Rumenye (back) on the klezmer bandwagon? By Julie Dawson

Until quite recently, notably absent from the map of the institutions and events working to revive and commemorate Yiddish culture in central and eastern Europe has been Romania, that fabled land, beautiful, sweet, and fine, where, to quote Aaron Lebedeff, one can live a carefree life, drinking wine all the time, kissing girls, and eating the local gastronomical specialties – carnaţi (sausages, kosher naturally), mamaliga (corn porridge), brînza, and caşcaval (soft and hard cheese). As succinct an illustration as any of the existing gap in cultural memory were the pregnant silence and blank faces greeting New York-based klezmorim Deborah Strauss, Jeff Warschauer, and Benjy Fox-Rosen when in 2009 they opened a concert in Transylvania with the well-known (in American Jewish circles) strains of Lebedeff’s 1920s vaudeville hit Rumenye Rumenye. Fox-Rosen, bassist and singer, recalls “There was absolutely no sign of recognition.”

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