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  • Velvel Zbarzher: Jewish Bard

    12 March 2021

    The Old Country? How did it smell? Sound? Was it as unified and cosy as the proponents of Heritage Travel would have us believe? Was there really a strong sense of community? Did Chagall’s phantom figures tap their toes to the familiar tunes of Fiddler...

  • The Vanished Jewish Farming Community of Edenbridge in Western Canada

    09 January 2021

    Three hundred and seventeen kilometres north of Regina Saskatchewan, out on the empty flat Canadian prairie, is the Beth Israel Synagogue of Edenbridge. This region is the one of best wheat-growing areas in the world, although that fact was unknown to...

  • The Ports and the Immigrant Ships in the 19th century

    23 January 2021

    Shipping Company Port Dormitory Immigrant trade was the staple of European steamship lines. Timber and cotton filled the holds on the inward voyage, and people on the outward. Liverpool, Southampton, Rotterdam, Cherbourg, and Hamburg were the major ports...

  • A Contrary Journey with Velvel Zbarzher, Bard

    17 June 2021

  • A Very Simplified History of Eastern Europe, the Slavs and the Jews: Part One

    08 April 2022 ( #Slavs and Jews, Early History of Eastern Europe )

    The origin of the Slavs The Slavs are Indo-Europeans who, during the Neolithic period, became separated from the larger linguistic family. By 1400-1200 BCE these Balto-Slavs split into two language groups: Baltic, the ancestor of both Latvian and Lithuanian,...

  • The Romanian Jewish Fusgeyers

    27 December 2020

    The Fusgeyers and the Jewish Pedestrian Movement After 1899, those who organized themselves into groups to walk across Romania called themselves fusgeyers (pronounced “foosgayer” — the Yiddish word for foot-goers, pedestrians or wayfarers). Fusgeyers...

  • Itsik Manger: Bard

    11 April 2021

    photo from https://www.museumoffamilyhistory.com The “Father of Yiddish Theatre”, Avrom Goldfaden, and the Jewish bards Velvel Zbarzher, and Elyokem Tsunzer, came back to life in the 1930s via the poet Itsik Manger. Born Isidor Helfer in 1901, son of...

  • How Jewish Theatre Began

    01 January 2021

    In 1661, the Jewish Council of Vilna issued a decree banning merry-making fire dances, plays, and masquerades although the badkhonim (wedding jesters) were allowed to continue their acts during marriage ceremonies. Theatrical performances were limited...

  • Budapest and Rural Exodus

    03 December 2020

    Hungarian Jewish Farmers (Photos Courtesy of the Memorial Museum of Hungarian Speaking Jewry, Safed, Israel) After 1900, Jewish society glittered in Budapest. Although comprising only a tiny six percent of the population, f orty-two percent of journalists,...

  • The Romanian Jews and the Fusgeyer Movement

    31 January 2021

    The Barlad Fusgeyers with their horse, wagon, and the three women who were part of the group In 1858, ten years later, after the Peace Treaty of Paris concluded the Crimean War, the principalities of Moldavia and Walachia united to become the new country...

  • The Haskalah

    19 December 2020

    Former shtetl street, Ukraine Like the earlier eighteenth century European Enlightenment, [1] the late eighteenth century Jewish Enlightenment — the Haskalah [2] — fought religious orthodoxy and abuse. Its advocates, known as Maskilim, [3] pointed to...

  • Jewish Life in The Ward, Toronto, 1900

    29 March 2021

    A Privy in the Ward The district that lies between College and Queen Streets, Yonge Street and University Avenue (known as the Ward) is generally regarded by the respectable citizens of Toronto as a strange and fearful place into which it unwise to enter...

  • A Very Simplified History of Eastern Europe, the Slavs and the Jews: Part Two

    21 November 2022

    After the collapse of Kievan Rus Large-scale migration of Jews out of the Holy Roman Empire and into Kievan Rus (later Ukraine) began in 1096 in the wake of the First Crusade. In 1348-49, accused of being agents of the devil and responsible for the outbreak...

  • The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth

    02 December 2020

    Photo: Former Polish castle in today's Ukraine Ask around: how many people know about the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth? Few. Yet, after Poland and Lithuania united in 1569, their powerful bi-confederation stretched over Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, most...

  • Book Q&As with Deborah Kalb

    09 February 2022

    Q&A with Jill Culiner Sunday, January 9, 2022 Jill Culiner is the author of the new book A Contrary Journey with Velvel Zbarzher, Bard . Zbarzher was a 19th century poet and singer. Culiner's other books include Finding Home in the Footsteps of the Jewish...

  • Jewish Book Peddlers in Eastern Europe

    11 January 2023 ( #Jewish peddlers, Eastern Europe, )

    The life of a Jewish travelling merchant wasn’t easy. Required to possess special licences, they were easy prey for bandits and roving bands of soldiers. Roads, always rutted and treacherous, were studded with tollgates, some official, some arbitrary,...

  • The arrival of Eastern European Jews in Nineteenth Century France

    13 December 2020

    Established French Jewish businessman Fernand Aaron The Paris train stations — Gare du Nord, Gare de l’Est, and Gare de Lyon — were where, in the nineteenth century, Jewish refugees, fleeing Eastern European’s pogroms and charges of blood libel, first...

  • Elyokem Tsunzer, poet, badkhn, and the New York literary movements in 1900

    04 June 2021

    Drawing by Jacob Epstein for Hutchins Hapgood, The Spirit of the Ghetto : Studies of the Jewish Quarter in New York Born in Vilna in 1841, Elyokem Tsunzer was the son of a poor but pious carpenter. Apprenticed to a gold weaver at age six, when his master...

  • Journey To Dubno

    04 December 2020

    In Dubno, in the old centre of the town, I pass under a sagging arcade and through a courtyard. Suddenly, here I am: in the old Jewish shtetl. Here, alleyways and leaning houses are just the way I’d pictured them. It’s how things must have looked back...

  • A Vegetarian Version of a Strange Soup Called Petcha, Petche, or Ptse

    19 March 2021

    Petcha is an old-world hearty soup when served hot (a calves foot jelly when chilled). Today, we are sharing a recipe handed down through the generations. Author Jill Culiner brings it to life with

  • Fried Matzo is Boring? No Way! Here’s a Modern Twist to a Classic Recipe

    23 April 2021

    Rival grandmothers debating the recipe for fried matzo Yogurt is the secret ingredient to this fried matzo, converting a classic matzo brei to a light buttery Passover breakfast with a gluten-free option. Simple, easy-to-make food is sometimes best ....

  • Another part of our history: how to make authentic Hungarian/Jewish dill pickles

    22 February 2021

    We are excited to share this Hungarian pickles recipe, along with a fascinating tale by author Jill Culiner. You can read more about her below. No pickles could be as wonderful as those my ...

  • The Best Fermented Hot Sauce in the World...(maybe)

    12 August 2021

    Read how to do it on Kibitz Spot: https://www.kibitzspot.com/fermented-hot-sauce-recipe/

  • All About A Contrary Journey on Kibitz Spot

    24 September 2021

    We are excited to share with you a new book by Jill Culiner. Entitled A Contrary Journey. It tells the story of the Jewish enlightenment. Jill follows Velvel Zbarzher, a bard in the 19th-century Old Find links to buy A Contrary Journey with Velvel Zbarzher,...

  • Audio Podcast: A Contrary Journey with Velvel Zbarzher, Bard

    15 December 2021

    The beginning of my journey to find Velvel Zbarzher Available from Claret Press Paperback https://payhip.com/b/o7M23 Ebook https://payhip.com/b/HmK5C Or ... A Contrary Journey with Velvel Zbarzher, Bard: Chapter One, Paris