Evening Events at the Conference


In addition to all the activities during the day, there will be a full evening program as well. Most of it features world-class entertainment designed to give your brain a rest after all the intellectual stimulation of the morning and afternoon.

With the exception of the Gala Banquet, all of these programs are included in the conference registration.


Aaron Lansky

Sunday evening features the plenary Opening Session with keynote speaker Aaron Lansky. The program begins at 7:30 and includes a dessert reception.

Mr. Lansky, the founder and president of the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Massachusetts, is responsible for revitalizing the study of the Yiddish language and motivating hundreds of young scholars to study and teach Yiddish. He has saved over a million Yiddish books since he started collecting them as a 23-year old graduate student in 1980. His mission to rescue Yiddish literature earned him a MacArthur Foundation "genius grant" in 1985.


Hankus Netsky

On Monday evening, beginning at 7:30, Hankus Netsky will lecture about klezmer music and perform with his Klezmer Conservatory Band.

Hankus Netsky and his "Hebrew National Salvage Project" aim to rescue the authentic Jewish musical legacy that was almost erased in the fifties and sixties. It is a legacy rooted in centuries of Jewish life in Eastern Europe. Netsky uses several approaches to cultural recovery: personal contacts with elderly immigrants, dialogue with younger family members, and learning from artifacts that have been passed down through generations, such as a suitcase or a pocketbook.

Hankus Netsky, a multi-instrumentalist, composer and scholar of Yiddish Music, teaches jazz, composition, and contemporary improvisation at the New England Conservatory in Boston. He is the founder of the Klezmer Conservatory Band, which has produced 11 albums. Over the years, he has performed with Itzhak Perlman, Robin Williams, Joel Grey, and Theodore Bikel, among others. Netsky teaches and lectures extensively on Yiddish Music on both sides of the pond.


Tuesday night will feature two programs that range from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Mona Golabek and The Children of Willesden Lane

Mona Golabek and The Children of Willesden Lane

At 7:00, concert pianist Mona Golabek will perform the musical version of her book The Children of Willesden Lane. Set in Vienna in 1938 and London during the Blitzkrieg, it tells the true story of Golabek's mother, Lisa Jura. As a young Jewish pianist in Vienna, Lisa dreamt of a concert debut at the storied Musikverein concert hall. To save her from the Nazi regime, her parents sent her on the kindertransport to London. Everything about her life was upended, except for her love of music and her pursuit of that dream. Golabek performs some of the world's most beloved piano music in this poignant tribute to her remarkable mother.

A review from her Boston performances last fall, including a video excerpt of the performance, can be found here.

Jewish Genealogical Game Show Night

Genealogical Game Show Night

At 9:00, the Jewish Genealogical Game Show Night: To Jewpardy and Beyond, hosted by the always-hilarious and wildly-inappropriate Jordan Auslander will begin. Who said genealogists don't know how to have fun? Join us for an evening of entertainment in which all groyse machers, alter kockers, yentas, and mavens can demonstrate their genealogical knowledge, historical acumen, and research skills in game show formats including "Jewpardy," "Family Feud," and "Name That Jew." Watch Litvaks square off against Galitzianers, Ashkenazim butt heads with Sephardim, and experts vie with amateurs to demonstrate how much they know (or think they know) about Jewish genealogy. Even if you can't tell an Ahnentafel from a Gedcom, or aren't sure whether your first cousin twice removed is closer to you than your third cousin once removed, come to be enlightened, show off your chutzpah, and LOL with your landsleit. Commercial interludes, kitschy prizes, and hilarious musical numbers will be included for the same low, low price. (Produced by Pamela Weisberger & Ron Arons)


Wednesday night will also feature two events. The first will be entertaining as well as intellectually stimulating. The second will be pure entertainment.

The Litvak-Galitsianer Wars

The Litvak-Galitsianer Wars

At 7:00, Zvi Gitelman will present an invited talk on The Litvak-Galitsianer Wars: Jewish Cultural Geography. Gitelman is professor of political science and Tisch Professor of Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan. Author or editor of 15 books and over 100 articles, he has been director of the Frankel Center for Judaic Studies and the Center for Russian and East European Studies at Michigan. He has won teaching awards and has been a visiting professor in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Moscow, Oxford, Budapest, Princeton, and Harvard. Gitelman speaks Hebrew, Russian, and Yiddish and reads several other languages. His best known book is Century of Ambivalence: Jews of Russia and the Soviet Union, 1881 to the present.

Four of five American Jews trace their ancestry to Eastern Europe. But that region was quite diverse in religious practices: Yiddish pronunciation, foods, customs, dress, and political ideologies. Some of this diversity carried over to America and became a source of conflict, but over several generations it has faded. Gitelman will explore the differences among East European Jews and the stereotypes to which they gave rise, illustrating the richness and vitality of a civilization that continues to inform Jewish life in Europe, the Americas, and Israel.

An Evening of Original Jewish Music with Safam


Safam, the Boston based six-man band, has dominated Jewish music in America with their "Jewish-American Sound" since 1974. Often copied, never duplicated, they are originals—original music, original lyrics, original arrangements—their songs have become a fabric of our Jewish lives. Songs like "Leaving Mother Russia," "Amnesty," "Just Another Foreigner," "Moranno," and "Nachamu Ami" by group composers Joel Sussman and Robbie Solomon have become classics and have kept Safam at the forefront of the Jewish music scene.

Safam's music covers the wide breadth of American musical styles while maintaining a decidedly Jewish flavor. They use many settings—whether it be Rock & Roll, Pop, Folk, Latin, Chassidic, or Cantorial—to create their tapestry of music. Safam's eclectic approach to its music has enabled it to reach out to Jews of all ages and denominations. With ten original recordings, a double Chanukah & Passover CD, and their Greatest Hits Collections, Safam has already earned a vital place in mainstream Jewish-American culture. Samples can be heard here.


Zamir Chorale

From 6:30 to 7:00 there will be a pre-banquet reception to which all conference registrants are invited (no special ticket required). There will be a cash bar at the reception.

Beginning at 7:00, we will hold the traditional closing banquet (a separate fee applies). Many consider it to be a highlight of the conference week. While there is no set dress code, some people do get "dressed up."

As part of the event, we will be entertained by the world-renowned Zamir Chorale of Boston, Joshua Jacobson Artistic Director. Founded in 1969, the Zamir Chorale of Boston's mission is to serve as "a musical and educational organization dedicated to raising awareness of the breadth and beauty of Jewish culture through performances, recordings, symposia, publications, and musical commissions." Led by Founder and Artistic Director Joshua Jacobson, the Chorale comprises experienced volunteer singers who perform music spanning thousands of years, four continents, and a variety of styles, both classical and popular. Zamir's repertoire includes Jewish liturgical pieces, major classical works, music of the Holocaust, newly commissioned compositions, and Israeli, Yiddish, and Ladino folksongs. Zamir's music is enjoyed by people of all ages, religions, and races.

In addition to enjoying a devoted following in the Greater Boston area, Zamir has achieved a far-reaching reputation through its 21 recordings and frequent tours throughout the United States, as well as in Israel and Europe. The documentary film, Zamir: Jewish Voices Return to Poland, has been shown across the country on public television stations. In January 2006, Zamir was invited to perform at the United Nations General Assembly for the first International Day to Commemorate Victims of the Holocaust.


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