chapter  5
30 Pages

Encountering the Yiddish Other: Hasidic Music in Today’s Yiddish Canon

If the voyages to Europe discussed in Chapter 4 represented a long physical journey leading to an internal, personal encounter with the Yiddish past, here I turn to a contrasting journey undertaken by a number of Yiddish vocalists, this time leading to a no less intense encounter with an alternative Yiddish present.1 Only half an hour or so from central Manhattan, the strictly Orthodox Hasidic neighbourhoods of Brooklyn seem both near and infinitely far away from the buzzing Yiddish music scene described here. It is perhaps ironic that today the two American Jewish groups most committed to the preservation of the Yiddish language stand at opposite poles of the modern Jewish spectrum: leftist, secularist, Yiddishism versus strict ultra-Orthodoxy. The physical distance between the Yiddish cultural scene discussed in this volume and the Hasidic neighbourhoods of Boro Park or Williamsburg may be very small, but the cultural distance is nonetheless great.2