"It was my fond dream..."
Chanukah celebrates nissim, miracles, of days gone by, as well as those that occur in our time. And Sharon Frant Brooks is no stranger to miracles. A specialist in the field of special-needs Jewish education, she sees miracles frequently and knows what it takes to make them happen. This past Chanukah season, Sharon celebrated a miracle that she helped bring about: the revival of her own family’s rich klezmer tradition.
As part of her effort to rededicate the Jewish Cemetery of Dubiecko, Poland, and to restore a Torah rescued from the town, Brooks began reaching out to klezmer musicians worldwide - and to the Discovery Project - with one goal: to bring the sounds of her great-grandfather’s band, the Frand Family Klezmorim, back to life, preferably in Dubiecko itself, the very place where the band was silenced by the Nazis some 72 years ago.
Her family story reads like a biblical narrative, beginning with her great grandfather, Abraham Leib Frand, who was known as Leibish the musician. Abraham’s father, a cantor, Solomon studied at the St. Petersburg Conservatory of Music. Unable to become a classical musician in Austria (unless he converted to Christianity), Leib started a Klezmer band whose players were his children on the violin, viola, drums, flute, and bass. The band was hired for weddings, festivals, circuses, and Purim shpils not only in Dubiecko but also in Dynow and other surrounding shtetlach. “There were nine siblings: Yeheskel (Chaskel) Frand (my grandfather), Yisroel (Israel), Gitel Sara (known as Sara - she was a singer with the klezmorim), Meir Wolf, Lazarus, Joshua, Hannah, Isaac and Naftali,” says Sharon Brooks.