Klezkamp and the Rise of Yiddish Cultural Literacy

Mark Solbin

in American Klezmer

Published by University of California Press

Published in print August 2002 | ISBN: 9780520227170
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520935655 | DOI:
Klezkamp and the Rise of Yiddish Cultural Literacy

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In 1982, the author, who at the time was on the staff at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research as director of the archives of recorded sound, formally proposed a Yiddish music camp to the powers that were. Through a curriculum of classes in Yiddish language, crafts, and various aspects of this rich, diverse culture, the event aimed to place Yiddish music and dance within a larger context. The program was initially called the Yiddish Folk Arts Program, but was dubbed KlezKamp, the name by which most people have come to know it. The original idea of the Folk Arts Program was to offer musicians, singers, and Yiddishists a place to learn, exchange, and create Yiddish music in an enthusiastic and challenging intergenerational environment. It also came to serve as payoff for students who had just completed YIVO and Columbia University's rigorous six-week intensive summer Yiddish-language program. For one week, these students would be able to use the language they learned with some of the leading lights of Yiddish music and folk art culture. The camp was also a way of making the sound archives—YIVO itself—more activist. Instead of waiting for people to discover the institute and utilize its vast resources, KlezKamp would go out and find them, creating an easily accessible dynamic bridge to the institute.

Keywords: Yiddish language; music camp; KlezKamp; klezmer

Chapter.  5036 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: American Music

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