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Keywords: Canada; Chanukah; community; father; Georgia Strait; Hanukkah; hippies; Hornby Island; Jewish tradition; khanike; KlezKanada; klezmer music; Leonard Cohen; mother; multilingualism; musicians; National Yiddish Book Center; parents; religious observance; Shabbat; Shabbos; shabes; The Beatles; Yiddish language; Yiddish learning; Yiddish speaker; YIVO Institute for Jewish Research
Keywords: "Der dibuk"; "The Dybbuk"; calligraphy; contemporary Jewish identity; contemporary Yiddish theater; contemporary Yiddish theatre; cultural memory; devised theater; devised theatre; drama; fragmentation of memory; fragmented memory; Germany; KlezKanada; MA dissertation; masters dissertation; musicians; National Yiddish Book Center; performance; University of Alberta; visual art; Yiddish culture; Yiddish language; Yiddish Summer Weimar
Keywords: artist; artwork; Hebrew alphabet; inspiration; Jewish alphabet; Jewish melodies; Jewish music; niggunim; nigum (melody); nigunim; radicalism; socialism; visual arts; wordless melodies; Yiddish alphabet; Yiddish culture; Yiddish ideals; Yiddish language; Yiddish music; Yiddish poetry; Yiddish politics
AVIA MOORE ORAL HISTORY
CHRISTA WHITNEY:This is Christa Whitney, and today is December 14th, 2011. I'mhere in Montreal at the Jewish Public Library with Avia Moore, and we're going to record an interview as part of the Yiddish Book Center's Wexler Oral History Project. Avia, do I have your permission to record the interview?
CW:Thanks. Just as a place to start, can you tell me what you know about yourfamily background?
AM:Okay. The Jewish side of my family is my father's side of my family. And myfather was born and raised in Connecticut. And his mother was also born and raised in -- I believe, Massachusetts, North Adams, Massachusetts. And it was 1:00her mother who came over from Europe in, I believe, around 1900. And she was thirteen at the time, and she was, as I'm told, fleeing from pogroms. That side of the family -- so that's my paternal grandmother's family -- came from around Minsk. So, shtetls [small Eastern European town with a Jewish community] around -- in what was then -- or what is now Belarus and what was then the province of Vilna. We don't know very much about them. A couple of them had come over, and my great-grandmother, Freydl, she came and joined a brother who was already in the States. Other than that, we have a couple of family photos and a little bit of genealogy that relatives have done, but not very much. Everyone who stayed 2:00there disappeared. And then, my paternal grandfather also was in the States from about the same time. And they came from more around the area of Prussia, from Königsberg area. So, a little bit lower down. But they have also been in the States since the turn of the last century. And they were all big families, you know, six, seven kids. And fairly secular, good New England Jews. And my grandma speaks with a kind of typical New England Jewish accent. And she grew up hearing Yiddish but not speaking it. So, she tends to surprise me now by once in a while coming up with a Yiddish word, but she says that her parents spoke it as a way 3:00that the children wouldn't understand and that -- she pretty much all the time says that she hates Yiddish. This is my grandmother. And yet, when I went and began studying Yiddish, she exhibited the kind of pride that made me think that there was a more complicated relationship than just hating it, you know? And then, after a certain number of years of me studying Yiddish, she was like, "Well, that's enough now. You don't need to do that anymore." You know, "You've done enough of that." Yeah. So, that's my Jewish side. The other side of my family is Anglican, good Anglican British folk, who came over around the same time but came to Canada.
CW:And can you describe the home you grew up in? What was Jewish about it?
AM:There was very little that was Jewish about my home. Both my parents werehippies, self-declared hippies, from the hippie era. I grew up on the west coast 4:00of Canada in small towns and in small hippie towns. And my parents split very early, so I kind of had a dual upbringing. And I spent holidays with my father. And at my father's house we had, like, Hanukkah and occasional Shabbos. And my father and stepmother had a house for a while on Hornby Island, which is one of the small islands in the strait, Georgia Strait, between Vancouver Island and the coast. And what's interesting about that island is it has a lot of summer folk, and a lot of summer folk from a particular synagogue in Vancouver called Or Shalom, which is the Reconstructionist-Renewal synagogue in Vancouver. So, 5:00Shabbos in the summer on Hornby Island consisted of potluck dinners on the beach, singing Leonard Cohen and Beatles songs. That's what I knew. And there would be prayers over the bread. It certainly wasn't anything near kosher. And prayers over the bread, prayers over the wine, and then the guitars would come out. (laughs) And I think I didn't even go to my first seder until I was at least thirteen or fourteen. And as for shul, maybe once a year. But then only if my father happened to be going or there was a concert -- my father's a musician, so if there was a concert in the shul or a bar mitzvah or -- I didn't really consider myself Jewish until I was -- well, I'm not even sure if I do now. But I didn't think about whether I was Jewish until I was past twenty. If you had 6:00asked me, I would have said I was half-Jewish as a kid. But it wasn't really a cultural consideration for me.
CW:And then, when did you start to ask about that or think about that?
AM:Well, when I was twenty-one -- this was 2003 -- my father dragged me toKlezKanada. And my father had been, among other types of music, a klezmer musician. And so, I actually really grew up with the klezmer music in the house and with Yiddish around a little bit, but mostly the music. So, I was very familiar with the music itself. And in fact, pretty sick of it. You know, when you have to go to sleep with it at night, and it's all -- and so when he said he wanted to take me to KlezKanada, I was really resistant. I didn't know anything about it. He had been doing some work with them at the time, so he knew Hy and 7:00Sandy Goldman. And I thought, Oh, dad, I don't speak any Yiddish; I don't know any Yiddish songs; I don't play an instrument; it's all gonna be old people. What will I do there? He finally convinced me by saying, "Well, at least we'll spend a week together." I don't get to see him very often since I'm an adult. And so, I went. And I think I saw him for maybe a total of half an hour the whole week. I had so much fun. We drove up with Hy and Sandy, and on the way up there, Sandy said, "Oh, Avia, since you're over twenty, I've put you in with the scholarship girls, not in with your father." And, I mean, that was that. I made friends within half an hour, and I've been back every year since. And that started me getting really interested about the culture. What's interesting is that even from the very beginning, it was a cultural curiosity. It never really became a religious curiosity. And in many ways, it didn't really affect the 8:00level of Jewish that I felt, the level of whether I felt personally Jewish. So, from very early on in my kind of rediscovery of Yiddish culture, it was about cultural transmission and these kind of bits and pieces of memory that felt really right. You know, it felt right to learn Yiddish. I got really excited about the music. I started listening to it all the time. My way in was as a singer because I don't play an instrument. So, my first year as KlezKanada as a scholarship student, I was singing and dancing. And that coincided with the year that I went -- started my first degree in theater. So, going to university, suddenly I was looking at how I might access all these things through my art. And yeah, that's how I got back into Yiddish. And then, what, that was 2003, so 2005 -- no, 2006, I did the National Yiddish Book Center internship; 2007, I did 9:00the YIVO program, summer program. And those are the only two intensive Yiddish programs I did, but I follow that up a lot during the year with my own study. At this point, I'm nowhere near fluent, but I still think my Yiddish might be better than my French. (laughs) And I do live in Montreal. Yeah.
CW:When you started sort of learning Yiddish and going to KlezKanada, what werethe things that immediately felt right or felt -- that you connected to?
AM:Probably more than anything, it was a sense of community. And it felt warmand welcoming and inclusive, and I found mentors there in the teachers very 10:00fast. People like Michael Alpert and Jeff Warschauer and Adrienne Cooper and Joanne Borts were all really good to me in that first year and very enthusiastic about what I had to offer. And right away, I remember thinking that year that -- listening to the music and feeling something shift inside me, and this feeling of -- that people often use to describe klezmer, of the laughing and crying at the same time. And that's often used to describe the violin or the clarinet. But what's interesting is that in theatrical-speak, we often search for that moment. We're looking for that moment of laughter and tears at the same time, and that's thought of as this great artistic catalyst, you know? That's the catharsis 11:00moment. And to find that in music struck me as important. I don't necessarily find it in the music anymore. It's possibly oversaturation. (laughs) But it felt like a moment where I needed to follow it. And I made a lot of friends in those first two years there who I am still in contact with. I mean, what, this summer would have been my ninth year, I guess? So, at this point, a huge proportion of my community comes through my contact, and later, my work, with KlezKanada. But yeah, the community, the language itself, which fascinates me -- above and beyond any feeling of belonging to the language, I find it just a very 12:00interesting language, and the -- I think a lot of us are in search of culture. Maybe we'll get to this a little bit more when I talk about my academic work. But here was my first possibility to find the fragments of my culture. And later on, I moved to England and looked in those fragments, too, but I think it's -- we all need to grasp onto something, especially these days, and that was my first option to do so. And I'd never known half of this stuff! I felt so ignorant, you know? I don't know any Hebrew prayers. I was always the kid who didn't go to Jewish camp. And here at KlezKanada, it didn't seem to matter that 13:00I didn't know anything, 'cause people were willing to teach or explain or -- or it didn't even matter whether I wanted to be Jewish or not, because it's so open and inclusive from -- in all demographics and from non-Jewish to ultra-Orthodox. And I'd never seen that anywhere before, and I thought that was really special. At the same time, they don't like singing Beatles songs on Shabbos, so, you know, you gotta give and take a little bit. (laughs)
CW:I want to talk more about KlezKanada and all these other things, but can youjust talk for a minute about the Book Center's summer program? What was your experience there?
AM:Sure. I loved the program. I was one of the last years where -- I think youryear was the last year where the books were still in the old warehouse. And that 14:00was certainly the most effective part of the program for me, this feeling of discovery and -- dirty discovery. Not cleaned-up discovery. This feeling of, like, there were dead mice under the pallets and boxes that were overflowing with receipts and junk and tar, and you got filthy in there, and it was hot and gross and -- you know? And that really felt like discovery. I was really inspired by the warehouse. Ever since, I've wanted to create a piece of theater based on one of the boxes of papers. It's harder now, 'cause those don't necessarily exist in the same way. And the program was great. I was in the beginner class. We had Robert Peckerar, who was a fantastic teacher and a 15:00fantastic group leader, and we all adored him. And Aaron Rubinstein, who we also all adored. So, it was a very tight group. We weren't in dorms either; we were all living in local housing. So, we became tight really quickly, 'cause even before we got there, we were communicating about where we were gonna live and how to rent houses together and -- I was in a house with four students, three other students, and we threw big dinner parties, and I saw fireflies for the first time. I have a lot of memories from that that go beyond the Yiddish. It was a really powerful two months. There were things that came out of it that I am very grateful for, and a lot of questions raised that still give me pause for 16:00thought and make me wonder how the program could be structured in ways that are -- that continue to be more hands-on and less academic. Because I think that what I've seen since is ever more academic and less immersive. And for us, this whole process of getting -- or -- I won't speak for them, but for me, the whole process of kind of jumping in and getting dirty was a really important part. My work with Yiddish is only partially academic. And I think a much greater part of it is about heart and smell and touch. So, I'm grateful I had that option before it disappeared. 17:00
CW:What fascinates you about Yiddish language?
AM:Well, firstly, it fascinates me that it's all around us and we kind of don'tknow it exists. There's all these words that you hear because they've been incorporated into the English language, and even on the west coast of Canada, which is not a particularly Jewish part of the world, all these -- you even hear "nakhes [joy]" there, and all -- you hear words that are English and yet not. And so, then suddenly you're learning Yiddish, and it's like, Oh, that's what that is. That's what this means, and that's where that comes from. I had studied German previously, and I had actually studied German in Switzerland. So, I'd studied High German in a country where they didn't speak High German, and -- another one of these languages that is not quite fully recognized as a language 18:00but should be. And Yiddish struck me in that way as well, that it's this overwhelmingly personal and political language. And it's more than linguistics. And I guess every language is, to some extent. But these languages that are marginalized are particularly interesting that way. And sometimes that's languages that change. But I think Yiddish was always that kind of language. But I would include Swiss German, even though Swiss German is not a language in danger of extinction. But other languages like Welsh or Celtic or -- I mean, Gaelic -- that Welsh and Gaelic were not once in danger. But now they have become this -- they have gained this personal and political energy about them. 19:00And for me, Yiddish included that. It's a bit of a secret language, too. I like having a secret language. And even though right now my Yiddish is not really good enough to use it, but still, it's a bit of a code. I read an article yesterday in the "New York Times" about Hollywood hiring people to create languages for film, and how that all started with Klingon. And not to compare Yiddish to Klingon, but that people become passionate about these things, you know? And they were describing one of the creators of these languages getting up at his own wedding and giving a speech in this language he had written. And the suggestion that language acquisition is more of a choice than a necessity, that 20:00sometimes it's -- we are born into it, sometimes we move somewhere and it is necessary; and other times we make a choice to learn a language, even if we don't expect to use it fluently. I mean, how many places, really, these days am I going to speak fluent Yiddish? Not a lot. And I would have to be quite particular about where I spent my time if I wanted to do that. And yet, the choice to learn a language is a choice to include culture in my life, a choice to include memory, and a choice to be something other than generic and mainstream. And I think in many ways that's one of the modern purposes of culture, or -- not purposes -- one of the modern services of culture. 21:00
CW:So, can you explain a little bit about divisive theater?
CW:Devised theater? (laughs) Divisive would be --
AM:Divisive sounds good, too.
CW:-- a different thing, (laughs) but -- devised theater, how and sort of whatyou studied formally interacted with your discovery and use of Yiddish?
AM:Okay. My first degree in theater is just a general drama, North American BAin drama. But I did the honors program at University of Alberta, so we were required to write a small thesis. And that was the first time that I wrote about Yiddish in performance culture. And then, I went on to do my master's degree in England. And my master's degree is in devised theater. And devised theater is -- 22:00it's a really large umbrella term, actually, that is very inclusive. But it's essentially alternative methods of creating theater, non-hierarchical theater. So, you don't start with a play and a playwright; you start with an en-- it doesn't have to be an ensemble. You can start with an individual. But essentially, you start with the idea, and through any number of methods you develop the product. It's very process-based, and the process is generally much, much, much longer than traditional script-based theater. The word "devised" is starting to become popular in North America finally, but here, the closest thing until recently was "collective creation," which is very similar but implies an ensemble. And devised theater can also be solo work. So, if I was to go in with 23:00an ensemble, which is my preferred method, I consider myself a director and facilitator. So, I am a member of the ensemble, but if need be, I'm the one who steps out. And I'm the one who facilitates the process of creation. So, you go into a room with an ensemble; you look at what everybody's strengths are and how you can use those strengths to create performance. In terms of Yiddish and adding Yiddish to it, my MA work looked at how we could take traditional prompts, like a piece of music or an image that related to Yiddish culture, a letter, a piece of text, and use those as what we built upon. So, take those and turn them into theater. In my MA final project, we had a group of nine of us 24:00from five different countries. We met at Yiddish Summer Weimar in Germany. Alan Bern hosted my MA project. And all but one of us had a direct involvement in Yiddish culture, and we had one girl who had no clue. Which was great too, 'cause then you get a foil to play off of. We just had a week to work that first time. But it was pretty amazing, and the stuff that came out of it was really exciting. My degree was both an academic and a studio program, so parallel with that, I did an MA dissertation --
[BREAK IN RECORDING]
CW:You were talking about your --25:00
AM:Okay. So, parallel with my practical project, I wrote a MA dissertation. Andit's on the fragmentation of cultural memory and -- or the fragmentation of memory and on cultural transformation. And I focused that through the lens of Yiddish, and through this work, proposed the possibility of a new Yiddish theater, or the need for a new Yiddish theater. Which it has been suggested to me after that is a little bit like a mini manifesto. And I think in many ways, it is. And that work is about --- I mean, to be very brief -- about changes in the way memory is processed and stored, and not just as we were just talking 26:00about in archives, but mentally as well. And changes in the way that we and memory theorists visualize the way memory is structured. So, basically from linear to nonlinear, from linear to very fragmented. And contemporary computer archives are -- not even the archive, but the internet as kind of ultimate fragmentation. And there's lots of people writing about this, from memory theorists like Maurice Halbwachs to Baudrillard writing nihilistic essays on how this means the end of the world. So, I looked at these different changing models of memory and how they applied to contemporary culture makers. Because there are not a lot of examples of contemporary Yiddish theater, I also looked at 27:00musicians and performance studies models rather than performance models. So, the way people perform their identities. And I used KlezKanada as an example and other situations I've been in. Something like the backwards march at KlezKanada, which is very much a performance of identity and a created tradition, based on a fragment of tradition but then recreated and changed in the process. So, my dissertation deals with all of these things, and I tried to apply all of that theory into my MA project, without bogging down any of my performers with the theory. It's pretty exciting stuff. I kind of forget about it once in a while, and then I get worked up about it, and -- I would really love to take it to a PhD level eventually. As with any big piece of writing, I look back -- I finished it two years ago, and I see all the flaws and all the things that need 28:00to be rewritten and expanded upon. But I think it's important work, and I think that especially these ideas about how contemporary Jewish identity is changing and how we access culture is changing. And I feel that it's also important work because in North America, if you want to consider yourself Jewish or access Jewish culture, there's a pressure to access mainstream Jewish culture and Israeli Jewish culture. And while there's a lot of really exciting things going on in that as well, Yiddish is still considered -- old-fashioned, uninteresting, 29:00naïve, innocent, boring. It's just not cool. I've actually been told that in those words. I was creating a design, a poster design. I was once told by somebody who shall remain nameless, but somebody fairly high up in a Jewish world and Jewish organizational life, who said to me, "You just can't use the words 'klezmer' and 'Yiddish' in your promotional materials because they're just not cool, and nobody's interested." And I said, "Excuse me? This is the Yiddish cultural festival." You know, like, What are you -- but this is a pervasive opinion. And it makes it even kind of more interesting when people do access the Yiddish culture. Yeah. So, I looked at people like Josh Dolgin, Socalled, who 30:00literally samples Yiddish in his work; people like Daniel Kahn, who is writing new translations; visual artists who are sampling Yiddish work in their own work, and I thought, Okay, so how does that apply to my own culture? And this is where -- can I show you a couple of my images?
AM:Okay. So, when I was at the National Yiddish Book Center on my internship,there was an exhibition called "Paper Bridges," before the festival was called Paper Bridges, and it was a book that was of new translations of -- female 31:00poetry? No, new translations of Kadia Molodowsky and illustrated by artist Sarah Horowitz. And this is one of the images from that. And at the time it was on a postcard with the exhibition information on the back, just lying around the Book Center. I saw it, and I loved it right away, and I kind of carried it around with me -- that was 2006 -- for three years. I still carry it around with me. And then, in England, I was just really attached and kind of obsessed with the image. And I wrote to the artist, and I asked Sarah if she would give me permission to play with it. And I didn't really know what I was gonna do, (laughs) so I just asked her, "Is it okay if I try and bring it to life?" And what I did was create the coat. So, this is a photograph of me in the coat that 32:00I created, which is very similar, to the point where -- like, I tried to be as authentic as possible, and to the point where most of the letters are in the similar place on the jacket. And what's interesting about the image is that it ended up being a 2-D image again. I have yet to create a full performance piece with it. But the process of bringing it to life and putting it back into an image was a really powerful one, and became a metaphor for a lot of the process I was working with. Because it's called "The Letter Angel," and I kind of started to visualize this letter angel as somebody who's going around and collecting bits and pieces of Yiddish and carrying them around with her. So, I 33:00started with this to see -- this inspired me to see, So, how can we wear Yiddish culture? You know, other than tattoos, wearing our culture on our sleeve. So, I created this butterfly image, which is -- the calligraphy is my own handwriting, of Yiddish handwriting, and the song is "A malekh veynt [An angel weeps]," and -- which is an angel weeping. And then, from there, sought -- performed with it trying to see what it was like on my back. And this is a superimposed image, a Photoshopped image. But I also am more performance-oriented, played around with light and projection and how it worked to use that. And in my MA project, we did play a lot with projection and what it was like to superimpose images of this. 34:00So, this is the last one, and this is the image in projection, the letter angel image. So, what does it mean to superimpose these things on ourselves? Yeah. So, that's kind of my MA work. That's already two years ago. And a lot has happened and changed since then. This spring I did a production of "The Dybbuk." And that would be spring 2011. And of course, that is one of the most classic Yiddish plays. And we played with some of the same imagery. In a sort of Brechtian manner, all of our costumes had the names of the characters written down the side in Yiddish. And phrases about the characters are said by the characters are 35:00said by other characters about the characters, kind of tumbling and falling down the costumes. Very visible, but only there for people who could read Hebrew or Yiddish, which was that idea of the secret language and the code. We did the play about, I'd say, like four-fifths in English, using the oldest English translation, and then we -- I -- not translated, but inserted back sections of the original. So, parts of it were totally in Yiddish. And we played a lot with this kind of tension between old and new, between spiritual world and real world. And it was a really interesting and successful project. We also had a -- all-female cast. So, that also brought a whole bunch of extra layers to this. 36:00How does it feel for a woman to inhabit a completely masculine -- completely masculine -- and patriarchal world? And then, kind of at a meta level -- how many? -- two of my five actors were Jewish, and the girl who spoke the most Yiddish in the play was Leah, the main character. And she was not Jewish and had never heard Yiddish before. And she learnt it so well that -- Anna Gonshor was one of her -- we went over, and she graciously tutored her for one day. But Katie learnt it so well that after the first performance Anna came up to me, and she said, "You wouldn't -- she speaks it better than most of the people in the Yiddish theater." And I think that -- how does one learn a culture, you know? Does one learn a culture through learning a language? That brings a whole other 37:00interesting element to it. One I'm still processing. I really want to remount the show. I have a whole bunch of ideas for how to continue its process. I felt like we got to the point that then we were ready to rehearse. I know it's always that way, but -- so that's been some of my work in the Jewish realm. I do non-Jewish work as well. Yeah. That sort of brings us up to date.
CW:Having participated in KlezKanada and also some of the Yiddish languageimmersion programs and Weimar, I'm wondering sort of what you see the role of these almost like, culture camps and intensives in the transmission of Yiddish culture. 38:00
AM:I think they're vital, and it's really important that they remain open andaccessible. And yet, at the same time, I think it's really important that they remain hands-on and immersive. I think the trend towards academia only is a bit dangerous. It relegates it to a bit of a different dimension. And unless the academic work can be brought back into the lifestyle -- an example being for me the work of Jeffrey Shandler on postvernacularity has been really important to my own work. And it's a major aspect of my academic work and also of my artistic 39:00practice. And yet, it's a highly controversial -- maybe not highly. I don't know if anything's highly. But it's a controversial idea because people -- not everybody wants to live a -- not everybody wants to accept a changing relationship to the language, you know? And yet, for me, I'm not interested in being a hundred percent fluent. I'm not interested in raising children in Yiddish. I'm interested in making it an integrated part of who I am. But I'm really sick of the conversation about whether Yiddish is living or dying. And for me, postvernacularity changes the discussion. It's no longer about whether Yiddish is living or dying; it's about the fact that the way we relate to the language and the culture is changing. And if that's true, then what we need to 40:00focus on is how we relate to the language and culture and developing new ways. For instance, in the Yiddish theater world, there's some great work being done by companies still, but it's traditional; it's all completely Yiddish. There's not a lot of new work. There's some, and there's some people doing good new work. But there's not a lot of focus on how our relationship with it is different. And I think that that's one of the things that these immersive programs should be focusing more on, and which is quite effective at places like KlezKanada, where there's so much going on that it's impossible to do one thing. 41:00And it's not that everybody who comes has to be taught this. But there needs to be the potential to learn. I don't think dogma has a place anymore in this culture. And unfortunately, it's very much still around. There's plenty of family feuds in the Yiddish cultural world. And I find that really sad, because if there's any question of Yiddish living, (laughs) it needs to be as multifaceted and colorful as possible. One of the really amazing things about KlezKanada is the joy it is. You know? I call it the inter-program because it's interdisciplinary, intergenerational, interdenominational, international. 42:00There's one more that I'm forgetting. But that's pretty amazing, and you don't really find that anywhere except in folk communities. And to embrace this as a folk community is really a way to accept what it is and how it's changing.
CW:Earlier, you mentioned some parallel in sort of the language with Welsh andother marginalized languages. Do you see sort of a -- is there a parallel folk world that you sort of foil the Yiddish world against?
AM:I mean, the Yiddish music camps -- though KlezKanada is not particularly --is not only a music camp. But they're modeled on Balkan camps that people like 43:00Michael Alpert and Henry Sapoznik and all the other -- Joel Rubin -- and all of these kind of founders of the klezmer revival -- a word I don't like -- they were all going to these Balkan camps and Irish fiddle camps. So yes, you can see the same thing in Celtic culture; you can see the same thing in Balkan culture. It's interesting because folk culture is not particularly popular. And I don't mean popular in that nobody likes it. There's plenty of enthusiasm for folk culture. But it's not a particularly cool thing. Which is -- it's too bad, because those of us who are involved know it's super cool, and like, cooler than anything else, right? I grew up in the folk music scene in BC, 'cause my dad's a 44:00musician. And there was nothing better. It was the best thing in the world. Those were all kind of multicultural festivals. But yet, somehow there's a resistance to folk culture as something that's hip and cool. And to make another pop cultural Klingon reference, I've been thinking recently about Eurovision because Eurovision is -- I'd say the songs are prim-- many of them, if not most of them, are in English, right? And because they're all in English, that immediately removes the easiest cultural reference, which would be the language. So, you have all these different countries competing together, and they immediately level the playing field by having all the songs in English. Well, 45:00what's the point of having a Macedonian song in English and a Norwegian song in English and a Moldovan song in English? But you look at the songs, and you look at how they're reintroducing the cultural elements. And the Moldovan song and the Norwegian song from last year -- 2010, I guess -- I don't watch Eurovision. But I do watch it sometimes on YouTube. I shouldn't even be embarrassed if I do watch Eurovision. It's just they're really terrible. (laughs) But the -- okay. So, the Moldovan song, mostly in English. It's about a national Moldovan dance. It's about the hora, the Moldovan hora. And she wears this, like, miniskirted version of a folk costume onstage. And this isn't even her music video; this is just the performance video. And she has at least three dancers behind her doing 46:00the dance that she's singing about, or doing a slightly contemporary version of it. And then, the huge screens above the stage, which are usually lit in colors, are lit in very, very bright, flashing folk patterns. So, those are the elements of culture they choose to put in the Moldovan one. The Norwegian one is a stupid song about a fairytale. It's completely ridiculous. But his dancers are doing a traditional Norwegian dance, where you kick the hat off of other people. It's very cool. And again, a slightly contemporized version of the dance. And I could go on, but I haven't watched the others. (laughs) But for some reason, in that 47:00situation, it's really cool to have the folk culture in the popular spotlight. And I'm guessing that in those cases it's mostly this nationalistic tendency. It's a way to be -- to feel national pride. And it's hard to do that with Yiddish. It's hard to feel a national pride with Yiddish. Much easier with Hebrew. But Yiddish has always been a language without a particular nation. I also teach Yiddish folk dance, right? And as a dance teacher and a dancer, it's always driven me crazy that I have no folk costume. Every other folk dance culture gets to dress up. And us? There isn't one. There isn't one. We get to dress in the clothes of other cultures or be really kind of cliché and put on 48:00"Fiddler on the Roof," like, your little caps and suspenders and -- and I find that kind of disappointing. (laughs) Rather unsolvable, but disappointing. I'm getting sidetracked. What did you ask me? (laughter)
CW:Well, I want to ask another question --
CW:-- if that's okay.
CW:I'm wondering about sort of the -- I don't know if it's necessarily aconflict, but the presence of the idea of accessibility and authenticity. In part of what you're saying, it's about that we want people -- it to be open and accessible, but then there's also a lot of conversation within these programs about authenticity, and how do those sort of interact for you? 49:00
AM:Yeah, authenticity's a pretty difficult thing. I'm not sure it's related toaccessibility, though. I tend to think that everything should be very accessible. But because it's accessible doesn't necessarily mean that one should appropriate it. Cultural appropriation is a dirty word. In the '70s and beyond, there was a lot of theater companies that were going and looking for new ways of performing, and in many ways, what they called the universal language. And they were going and learning Indian folk dance methods or performing with Japanese 50:00techniques or -- and they're pretty incredible companies, doing amazing, deep work. And they were all accused of cultural appropriation. And we're talking some of the best directors in the world of the last century. And it started this kind of bonfire of accusations. And so, it's a really sensitive area. And I don't think there's an easy answer to it. My feeling about cultural appropriation and authenticity is that where true curiosity exists, there will be true authenticity. But where smugness and assumption come into play, that's 51:00when things will become shallow, cliché, and stereotyped. And I see both all the time. I haven't been as involved in the culture since I left KlezKanada, but especially while I was working for KlezKanada. And I was very involved in the scholarship program. I ran it for four years. That was my favorite part of the program. I loved bringing the scholarship students in. And what's been most interesting for me is seeing them go out again, right, and seeing what they do with it. And we've attracted some pretty incredible people to KlezKanada. But I do see a lot of this kind of assumption that because you've been to one week of 52:00klezmer camp, you know how to play the style. And maybe you do. Maybe you're technically able. But that at that point you can stop being curious. You know? Because that's when you see people who are technically able to play the style wearing fake fringes and fake tsitses [tassels on the prayer shawl or undergarment worn by Orthodox Jews] and that strikes me as odd. And I try and be really open-minded about it. I had a conversation with Michael Winograd at one point, that -- I've done a bunch of clowning. And my clown teacher was encouraging me to explore my Jewish identity through clown. And I asked Michael -- just in passing, we were discussing this -- what he thought about my clown wearing tsitses, wearing fringes. And he was like, "What? No, you can't do 53:00that." And I said, "Well, if I wanted to dress as a priest that would be all right, right?" And he said, "Well, yeah. Of course." I said, "So what's the difference?" And he said, "Well, that's making fun of somebody else's culture, right?" So, it's that nobody wants there to be a false impression. And it's very easy with folk motifs and folk ideas to skip straight to the stereotype and straight to the cliché. And that's what we're dealing with in the authenticity thing. As I said, there is no answer. I don't think it has to do with accessibility, though. I just think it has to do with curiosity and intention. And the people who are out there doing really interesting, deep work, they're 54:00gonna be authentic no matter what they're doing. I mean, nobody -- well, maybe they do -- "nobody." I would never accuse Josh Dolgin of being inauthentic, you know? 'Cause he's completely authentic to what he does. And I know very few people who are as curious as he is and who go back, and he's listened to all the old recordings, and he's gone out and played and met and interviewed and talked to and hung out with and drunk with all these old musicians, you know? And yet, he's doing very modern -- he's ripping the music to shreds, in many ways, and putting it back together. It's amazing. And I think that's really important. But yeah, where we -- (sighs) where we stop taking things apart. But the problem is 55:00-- and this was the whole academic thing -- but if we're receiving things as fragments, how are we expected to return them as wholes? How many of us when we are faced with a daily factual question these days, we go to Wikipedia. It's like a first source now. And that's a -- incredibly recent thing. And it caught on really quickly. But if we're getting -- if I'm checking facts online fifty times a day, I'm not going to get a unified approach to anything. If you Google "Jewish" or Jewish anything, probably one in ten sites is gonna be anti-Semitic. There we're getting a whole other set of information. And while pretty 56:00reprehensible -- not pretty -- while reprehensible and tragic, it's also information and has the potential to be manipulated in the same way that we sample old recordings. I think that for those of us who not only want to learn the culture but want to continue to transmit the culture, it's important to just be honest about it and to never assume that we know. Like, if I go over to Anna Gonshor's house and have Shabbos or seders with them, it's -- I'm encountering a world that is more authentic than any Jewish world I've been a part of. And it's an honor to be invited. I'm not afraid to talk about how I feel about my 57:00approach to the culture, but I would never assume to tell them that they need to change the way they appreciate it or perform it. This idea that there is one way is so false. And I think that's what leads to the notion of authenticity and -- that's a bit circuitous answer. I'm sorry.
CW:No, it's great. (laughs)
AM:I feel like I'm going around in circles a lot.
CW:I'm wondering if -- and maybe it's sort of an example through your master'spractical thesis, but do you have sort of an idea of a model to foster curiosity and -- in Yiddish culture in a really authentic way? I mean, do you have a vision for what that would look like? 58:00
AM:Well, I mean, there's two things. There's one that would be my vision forgoing on with my own work and another one which would be a model for programs that transmit culture. I would like to see programs like YIVO and like the Book Center, any archival programs, I'd like to see them take a much more practical approach. So, to really -- for instance, I think one thing would be an artist-in-residency program at each place. And I'm not just saying that because I'd like to do the program. (laughs) But to host and encourage artists and 59:00writers and any sort of creators to use the archives in -- to create new material. Not to present it or exhibit it or write about it directly, but to use it to create. I mean, there's a million books. And there's a -- old printing press. It's incredible! I'm lucky enough to have a Yiddish typewriter. And every time I use it -- I only use it for artwork. But it's an incredible piece of equipment. And the Book Center is full of things that could be used. I'd love to see that printing press in use. Not necessarily to print new books with it, but to do art projects with it. I'd love to see them have an artist-in-residence 60:00that they bring in. Not a program that you pay to do, but a program where you're fostering a project, and an artist proposes and say, Okay, I'm gonna take this box, and I'm gonna create something out of it. Whether that's a comic book or whether it's a piece of theater or new poetry. And it doesn't matter what the language is. The fact is that you're using the materials. Because those materials are there -- have a far greater value than just their contents. Their contents is of incredible cultural value, and then if you add the -- I don't know, even, what's -- like the tam [taste], the taste of them, the smell of them -- if you add all of that to it, there's no replacing them. And I don't see that 61:00happening. I see archives -- I know the Yiddish Book Center isn't really an archive, that they don't consider themselves an archive. But in many ways, that's what it is. And I see this kind of sequestering of information and not quite enough energy put into creating new information. 'Cause it's one thing to download the PDFs of the books. That's incredible. I love it. I use it all the time. You know, it's one thing to say, Oh, here, download the books. And it's another thing to say, Come into our home, and create something out of the books. And I would like to see that happening across the board, at places -- all of the camps, all of the -- or not the camps, but all of these cultural institutions. 62:00'Cause KlezKanada is an organization. KlezKamp is more than a camp. And they now have a university program. The Vilnius program, Yiddish Summer Weimar. I'd like to see them fostering projects. And I think that's the way to keep the curiosity going. 'Cause otherwise you just kind of -- there's a danger that it becomes only social. And I'm not sure danger's the right word, 'cause the social element is pretty amazing. And I love it. And a big part of it is the social, and that's actually a really important thing, this -- I always laugh -- at KlezKanada, we have a bit of a tension between people who want to go to sleep at night and people who want to stay up around the retreat center area. 'Cause many of our 63:00older participants stay in the retreat center, and of course that's the warm place to jam and party, right? And it's hard to tell young people that are having a great time in a very safe environment to stop enjoying what we've brought them there to enjoy. So, the social element's amazing. But there needs to be kind of -- it needs to be more than passive. It needs to be more than learning the language and learning the music. Yeah. And we see this a lot in music. There's a lot of really amazing people out there doing new Yiddish music. That I have to say, across the board. Could always be more, but there's a lot of them. And we see it less in other art forms. And I would like to see it more in 64:00other art forms. I'd like to see it in opera. I'd like to see it in theater. I'd like to see it in visual arts. I'd like to see it in photography. I can't always tell you what I want to see, but I know that I haven't quite seen it yet. In my own work as well, I'm by no means producing the work yet that I would -- that I'm writing about. It's a bit of a conundrum, but that's the way it is. We always strive toward something greater, right? And --- yeah, it's hard. It's hard. There's not always resources either. Right now I have a project in mind. I'd like to produce a Yiddish play all in Yiddish. I want to be pretty experimental about it. And I don't know where to get the support. I don't 65:00necessarily want to produce it through the Segal or through the Folksbiene because I want to have complete freedom to do what I want to do with it, market it the way I want to market it. But there's not as much support for Yiddish projects as there could be. And that's the kind of project that could be supported by one of these other Yiddish organizations. And I know they're always tight for money too, but I think they'd find that it was a valuable addition to what they offer.
CW:What inspires you in your work?
AM:What inspires me? What inspires me to do my work?66:00
CW:Yeah, or -- yeah. I guess we can start with that question, yeah. (laughter)
AM:Well, there's a certain amount of just drive. I've always loved theater, sothere's a certain amount of kind of just following one's bliss, as it's said. I find myself pretty unhappy when I'm not making work, and -- which is certainly a -- impetus to make work. I get really excited with working with people and creating possibilities with people. So, working with an ensemble and -- for me, once I can get to that point, that's a reason to go forward. I'm very inspired when I see other artists producing work. I often tend to be inspired in forms 67:00other than my own, so inspired by music or inspired by visual arts and -- wow. What inspires? I'm inspired by people who seem to create incredible work despite really high odds, (laughs) against high odds, 'cause I find that really difficult. And a bit awed by them as well.
CW:Then what inspires you as sort of source material?
AM:Okay, as source material. Yiddish poetry. I mean, in the Yiddish arena,Yiddish poetry. Yiddish ideals and politics. The kind of radicalism of a lot of 68:00Yiddish socialist politics. Turning things on their head. This idea of seeing things in many ways. I'm inspired by the heart of it, that I see in a lot of situations where I hear or experience Yiddish culture, I feel like there's a huge amount of heart and warmth. I also feel like there's a lot of tenacity to the language and the culture, you know? And I like the places where it hangs on. I really love that on Saint-Laurent, there's a place that makes Jewish gravestones and that their sign is in Yiddish. And I really love the fact that the first few times I walked past that sign, I didn't know what it said, and now 69:00I can read it. I'm inspired by the sounds and the qualities of things -- the look of the Yiddish language in print. You can see that in a lot of my artwork, that I just love the look of the alphabet. I think it's very beautiful. And I'm remembering a story; I was thinking about it the other day. There's a book that -- I believe it's in Hebrew or translated from Hebrew. I don't speak any Hebrew, but -- and it's about how the Jewish alphabet was created, like the order that God made the letters, and they each have a little story attached to them. So, I like that they seem to be a bit of a living organism. Yeah, I'm inspired by the 70:00music, particularly the nigunim [melodies] and the songs. I don't know, does that start to answer your question?
CW:Yeah. Yeah, it does. (both laugh)
AM:That's the hardest question you asked me. (laughs) I can talk on and on aboutthe academic stuff, but the other stuff is hard.
CW:Yeah. Well, I know that one -- at KlezKanada and elsewhere, you've beenteaching some of Yiddish dance in particular and sort of are becoming a source for transmission as well. What do you like about teaching?
AM:(sighs) Honestly, I like leading better than I like teaching, though I do71:00really like the teaching as well. What I love about Yiddish dance is the collectiveness of it. It's so easy. And I don't mean that in a derogatory way; I mean that in a really positive light. And the hard part is dancing together. And so many people have never experienced dancing together. I grew up folk dancing, and I loved it. Holding hands in a circle? But for many people, holding hands in a circle is something revolutionary, you know? I mean, I don't know when it happened that everybody started dancing in their own little individual bubble. I think it's kind of sad -- but folk dancing is very communal, and Yiddish folk 72:00dancing is particularly so because of its simplicity. Because it doesn't take a lot to get the steps, it's quite easy for people to dance as a group very quickly. And it's really fun; it's more fun than it seems it will be. I think that's my favorite thing about Yiddish folkdance, is that from the outside it often looks quite, I don't know -- it can look -- I don't even know the word. But I often have people coming up to me after I've led a class or a session at a festival. And they come up to me afterwards, and they're like, That was so much fun. I had no idea it would be so much fun. And I don't know what it is about the dancing that makes it look like it's not gonna be fun. But I love that. I 73:00love that you can help people dance together. So, that's what's kept me teaching. I started teaching because Jeff and Michael asked me to. I didn't apply to do it or -- I had gone for three years as a scholarship student, and then -- I was more surprised than anybody when they asked me to teach at KlezKanada. But I love it, and I've learnt a lot since then, since I started teaching, and have taught around the world since then. It's great. And you see -- I taught in Russia a couple years ago, twice, in Saint Petersburg, and that was a whole different experience as well because it was kind of far beyond language. I don't speak any Russian. And I had a translator, but it was amazing how getting a group to move together -- actually, there's contra dancing here in 74:00Montreal, and the guy who organizes it said this to me recently, he said, "Above all, the cause is just to get people dancing with each other to live music. With other people. To get people dancing with other people to live music." And it's so true. It's so true, and I think that's what keeps me going. It's funny 'cause over the years, while I've always continued teaching at KlezKanada, it became for a long time not my primary role there. And it was nice this year to have that be my primary role again. And to get to put more energy into working with people. And at KlezKanada the last couple years, I've taught a class in -- I 75:00call it "The Contemporary Yiddish Choreography for Performance" or something like that. Yiddish dance is not particularly performative folk dance, unlike Ukrainian, which is often highly choreographed and -- Yiddish dance is much more village dancing. So, my class looks at how you can break down the steps and put them back together in a way that might be performance-worthy. Which is the same thing I do in all of these others. And we work as a group. It's not me telling them how to take it apart; it's suggesting it. So, yeah. That's the dancing thing. I enjoy it. But it's also not an easy one to get people started in. You know, the New York tants-hoyz [dance event] that Pete Rushefsky runs, they did 76:00it like, four times a year for years before they had it once a month. It really takes a while to build that up. It's always really special when I get to dance with older -- with seniors who have more style than all of us young people put together. It's really incredible. I saw that at the Yiddish Theater Festival. I led a couple of sessions, and there was one woman in particular who just blew me away with her style. She's probably in her late eighties. That's what we have to teach, is the style. 'Cause the steps are easy. But to teach this -- the posture and the way they hold their body, that's a challenge. I try and teach women's style sometimes too. There's not a lot of female Yiddish dance teachers, so I 77:00try and make that one of my priorities, is that -- it's hard because my teachers are men, so it's -- I deal with, again, this fragmentation of memory, right? Like Zev and Michael, who are my primary dance teachers, they learnt from their parents and grandparents, including women. And then, they taught me. So, they're teaching me women's style. They told me that I have very authentic women's style. I'm not sure if that's just because I've been folk dancing my whole life or if I'm just an old lady at heart? Who knows. But so, then I need to teach it. But so, you're looking at men learning from women teaching women teaching 78:00whoever. And that's quite the mind-bending situation. So, I tend to tell people that we have to create our own style, but here are the elements that we use. And the other thing is that we're a different generation in a different world now. And honestly, the men's style is usually a lot more fun. They're the ones who get kicks and stamps and -- the women get some, but traditionally only with other women. So, in a lot of ways, we have to create our own situations and choose how we perform that.
CW:From your perspective and through your work, sort of what do you see -- the79:00current place of Yiddish within broader Jewish culture right now?
AM:(pause) I see it struggling. Broader Jewish culture, I don't think -- it'shard to compare Europe and North America -- and then again Israel, or anywhere else. I am very resistant towards this idea of a unified Jewish culture. And I call it the myth of Jewish culture, really. There is no one Jewish culture. And a lot of people will argue with me about that. But I don't see it. And so, 80:00against that, Yiddish is a very small element. And I think actually, if Jewish were not overwhelmingly seen as this mythical identity, Yiddish would have a much easier time. But as it is, it struggles against this kind of -- this myth. And the myth is overwhelmingly Israeli-oriented, even in North America. I read some statistic at one point that something like seventy-five or eighty percent of Jewish funding in North America goes towards Israel or Israeli-oriented activities. Which leaves basically operating budgets behind. It doesn't leave 81:00very much. But like, in Montreal, we have a Sephardic community and we have an Ashkenazic community. The Sephardic community's not interested in Yiddish, and why should they be, right? And the Ashkenazic community is a Yiddish community that has -- it's one of the more Yiddish communities in the world, but at the same time, there's not a lot of interest amongst the community, or a lot of knowledge. Not that I've seen, anyway. There are, of course, significant exceptions to the rule. And as somebody very involved in Yiddish culture, it feels like a struggle. And I find that kind of sad, that if I tell somebody that 82:00my way of being Jewish is Yiddish, that somebody has the chutzpah to tell me that that's not right. So, it's in a way less about what the place is of Yiddish than what the governing identity is. Right? It's a politics thing. And it's actually not about Yiddish at all. Yeah. I see that around. I like that there's a lot of different strains. I like that there are people who are learning Yiddish to teach their kids Yiddish, and people who are more of the postvernacular bent. I like that there are the people who want to hear "Oyfn Pripetchik [By the hearth]" every time somebody plays a Yiddish song, and I like that there are the people who can never hear "Oyfn pripetshik" again without 83:00vomiting. I like that we have this continuum of -- I think for me, that actually shows quite a healthy culture. If there are people arguing about it, nothing's dead. (laughs) If Yiddish was dead, we'd have stopped fighting about it, right? So, I really see that the issue is more of a -- is a larger one, is actually much beyond the Yiddish. And it's different wherever you are. I'm sure if I was in Vancouver, I'd have trouble building support for a Yiddish production in different ways. Less audience and -- or less Jewish audience. But when I produced "The Dybbuk" here, I put director's notes in the program. And I 84:00encouraged people to -- we didn't translate any of the Yiddish that we used. No supertitles, no anything. And I encouraged people to experience the Yiddish as they heard it, so that people in the audience who did speak Yiddish would hear the words. People in the audience who only spoke a little bit of Yiddish would catch bits. And people with no exposure to Yiddish at all would feel an alienation from the language, but could experience it as maybe the other actors were or as the other characters were. And I got a lot of positive feedback about that, because the process of not understanding is a really powerful one. Within 85:00the Jewish community, there's a fear of losing things that encourages condemnation rather than cultivation. And as an artist working with Yiddish themes at times -- not all the time, but sometimes -- I feel like I'm not being cultivated. I could say that generally about being an artist in general. But as an artist in general, I kind of understand that it's supposed to be hard. As far as Yiddish is concerned, I often feel disappointed that there is not more 86:00encouragement. I have some very wonderful mentors, you know, people like Anna Gonshor, Michael Alpert, and on and on, people who have given me a huge amount of their time and energy and support. But I don't feel cultivated by the organizations that could. And yet, at the same time, I listen to those organizations talking and talking and talking about continuity, unaffiliation -- I hear organizations talking about how to get the unaffiliated involved, how to get the unaffiliated affiliated. And I am the unaffiliated. And as of yet, they have yet to say anything that's gotten me affiliated. You know? And that's sad. 87:00So, I think that reflects the state of Yiddish, that it is difficult to find -- I think there's more academic funding than there is cultural funding. And the academics are important, but I think that it should be extended.
CW:Do you see yourself as a Yiddish activist?
AM:(sighs) Hm. I guess I would say yes. But I'm not -- I'm not even sure I wouldcall myself a Yiddishist. I think I would call myself a Yiddishist. But I'm not attempting fluency, and I'm -- in this way. So, Yiddish activist is kind of nice 88:00(laughs) as an alternative. And at the same time, I'm not going there and telling everybody that they should be interested in Yiddish. But I do often find myself out there telling people that they shouldn't be condemning Yiddish, which is a totally different thing, right? People can take or leave what they want, but they shouldn't tell me or anybody else that what we believe in is not valid. So yes, I would say I'm a Yiddish activist. Good question.
CW:(laughs) Cool. Well, I have maybe two more questions.
CW:But I wanted to just give you time, if there's anything that you reallywanted to say on these topics that a question might not get at.
AM:Oh, I think I've talked your ears off. So, no, I don't think so. I mean,there probably is, but I won't remember it in the next minute or so. So -- 89:00
AM:-- it'll come up in the next days; I'll be like, Oh, I should have told her that.
CW:You can email me. (laughs)
AM:You can put a textual addendum to the video.
CW:Sure. I'm wondering sort of about the term "cultural revival," which youdidn't like, and wondering sort of first of all, what you take that term to mean, and then why you don't necessarily like it, maybe.
AM:Okay. I haven't heard it used as "cultural revival" as much as I've heard"klezmer revival," which of course refers mostly to the musical aspect of it. And I don't like it mostly because by the time it was revived, it actually hadn't gone anywhere. It was still in the back rooms in clubhouses. The men who 90:00are credited -- not just men -- men and women who are credited with the klezmer revival probably came in at just the right time. Because they were still able to learn from the first- and second-generation musicians and sources. But I think that it wasn't dead, you know? And the fact that they're calling it a revival says that it was gone. And it's back to that question of living and dying again. "Renaissance" is a bit nicer. Similar. But kind of gives a bit more of a 91:00wavelike feeling. And that's what it feels to me, a bit more like waves. And also, they didn't -- like, if you use the word "revival," okay, so, revive it to what, you know? It's certainly more popular than it was twenty years ago, but at the same time, plenty of people don't know what Yiddish or klezmer is. So, it wasn't a worldwide renaissance or a -- and by not liking the word "revival," I don't want to take away from the importance of the work they did, because I think it was vital and timely. And their stories are amazing, and the videos are amazing, like the old videos of Bronya Sakina that Michael took of her dancing 92:00and her singing, and all of Itzik' work, and -- it's really important for us who are learning now, right? Without that, we wouldn't have very many first-generation sources at all. But yeah. I don't like the word.
CW:So, I want to just wrap up by asking what advice would you have to futuregenerations, sort of aspiring artists -- well, I guess -- let me ask two questions first. Sort of what would you want to encourage people into Yiddish culture? How would you convey that to another generation?
AM:I would say -- I think it's hard to convince anybody to go into Yiddish93:00culture. I think it's important to find your way in, right? Like, some people come in through the Yiddish songs; some people come in through the music; some people come in through the language. Some people do come in through academia and get totally swept away. And I would say that -- I think that exploring the in through the art is actually a really positive way to get involved and much more of an active way involved. You know, it's like learning anything. If we 94:00internalize it through action, we're gonna remember it better, and we're gonna make it our own. And I think that's the key, actually, that for anyone -- it doesn't matter what age they are, what generation they are -- anyone getting involved in Yiddish culture, the two most important things are find the way to make it your own, and stay curious. Don't stop learning. Don't assume. Make it your own, but never assume it's yours. Right? You're always -- yeah. In a way, we're always visiting it. I mean, maybe not everyone. For my friends who are native speakers, they have a totally different relationship to it, right? It's their mother tongue. It's a different kind of world and a different kind of heartbeat and -- but for someone like me who came to it later, I always feel 95:00like I'm visiting a little bit. And yet, in many ways, I feel like I have made it my own. I just would never assume that it's mine. It's a good way to describe any love affair. (laughs)
CW:Well, I think that's actually a great place to stop.
CW:So, a sheynem dank [thank you very much]. (laughs)
AM:Nishto far vos [You're welcome].
[END OF INTERVIEW]