The Boston Festival of New Jewish Music is a free monthly concert series presenting original music drawing from the Jewish cultural experience. Hosted by BackRoom at The Boston Synagogue, co-presented by JArts, and live-streaming everywhere, the Boston Festival of New Jewish Music highlights the best in Jewish-influenced music by composers and performers who live right here in our own backyard.

 

2023-2024 (5784) Season

Shterna and the Lost Voice, a new Yiddish folktale

Wednesday, April 17, 2024 at 7pm

The Boston Synagogue, 55 Martha Road, Boston

Join us! – for Shterna and the Lost Voice: a musical crankie storytelling adventure! This new folktale by A. C. Weaver is inspired by mythical stories of Elyahu Hanovi and traditional Yiddish folklore. Shterna and the Lost Voice follows a young woman’s quest from the realms of the dead to the celestial gardens of the immortal – all to restore her friend's lost voice. Shterna’s epic adventure is accompanied by live original klezmer music while the narrative unfolds through a papercut crankie. This dynamic performance is geared towards audiences of all ages!

Shterna and the Lost Voice is presented by The Magid Ensemble (magid, meaning “storyteller” in Yiddish) –  a new collaboration featuring award-winning klezmer musicians and composers Mattias Kaufmann, Raffi Boden, and Rachel Leader, Yiddishist storyteller A. C. Weaver, and visual artist Kiah Raymond. The Magid Ensemble explores the interplay of sound, story, light, and shadow to create expressive and immersive storytelling landscapes.

What is a crankie? 

A crankie is a long scroll wound onto two spools that illustrates a story as it unwinds. Kiah Raymond's original crankie incorporates shadow puppetry inspired by Jewish papercut art.

Hadar Ahuvia's nefesh + Dance Party

Wednesday, May 22, 2024 at 7pm

The Boston Synagogue, 55 Martha Road, Boston


Join us for an evening of dance at the Boston Festival of New Jewish Music!


First: Hadar Ahuvia's nefesh

Then: Community Yiddish dance party with the house klezmer band


nefesh sutures across generations and genres, weaving together contemporary dance, traditional Ashkenazic music, feminism, and neo-Hasidism. It reaches back to my traditional, yiddish speaking great-grandparents, reclaiming cultures nearly destroyed by anti-semitism and Zionism. 


nefesh lingers in the details of shuckling, vocal sliding, unmetered singing and krechtsing, that distinguish the eastern European Jewish soundscape. It foregrounds the labor, sensuality, and life-giving nourishment of sacred service, and the wisdom of the body, our wandering - 

navenaden - altar.

---

Hadar is a dance artist, educator, ritual leader, rabbinical student and a student of eastern european jewish vernacular and cantorial music. 


Her essay “Joy Vey” on choreographing an Israeli identity beyond Zionism is featured in the Oxford Handbook of Jewishness and Dance. 


Her choreographic credits include Baryshnikov Arts Center, Danspace Project, Yaddo, 14th St Y, Gibney, Movement Research, NJCF,  a Bessie nomination for Outstanding Breakout Choreographer, and Dance Magazine’s ‘25 to Watch in 2019.’


Her works aim to facilitate spaces for embodied processing, imagination and transformation. 

HadarAhuvia.com

Past shows this season

Di Boston Fidl Kapelye plays The Modern Klezmer

Wednesday, March 13, 2024 at 7pm

The Boston Synagogue, 55 Martha Road, Boston


Join this supergroup of Boston's klezmer fiddle players for a concert and dance party featuring gems of the Yiddish violin repertoire alongside new compositions by members of the ensemble. 


With Abigale Reisman, Yaeko Miranda, Lysander Jaffe, Rebecca Macinnes, Rachel Leader, and Kirsten Lamb. 


Dance leading by Adah Hetko!

Wild Burning Rage and Song: Replies to Scottsboro

Sunday, March 10, 2024 at 7pm

The Boston Synagogue, 55 Martha Road, Boston


The Scottsboro Trials stand as one of the most renowned miscarriages of justice in the history of American jurisprudence. Beginning in 1931 with a false accusation of rape against nine Black teenagers, the case went on to invigorate a nascent Civil Rights movement, earn the international support of Communist Party, and establish itself as a watchword among various strands of the American Left. It inspired reaction from the contemporary world of arts and letters as well, most famously by poets Langston Hughes and Richard Wright and novelist Harper Lee, who adapted its events in To Kill A Mockingbird.


The international, politically-oriented Yiddish intelligentsia of the Thirties was no less galvanized, producing a body of creative response that passionately took up the themes of the trial, juxtaposing its American injustices with a diversity of images, tropes and language imbued with their own distinct histories of oppression.


Wild Burning Rage and Song: Replies to Scottsboro brings this world alive as a concert-lecture featuring Professor Amelia Glaser, author of Songs in Dark Times: Yiddish Poetry of Struggle from Scottsboro to Palestine (Harvard University Press), composer/vocalists Heather Klein and Anthony Russell, and composer/pianist Uri Schreter, performing their new settings of Yiddish and English poetry written in response to the pervasive climate of race prejudice that gave birth to the Scottsboro trials—and other injustices to come.

Levyosyn

Wednesday, February 21, 2023 at 7pm

The Boston Synagogue, 55 Martha Road, Boston


Levyosn takes its name from the Ashkenazi Hebrew word for the leviathan, a mythical sea creature traveling the world’s oceans collecting songs, krill, and dreams. Like their namesake, this ensemble moves with strength and depth, through finely crafted harmony-rich arrangements of Yiddish folksongs, klezmer instrumentals and original compositions.

Itay Dayan - Hoffman's Farewell

Thursday, January 18 at 7pm

The Boston Synagogue, 55 Martha Road, Boston


In 1927, klezmer musician Joseph Hoffman put to paper a folio of klezmer music. 96 years later, in June of 2023, his family published the book.Clarinetist Itay Dayan arranged a selection of the most unique and unknown pieces from the book for a 7 piece band and recorded it as a new album - "Hoffman's Farewell". With original, modern arrangements and a fresh band, this is guaranteed to be a special experience.

Alicia Svigals and Donald Sosin - THE CITY WITHOUT JEWS

Thursday, January 4, 2024 at 8pm

Somerville Armory, 191 Highland Ave, Somerville

Alicia Svigals may just be the world's greatest living klezmer violinist.


The Boston Festival of New Jewish Music is delighted to present Alicia alongside celebrated silent film pianist Donald Sosin in a cine-concert performance of THE CITY WITHOUT JEWS.


First shown in 1924, THE CITY WITHOUT JEWS is the best known work of Austrian Expressionist filmmaker Hans Karl Breslauer. Based on the 1922 novel by Hugo Bettauer, it is a satirical allegory of the near future for Europe, a sendup of antisemitism that was remarkable prescient and has remained unfortunately relevant.


Join us for this live presentation at the Somerville Amory, with live original music composed and performed by world-renowned klezmer violinist Alicia Svigals and celebrated silent film pianist Donald Sosin.


This program is made possible in part thanks to the generous support of the Sunrise Foundation for Education and the Arts.

Khanike Klezmer Spectacular

Featuring Michael Winograd and the Honorable Mentshn with Sasha Lurje. Opening performance by Ezekiel's Wheels Klezmer Band. Afterparty by Zach Mayer's Electronic Jerusalem

Wednesday, December 13, 2023 at 7pm

The Somerville Armory, 191 Highland Ave, Somerville, MA

It's a Khanike (Chanuka, Hanukkah, Janucá...) Klezmer Spectacular!

Featuring some of the greatest klezmer bands, most fabulous Yiddish singers, and best dressed clarinetists in the world:

Friends, this is not one to be missed.

Join the Boston Festival of New Jewish Music and all of your friends to dance the night away and celebrate Chanukah (Hanukkah, Janucá, Khanike...) the best way we know how: with music, dance, and joy.

A Meeting of the Arts with Ira Klein, Beth Bahia Cohen, and Rachel Linsky

Thursday, November 30 at 6:00pm

The Vilna Shul, 18 Phillips Street, Boston, MA

This performance, titled A Meeting of the Arts, is an immersive art experience featuring original music and dance by composer and guitarist Ira Klein, multi-instrumentalist Beth Bahia Cohen, and dancer Rachel Linsky. This work is inspired by guitarist Ira Klein’s research into the mysterious Catalan Mahzor, a 14th-century Jewish illuminated manuscript from Spain. 

Book release, season opener, and dance party!

Wednesday, November 15th, 2023, 7:00pm

The Boston Synagogue, 55 Martha Rd, Boston, MA

A book release, a klezmer dance, and a birthday party all at once? It must be the season opener at the Boston Festival of New Jewish Music!


Join us on Wednesday, November 15th at the Boston Synagogue for a celebration of new Jewish culture as we perform music from BFNJM Artistic Director Nat Seelen's upcoming book, 

New Klezmer Dances: Volume 1.

 

We'll be joined by 2022-23 JArts/CJP Community Creative Fellow Rachel Linsky leading dancing and an absolutely crackerjack band of Nat Seelen on clarinet, Edmar Colón on saxophone, Cory Pesaturo on accordion, Kirsten Lamb on bass, and Grant Smith on drums.


You've heard them with Itzhak Perlman, Esperanza Spalding, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Now, hear them together at the Boston Synagogue.


Oh yeah, and it's Nat's birthday party! There will be cake, snacks, and drinks.

This donation link supports PayPal and all major credit cards. Thank you for supporting the #BFNJM and all of our amazing artists!

 

 

Get Involved

 Volunteer

Behind every incredible event is a crew of wonderful volunteers helping everything run smoothly. Volunteers support the #BFNJM through checking audience members in at the front, setting and striking the room, monitoring the live stream, and more. If you're interested in joining the team, fill out the form below and we will be in touch soon.

 Perform

Our success depends on our community of amazing musicians. If you would like to be considered to perform for an upcoming season, fill out the form below and we will respond as soon as we are able.

Donate

Our concerts are free to attend but not to produce. In fact, they're rather expensive, because we're committed to compensating our artists and technical staff appropriately for their work. If you believe that bringing great music to the people of Boston is a worthwhile endeavor, consider making a tax-deductible donation to the #BFNJM today.

Join our mailing list

Because you might not want more emails, but you want ours!

 

About the #BFNJM

The Boston Festival of New Jewish Music was created by local musicians who believe that:


If you believe any of these things, or just want to hear some amazing concerts, join us for this season of the Boston Festival of New Jewish Music.


Partners

Special thanks go out to our partner organizations for believing in and supporting live music at such a difficult time for musicians.


The Boston Synagogue

A wonderful spirit is alive at The Boston Synagogue. We are a warm, small, neighborhood shul, and the only synagogue located in the heart of downtown with Shabbat and Holiday Services 52 weeks per year.

Our Mission is to serve the needs of the diverse community of Jews in downtown Boston, whether through joyful participatory worship, Friday Night Dinners, Saturday morning Kiddush, or Holiday celebrations, as well as with a slew of Cultural Events and other fun and engaging opportunities to connect with our open, vibrant community. The Shul also offers dynamic learning experiences for everyone, from our growing Hebrew School to Adult Education programs.

http://bostonsynagogue.org/


JArts Boston

JArts™ brings people together to explore and celebrate the diverse world of Jewish art, culture, and creative expression.

We believe in the unique power of arts and culture to build connections. Art, food, literature, music, and more allow us to better understand the life experiences of others as well as our own, and help to build a vibrant and more tolerant future for both our Jewish and Greater Boston communities.


JArts™ creates programs that bring people together — in the Greater Boston area and around the world — to celebrate and elevate the diverse world of Jewish art, culture, and creative expression. Let culture connect us.

https://jartsboston.org/


CJP - Combined Jewish Philanthropies

At CJP, we are working every day to make our world a better place. We’re raising and investing money, building relationships and growing partnerships to address our community’s greatest challenges, and offering diverse opportunities to build a meaningful Jewish life.

https://www.cjp.org/

 

Thank you to our sponsors and supporters!

NEFA

Funded in part by the New England States Touring program of the New England Foundation for the Arts, made possible with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts Regional Touring Program and the six New England state arts agencies.

Boston Cultural Council

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Boston Cultural Council, administered by the Mayor's Office of Arts and Culture.

Newton Cultural Council

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Newton Cultural Council, a local council that is supported by the Mass Cultural Council and the City of Newton


Mass Cultural Council

CJP

JArts

You?

Donate to the Boston Festival of New Jewish Music at https://paypal.me/bfnjm.

 

Join the party, just this once or every month!