Holocaust survivors, families celebrate Jewish soul music at Yad Vashem

“Just as the Klezmer accompanied the Jews throughout the life cycle, so, too, did humor accompany this people in its joys and troubles – even in the darkest moments,"

August 22, 2019 21:21
2 minute read.
Holocaust survivors, families celebrate Jewish soul music at Yad Vashem

he 'Mashiv Haruach' concert took place at the Warsaw Ghetto Square at Yad Vashem. (photo credit: COURTESY YAD VASHEM)

For many survivors of the Holocaust, it was music that helped them get through the pain and horrors that they witnessed.

This week, Yad Vashem hosted the 13th annual "Mashiv Haruach" concert of Jewish soul music, which took place at the Holocaust museum’s Warsaw Ghetto Square.

Over a thousand Holocaust survivors, members of their families and Yad Vashem supporters filled the beautifully lit plaza, enjoying classic Klezmer pieces played by 19 veteran and novice Klezmer musicians from Israel and around the world.

A mixture of clarinets, accordions, saxophones, bandoneon and percussive ones were just some of the instruments that attendees were able to listen to during the concert. This light and sound extravaganza was the finale for students of the “Clarinet and Klezmer in Jerusalem” international masterclass, under the musical direction of Hanan Bar-Sela.

“Every year, the artist classes culminate at Yad Vashem, with a festive performance in honor of the Klezmer musicians who were murdered during the Holocaust – some of whom are immortalized in the Pages of Testimony stored in Yad Vashem’s Hall of Names,” explained Yad Vashem spokesman Simmy Allen.

Comedian and actress Odaya Koren, who led the evening’s proceedings, explained that “Klezmer and comedy usually go together.” She added that, “just as Klezmer accompanied the Jews throughout their life cycle, so too did humor accompany this people in its joys and troubles – even in the darkest moments.”

Koren also paid tribute to Holocaust survivor Leopold Kozlowski, also known as the “Last Klezmer of Galicia,” who passed away at the age of 100 in March.

Hailing from a family of Klezmer musicians, Kozlowski taught many students the tradition of his ancestors, helping them diverge from arranged music. “The notes in Jewish music are in one’s heart,” he told them. “It will tell you how to play.”

A multi-talented man, Kozlowski also played the theme music from the Oscar-winning Holocaust film, Schindler’s List. He once said that, “music saved my life. I was in the camps, the ghettos and the forest. Music gave me strength.”

Koren went on to explain that this performance at Yad Vashem “brings full closure to the Jewish musical tradition. After all, it was here in Jerusalem that it all began.

“As we were driven out of this country, we packed our piccolo with us,” she continued. “We took the hymns that the Levites sang here with us everywhere we settled: in Yemen and Lithuania, in Poland and Morocco. And when we came back, we brought with us all the wonderful traditions we created there.”

Koren concluded that, “there is therefore no more appropriate place than Yad Vashem to celebrate Jewish music, which will remain forever.”

The concert took place with support from the Education Ministry in cooperation with the Clarinet and Klezmer in the Galilee Association.

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