International Association of Yiddish Clubs
14th Conference, August 26th–29th, 2011 Sheraton Detroit Novi, Novi, MI


“The Purim Shpiel” by the PuppetART Theater of Detroit

The theater was formed in 1995 by a trio of Russian émigrés, all theater professionals. As newcomers, they honored their Jewish European history by creating their first production, Purim Shpiel. With the help of the Jewish community they began as a touring company and eventually added new, more diverse productions performing locally as well as nationally. In 1998, the troupe established it’s own theater in downtown Detroit. PuppetART is not only a professional resident puppet theater it features hands-on puppet making workshops and tours of its extensive puppet museum. This “rod puppet” performance is in I. Manger’s original wonderful Yiddish with concurrent English translations delivered by the tailor, Fastrigosa, also a puppet. A lively musical show that will delight all ages, Yiddishists as well as those less proficient  in Yiddish.


Judith Eisner and Douglas Cole

Judith Eisner has taught violin at MacPhail Center for Music in Minneapolis for the past 26 years. She is the director of the New Horizons String Orchestra for older adults. She has a vast expanse of musical interests from Tanglewood summer orchestras, as a teenager, studying Baroque music in Europe, playing English Country Dances for decades and playing klezmer music in Montreal's KlezKanada. She is the Eisner in “Eisner's Klezmorim”, the virtuosic traditional ensemble, as well as the organizer and punster in the former klezmer group called Tsatskelehs . Her partner, Doug Cole, is a mandolin player and Irish fiddler, and all-around production manager of music and graphics.


Neil Alexander and The Klezmer Fusion Band

Songs are interpreted accurately and sensitively because of the vocalist’s knowledge of both Yiddish and Hebrew. The Klezmer Fusion Band plays authentic Yiddish fraylachs, horas, Israeli circle and line dances, Yiddish swing, lullabies and waltzes. If you can’t sing it or dance to it, they don’t play it. Don’t know the dances? “Doctor Neil” has the cure! He and his assistants lead Israeli circle and line dances. Inspiration for the “Klezmer Fusion Band” comes from European tradition, Israeli contemporary music, Hassidic, liturgical and Biblical sources. They brilliantly fuse the old with the new including melodies inspired by the Tanach and Siddur.


Cantor Michael Smolash

After serving seven years at Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto as Chazzan Sheini, Michael came to Temple Israel in West Bloomfield where in a few short years he along with his Cantorial Soloist Neal Michaels, has transformed Temple Israel’s “liturgical” music into beautiful inspirational “prayer music”. In Toronto, as member of ACTRA Equity, Michael stared in “Forever Plaid”, “Forty Second Street”, “The Fantastics” and “The Producers” among others. He is sought after both for performing and new commissions. At Temple Israel, his Yiddish production of “A Bis’l Zun” drew rave revues all over the country and it is available on DVD here at the conference.


Neil Michaels

Neil was well on his way to Opera and Broadway when he changed careers to become Cantorial Soloist at Temple Israel in West Bloomfield. Neil comes from an illustrious family of musicians and cantors having  performed leading roles at The Met, The Opera Company of Philadelphia, The Connecticut Grand Opera, The Santa Fe Opera and most recently, The Ann Arbor Opera Company in “Carmen”. In addition to opera, Neil has toured the country in many works from the Broadway stage. Neil holds a degree from The Julliard School and accomplished  graduate studies at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.


Susan Leviton

Susan Leviton dips into a treasure trove of rarely heard Yiddish song, She weaves an unforgettable program of depth and brilliance each time she shares her music.   Susan’s enthusiasm and rich, earthy voice, coupled with her skills in crafting a complete program in impeccable Yiddish “engage her audiences in a way few Yiddish performers do.”   We’ll travel di yidishe velt together, sharing laughter, memories, and surprises in song. Susan is in demand as a teacher/performer at KlezKamp and other Yiddish culture gatherings, and sings both a cappella as well as with accompaniment and has sung with  Zalmen Mlotek, Michael Winograd, and Pete Sokolow.


Daniel Kahn

“Danny” is a native Detroiter who as a child actor performed often with the Jewish Ensemble Theater. Dan attended the University of Michigan where he studied acting, directing, playwriting and poetry, winning the University’s prestigious “Hopwood Award” After graduating and some traveling,  he settled in New Orleans to focus on music and theatre, playing late night lounge piano,  bluegrass, leading punk circus parades playing the accordion to directing, acting, producing and composing. Dan and his “Painted Bird” band presently live in Berlin and perform in Europe as well as North America. He will be joining us directly from Klez Kanada  along with Adrienne Cooper and Jack Weintraub.


Steve Weintraub

Steve was born on Governor’s Island and Bar Mitzvahed in the Bronx Steve trained professionally  Manhattan, receiving his dance training with Alvin Ailey and Erick Hawkins. He is an internationally known teacher of Yiddish dance conducting workshops from Krakow to London and points in between. Steve delights in introducing people to the figures, steps and style of Klezmer music dancing and is often called the “Pied Piper of Yiddish Dance”. His year of experience allows him to quickly weave dancers and music together in astounding ways. He will be conducting an open workshop on Sunday in Ballroom D at 4:00 and will lead us in open dancing on Sunday evening. Jack is coming directly from KlezKanada along with Adrienne Cooper and Daniel Kahn.