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Watch Past Events

The Chicago YIVO Society is a local affiliate of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. The mission of Chicago YIVO is to entertain and educate the local community through subsidized lectures, music programs, and film screenings that reflect the rich heritage and diversity of Jewish culture, and to ensure the future of Yiddish through language education.  Please enjoy viewing a selection from the the many zoom events that Chicago YIVO Society has hosted over the years.

The Whole Megillah: The Story of The Yiddish Theatre

Lecture Presented June 26th 2022

The history of the Yiddish theatre, from its birth in Rumania in 1876 through its golden age in New York City in the early 20th century. "The Whole Megillah: The Story of The Yiddish Theatre" covers the moment of its birth in Rumania in 1876, to its rapid spread across the Western Hemisphere, to its meteoric flowering into a Golden Age, a flowering that would last but a few short decades – and carry the seeds of its own destruction. It’s an amazing story, full of twists and turns that are – like Yiddish theatre itself – sometimes outrageous, sometimes poignant, but always melodramatic.

Salvage Poetics The Photographs That
Helped Us Reconstruct
a Lost World

Lecture Presented May 15, 2022

How do American Jews “know what they think they know” about pre-Holocaust European Jewish life? The Old World in Image and Imagination. How do American Jews “know what they think they know” about pre-Holocaust European Jewish life? Chicago YIVO Society hosts this free zoom event by Dr. Sheila Jelen as she examines the role that images by photographers such as Roman Vishniac played in shaping the post-Holocaust reconstruction of that world among American Jews. What rhetorical and visual strategies were used to build bridges between different kinds of Jews in different historical moments?

Duo Controverso Klezmer Concert

Concert Presented April 24, 2022

Annette Bjorling (harp) and Kurt Bjorling (clarinet, basset-horn) present a musical journey through different eras and styles of klezmer. The program includes liturgical music, virtuosic mazltovs and celebratory dances, as well as instrumental versions of traditional folk songs. Based on research and musical exploration of traditional East European Yiddish wedding music, folk songs and liturgical pieces, Duo Controverso creates a unique soundscape, presenting a program to entertain, educate and elate listeners.

Corned Beef and Camaraderie:
The Jewish Deli in Chicago
with Ted Merwin

Lecture Presented April 3, 2022

 

Few locations of Jewish life rival the delicatessen for its place in the hearts—and stomachs—of Jews in Chicagoland. Especially for those who had gravitated away from shul attendance and strict religious observance, the deli became a kind of surrogate synagogue, a home away from home where Jews of all backgrounds could nurture and sustain community over no more than a beef sandwich and a glass of chocolate or raspberry phosphate. Ted Merwin will take us from the origin of Jewish delis in Eastern Europe and their growth in New York to Chicago, following Jewish delis from Maxwell Street to Lawndale to the Gold Coast to West Rogers Park to Skokie and the northwest suburbs. His talk recovers a lost chapter of Chicago Jewish history, and considers the role that Chicago delis continue to play in the life of the city and its environs today. 

“AF PURIM DARF MEN LAKHN!” – “ON PURIM YOU GOTTA LAUGH!”
with Stewart Figa

Concert Presented March 13, 2022

Cantor, actor, and Yiddish performer Stewart Figa returns to Chicago YIVO to present a program of humorous Yiddish songs, jokes and stories keeping with the fun of the holiday of Purim. Figa pays tribute to such Jewish comedy legends Menashe Skulnik, Aaron Lebedeff, Mickey Katz, Bruce Adler, Allen Sherman and others. Accompanied on piano by Ilya Levinson, much of his material will be in mamaloshen with translation provided.

Lakhn iz Gezunt! Keep Laughing! with Barry Schechter

Event held February 20, 2022

Rabbi Schechter will lift spirits with the most potent mixture known for spirit-lifting: Yiddish and Laughter. Sholem Aleichem said: LAKHN IZ GEZUNT, DOKTOIRIM HEYSSN LAKHN, “Laughter is healthy, Doctors prescribe laughter.” Never has this prescription been more necessary than now, after two years of Pandemification, Zoomification, and Meshuggefication. Rabbi Schechter will lift spirits with the most potent mixture known for spirit-lifting: Yiddish and Laughter.

Dress Rehearsal for Dreyfus: The Duchesse de Berry, Simon Deutz & France’s First
Antisemitic Affaire

Lecture Presented on January 23, 2022

In 1832, the duchesse de Berry led a civil war to recapture the French throne for her 11-year-old son. She was betrayed to the government by her trusted confidant, Simon Deutz, the son of France’s chief rabbi, setting off the first outpouring of antisemitism in modern France. Maurice Samuels shows how this colorful but now forgotten historical event set the stage for the century of antisemitism to come.

Lecture in Yiddish with
Dr. Yitskhok Niborski —

„ייִדיש אין פּאַריז : דער ווילן צו פֿאַרטיפֿן“

Lecture Presented December 19, 2021

Dr. Niborski will speak in Yiddish on the history and current work of the Paris Yiddish Center-Medem Library, giving as an example his study of the Yiddish poet Aaron Tsaytlin. Consecutive interpretation provided.

Lecture in Russian-
Boris Sandler:
Еврейские писатели, их произведения и издания на
идише — сегодня

Lecture Presented December 16, 2021

Lecture in Russian with Boris Sandler: Еврейские писатели, их произведения и издания на идише — сегодня Вы познакомитесь с авторами, родившимися после Второй мировой войны, с их произведениями, а также с печатными и электронными изданиями, которые теперь выходят на «Еврейской улице». Please note that this event is in Russian!

Crossing The Border with Michael Alpert and
Gica Loening

Concert Presented December 12, 2021

Michael Alpert and Gica Loening bring together original and traditional songs, tunes and poetry in Yiddish, English and Scots to explore the meeting points of their own East European Jewish, Scottish and American cultural legacies.

Sutzkever's Forgotten Chronicle of the
Vilna Ghetto

Lecture Presented November 21, 2021

Justin Cammy discusses the prose works of poet and partisan Avrom Sutzkever – from his memoirs of the Vilna Ghetto and testimony at the Nuremberg Trials to memoirs of his years in Soviet Russia: a lifetime of prose works collected in his newly published volume of translations.

Concert with Duo Controverso

Annette Bjorling (harp) and Kurt Bjorling (clarinet, basset-horn) invite you to a musical journey through different eras and styles of klezmer.The program includes liturgical music, virtuosic mazltovs and celebratory dances, as well as instrumental versions of traditional folk songs.Based on research and musical exploration of traditional East European Yiddish wedding music, folk songs and liturgical pieces, Duo Controverso creates a unique soundscape, presenting a program to entertain, educate and elate listeners.

Concert with Maxwell Street Klezmer Band

Natasha Bodansky (vocals), Alex Koffman (violin), Gail Mangurten (piano), and the band's newest member, Polish-born Bartek Warkoczyński, play klezmer dances and songs from the Yiddish stage and silver screen. Founded in 1983, Maxwell Street Klezmer Band has been creatively engaged offstage during the pandemic, and is eager to share new creations with YIVO's audiences.

Concert with Zisl Slepovitch

The concert program includes fragments from Slepovitch's vocal cycle SYLL-ABLE — Soviet Yiddish Literati (music set to the poetry of Meyshe Kulbak, Izi Kharik, and Zelik Akselrod), songs set to children’s poems by Boris Sandler, an ethnographic multimedia program “Traveling the Yiddishland,” based on D. Zisl Slepovitch’s and Nina Stepanskaya’s field recordings from Belarus, and Slepovitch’s original pieces and songs in Yiddish.

Concert with Josh "Socalled" Dolgin

Concert with Josh "Socalled" DolginJosh “Socalled” Dolgin is a pianist, singer, accordionist, producer, composer and rapper based in Montreal, Quebec. He has lectured and led master classes in music festivals around the world, from Moscow to Paris, from London to LA, and from Krakow to San Francisco, and has performed on every continent. With 8 solo albums to his name, he has performed all over the world for some 20 years, and his list of collaborators knows no generational, social, cultural or religious boundaries. Aside from countless festivals and venues around the world, Socalled has performed at Carnegie Hall (twice!), the Olympia in Paris, the National Arts Center in Ottawa Canada, the Apollo theatre in Harlem and the Arsht centre in Miami. 

Vanishing Worlds: Music in the Diaspora with Steve Gibons

Concert Presented on August 16, 2021

Violinist Steve Gibons invites Palestinian Oud player and composer Ronnie Malley and Flamenco and World Music guitarist Carlo Basile, to share music of Jews, Muslims and Roma peoples from Andalusia, North Africa, the Levantine and Europe.

Lecture in Russian with Boris Sandler:
О СЕБЕ И МОИХ ЕВРЕЙСКИХ БАШМАКАХ

Lecture Presented August 4th, 2021

Join Yiddish-language novelist, poet, and journalist Boris Sandler for a lecture in Russian on his literary works. *** Романы, повести, рассказы Бориса Сандлера выходят добрых четыре десятка лет. Область его литературных интересов - почти ушедший мир евреев Восточной Европы, которые чудом уцелели и оказались в совсем других, чужих и непонятных им странах. Герои Сандлера надеялись, что, уехав за тридевядь земель от родных пепелищ, они смогут начать новую жизнь. Но прошлое не хочет их отпускать. Прошлое помогает им выжить, ибо они твердо знают: назад дороги нет! Оно, как магнит, тянет их к таким же осколкам былого мира, которому принадлежат их родители, их деды и прадеды. Писательский мир писателя необычный, почти фантастический, в котором он, читатель, никогда не бывал, но из которого он много узнает о себе и сделает для себя важные открытия.

Yerushe: Bringing the Archive to Life with Eléonore Biezunski

Concert Presented on July 18, 2021

Come hear musician and sound archivist Eléonore Biezunski perform Yiddish songs and klezmer instrumentals from the archival collections of Ruth Rubin, Moshe Beregovski and Zusman Kiselgof. Learn about the materials’ context, explore the histories of their collectors, and listen together as these musical treasures bridge the past, present, and future of Yiddish and klezmer creativity.

The Long Road "Home": Returning to Germany after the Holocaust - Lecture with
Anette Isaacs

Lecture Presented June 27, 2021

Join German Historian Anette Isaacs, M.A. as she traces back the long road home that led to a rebirth of Jewish life in Germany. Much has been written in recent years about the renaissance of Jewish Life in Germany which was primarily caused by a major wave of immigration on part of Jews from the former Soviet Union. While our lecture will explore this phenomenon and its consequences as well, we first and foremost want to attempt to find an answer to the question why Jews were coming back to Germany after World War II. What motives could they have had to return to the "land of the perpetrators"? Join German Historian Anette Isaacs, M.A. as she traces back the long road home that led to a rebirth of Jewish life in her native country.