Yosl and Martin Broder

Honoring Their Parents’ Love of Music

Yosl Broder came home from his first day of kindergarten with a note pinned to his shirt asking his parents to come talk to his teacher. So the next day his mother nervously accompanied him back to school to find out what was wrong. “Mrs. Broder,” the teacher told her, “your son doesn’t speak English!”

The Broders did in fact speak English. But in the family home—first in Brooklyn, then Detroit—the family spoke Yiddish, read Yiddish books, listened to Yiddish music. “My mother and father were staunch Yiddishists,” says Martin Broder, Yosl’s older brother. As adults, the brothers are dedicated to preserving Yiddishkeit and honoring their late parents’ memory in numerous ways, including through support of the Yiddish Book Center.

Given their parents’ love of music, he asks, what could be a better way to honor them?

Now the Broders have established the Bernard and Reva Broder Memorial Fund for Yiddish Music Projects and Programs, an endowed fund that each year will support a lecture, workshop, or other program at Yidstock, the Center’s annual festival of new Yiddish music. Given their parents’ love of music—their mother sang in the Workmen’s Circle chorus and their father played saxophone in a wedding and bar mitzvah band with his four brothers—Yosl asks, “what could be better?”

While the Broder Fund will support an event at Yidstock, the brothers opted against placing too many conditions on its use, in order to allow festival organizers flexibility in their planning, Martin notes. What was most important to him and his brother, he says, was that the gift reflect a personal passion of their parents’. “I would tell anybody who’s thinking about giving a gift to look back in their own lives to what was important to them,” he says.

What would their parents think of seeing their name on an endowed fund that will help sustain the culture they loved? “We think they would be extraordinarily pleased—and maybe embarrassed a little,” Martin says.

To learn how you can establish an endowed fund to support the Yiddish Book Center, please email or call Zvi Jankelowitz at 413-256-4900, ext. 117.

From Kvel, the newsletter of the Yiddish Book Center (Fall 2014)

The following is an excerpt from Martin Broder’s interview for the Wexler Oral History Project.
View the full-length interview.

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