Posts tagged: Rosenblatt

Remembering the Titanic

By , April 4, 2013 4:51 pm

There are few stories which affect us as powerfully as the story of the sinking of the Titanic.

It is a story of arrogance, pomposity, and cruel disregard for human life.

It is a story of bravery, compassion and self-sacrifice.

It is a story about horrible deaths.

It is a story of survival.

The British ship Titanic sank in the North Atlantic Ocean on April 15, 1912 after colliding with an iceberg only four days into her maiden voyage. The sinking of the Titanic caused the deaths of 1,502 of the 2,224 passengers and crew she carried.

Noted for its luxury and opulence the Titanic had a swimming pool, first-class restaurants, and every modern convenience of the time. She carried hundreds of emigrants on their way to North America and also some of the wealthiest people in the world. This unsinkable vessel also carried only enough lifeboats for 1,178 souls.

On April 14, 1912 the Titanic hit an iceberg. The ship gradually filled with water. First class women and children were hurriedly loaded into lifeboats.  When the ship finally broke apart and foundered there were still over a thousand people aboard.  Two hours later the RMS Carpathia was able to rescue 705 survivors.

The disaster was greeted with worldwide shock and outrage at the huge loss of life and the procedural failures that had led to it. It is suspected that over 100 Jews died on the Titanic, many of them poor immigrants on their way to America. Others were crew members and also wealthy, prominent Jews who occupied first-class cabins. Jewish first-class passengers, Ida and Abraham Straus went down with the ship along with Jewish millionaire Benjamin Guggenheim.

Cantor Josef (Yossele) Rosenblatt, being a man of great heart, felt called upon to reach out with help for all those who had lost loved ones in the tragedy. Raising his powerful voice in song, he recorded “El mole rachmin (fur Titanic)” for Victor records soon afterwards. Record sales soared and Rosenblatt was able to collect over $150,000 in royalties, which was promptly donated to help the bereaved  families.  Click  to hear original recording.


English translation: Exalted, compassionate God,  grant perfect peace in Your sheltering Presence, among the holy and the pure,  to the souls of all our beloved who have gone to their eternal home. May their  memory endure as inspiration for deeds  of charity and goodness in our lives.  May their souls thus be bound up in the  bond of life. May they rest in peace.  And let us say: Amen.

The American Jewish community was especially touched by the bravery and death of Ida Straus who chose to die alongside her husband. Solomon Smulewitz, a prolific writer for the Yiddish theater, wrote “Der Naser Kaver (The Watery Grave)” a graphic and moving song about the tragic event. Click to hear the original recording.


English translation: There stand, in woe/The thousands in need/And know that death/will dash them down/Then they cry, “Save yourselves/into the boats quickly, women/No man dare/ Take a place tbere.”/But listen to one woman-soul/who can say/”I won’t stir from the spot/I’ll die here with my husband.”/Let small and great honor/the name of Ida Straus! (from Tenement Songs by Mark Slobin; 1982).

PLEASE click here  to hear FAU’s Recorded Sound Archives compilation of  14 original songs from the Titanic Era.

Serota collection yields long-forgotten treasures

By , August 25, 2011 12:21 pm

It was the “last box packed.” Now it was the last box to be unpacked. After going through 156 boxes of Cantorial, Yiddish and English-language recordings from the collection of Chicago record producer Barry Serota we stared at this box and knew that once it was opened our job of unpacking would be complete.

However, our work organizing, describing and investigating the music was just beginning!

Barry Serota, had devoted his life to collecting great Jewish music and producing high-quality recordings. Although we knew that this was a wonderful donation to the Judaica Sound Archives, we really couldn’t be sure what treasures we would find. As it turns out, we couldn’t be more pleased!

Of the 1,513 LPs that were unpacked we found at least 100 that were still in their original cellophane wrappers. There were also a few 45 rpm records, over seven hundred 78 rpm discs, 101 digital tapes, and 1,443 audio reel-to-reel tapes.

Benedict Stambler, founder of the Collector’s Guild recording company, had been Barry Serota’s mentor and friend. We were delighted to uncover several test pressings from the Collector’s Guild Archives Limited Edition series. There were numerous other test pressings as well, a few of them acetate.

Test pressings include: an acetate pressing of a synagogue service  radio broadcast led by Cantor Dale Lind made in 1941, a live concert by Cantor David Kousevitsky that was recorded in 1968, and a concert of folk songs by Rosenblatt.

The JSA has now been able to create a special collection of about 60 albums on the Musique Internationale label. This rare collection of recordings by a dedicated lover of Jewish music can now be enjoyed around the world on the JSA website.

The Judaica Sound Archives has greatly enhanced its already extensive collection of Judaic music with this acquisition and we are delighted to be able to share it with you. Recordings that cannot be played on the website due to copyrights will be made available on the JSA Scholar’s Research Station.

The trail of our vinyl

By , December 18, 2009 3:49 pm

Josh Kun__SS500_

I was listening to my local public radio station while I was driving to work the other day. Roger Bennett, co-author of And You Shall Know Us By the Trail of Our Vinyl, was talking with Marco Werman about his attempt to save decades of American Jewish music from obscurity.

We, at the JSA, are very proud of our participation in helping Roger and his co-auther, Josh Kun to find materials that eventually found its way into their wonderful book.

Even though he didn’t mention us by name, we knew who Roger was talking about when he mentioned visiting Boca Raton, Florida, “where old Jewish vinyl goes to die.” When JSA Director, Nathan Tinanoff listened to the interview he told me, “He got that wrong! The JSA isn’t where old Jewish vinyl goes to die.  It is where it goes to be reborn!”

The book is a wonderful compendium of stories, information, photos, and album covers from the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s.

Josh Kun, Associate Professor of communication and journalism at USC Annenberg School for Communication and the author of Audiotopia: Music, Race, and   America, which won a 2006 American Book Award, co-authored the book with Roger Bennett who also co-authored Bar Mitzvah Disco.

The authors write about how they “encountered the Judaica Sound Archives of Florida Atlantic University, where Nathan Tinanoff and his devoted staff generously opened their collection to us.”  And where they found “thousands of LPs, shelf after shelf filled with dsicarded cardboard and vinyl that we gushed over like scientists marveling at new speciments” (p.17).

Looking through the book is an education and a trip down memory lane. From Steisand to Bagels and Bongos by the Irving Fields Trio, from Molly Pecon to the Four Bursteins, from Neil Sedaka to Theodore Bikel, the names and images pop off the pages.

The following JSA featured performers are highlighted in the book: Cantor Yossele Rosenblatt, Oysher-Michaels Family, Benny Bell , The 4 Bursteins, Gladys Gewirtz, Shimon & Ilana Gewirtz, Gadi Elon.

A friend of mine who loves the book told me that when she goes on the JSA website it is like the “book comes to life” right on her computer. I can’t think of a nicer compliment.

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