Posts tagged: Yiddish

Gone but not forgotten – the Barry Sisters

By , January 5, 2015 8:50 pm
Bagelman Sisters/Barry Sisters

Bagelman Sisters/Barry Sisters early photo with Claire Barry on the right.

Yiddish music icons, Merna and Claire Barry, entertained generations of Jewish Americans with their jazzy versions of Yiddish songs.

For over 40 years the Bagelman Sisters, later known as the Barry Sisters, were the darlings of Jewish entertainment. Their recordings could be found in almost every Jewish household in the 1950s and 60s. The younger of the two sisters, Merna, passed away in 1976. The older sister, Claire Barry, died on November 22, 2014 in Hollywood, FL at 94. Click here for full NY Times obituary.

Who were the Barry Sisters?

Two beautiful girls, dressed in the latest fashion, hair  perfectly coiffed, singing with sultry voices that could make your heart leap.

Born in New York, the two sisters were originally known as the Bagelman Sisters. Many saw them as the Yiddish answer to the popular Andrews Sisters in the 1940s. They combined old Jewish folk songs and Yiddish Theater ditties with swing arrangements and perfect harmony. When Clara and Minnie changed their names to Claire and Merna The Bagelman Sisters became The Barry Sisters. They have often been credited with creating Yiddish Swing, a music genre which did not exist previously.

The glamorous Barry Sisters were regular guests at Yiddish radio programs like Yiddish Melodies in Swing. They toured with the Ed Sullivan Show to the Soviet Union and performed in Israel in October 1962.

The popularity of their catchy and jazzy tunes may have paved the way for the Broadway hit, Fiddler on the Roof, and the klezmer revival of the late 70s.

Listed below are some of their most popular tunes. The Judaica Sound Archives has 41 recordings by this dynamic duo of Yiddish music.

Abi Gezunt (Stay healthy)

In Meine Oigen Bistie Shain (To me you are beautiful)

Channah from Havannah (A Gala Concert with Moishe Oysher album, no. 3).

Bublitchki (About the last bagel)

Dem Neyem Sher (At Home With album, no. 2).


Click here for more Barry Sisters recordings. Due to copyright concerns only snippets can be heard on our public website.  Full versions are available to users of the RSA Research Station.


RSA guest blogger, Niels Falch, is a PhD candidate at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands and is currently writing a dissertation on the influence of Jewish music in American popular songs.

Yiddish recordings a big hit at international conference

By , November 19, 2014 8:52 pm
RSA Director, Maxine Schackman, at the IAYC conference on Nov. 15 in Boca Raton, FL.

RSA Director, Maxine Schackman, at the IAYC conference on Nov. 15 in Boca Raton, FL.

RSA director, Maxine Schackman, told the audience at the International Association of Yiddish Clubs  conference in Boca Raton that FAU Libraries has been collecting Judaic recordings since 2002.

“We take these antique recordings and digitize them so that a new generation can learn and enjoy what came before them,” she said.

The Recorded Sound Archives website has the largest searchable online collection of Jewish music in the world with recordings by 7,344 Jewish performers, 13,776 albums and 72, 577 song titles.

Among the musical pieces Schackman presented that had the audience laughing and singing along were “Roumania, Roumania,” written and performed by Yiddish theater star Aaron Lebedeff; “Good Night ‘Oy Vey’ Irene”, a Yiddish parody of “Good Night Irene” sung by Seymour Rechtzeit and written by his wife, Miraim Kressyn; and “Bei Mir Bistu Shein,” a Yiddish swing song that became a number-one single in America in 1938 as recorded by the Andrews Sisters.

CLICK HERE to listen to a selection of Yiddish recordings.

CLICK HERE for full story written by Randall Lieberman and published in Jewish Journal.

Leo Fuld: A forgotten man?

By , October 30, 2014 1:42 pm

Leo FuchsDo you know this person?

Clue: He is a Dutch man who was once called the King of Yiddish Music.

Leo Fuld was one of the premier Yiddish performers in America during the 1950’s and 1960’s. Audiences loved to hear him sing Yiddish favorites in a combination of Yiddish and English. They loved his music which evoked the emotions and hardships of the Jewish people. Simply put, audiences loved the truth in his music.

One of his most famous compositions “Vi Ahin Zol lch Geyn? (Where Can I Go?), can still wrench the heart. It sold over one and a half million copies worldwide. Leo Fuld not only composed Yiddish songs, he also performed them with great success.  His list of recorded hits include: Ich Hab Dich Zu Viel Lieb (I Love You Much Too Much), Wus Geween Ist Geween, My Yiddishe Mama, Zigany Melody. The lyrics to his song, Mazzel, tells us something that we all know….a little luck can make a big difference!


You gotta have a little mazzel,Leo Fuld
Mazzel means good luck,
‘Cause with a little mazzel,
You always make a buck.
And if you have no mazzel,
Although you’re on the ball,
You try and try and can’t get by,
You beat your head against the wall.
Don’t ever try to figure, why you seem to be to blame,
That some folks have a million, and can’t even write their name!

Fuld was born into a large family (the third of ten) in Rotterdam, Netherlands. He served as a cantor in the synagogue when only 16 years old. Like other young men of the time, however, he was also attracted to popular music. Just before the outbreak of World War II, he left for America, established himself as a singer of Yiddish songs and became a well-known and successful performer.

Returning home after the war, Fuld was devastated to find his beloved Rotterdam bombed beyond recognition and his entire family murdered.  With his red-hair and European accent he became a very recognizable Jewish performer when he returned to the USA. Combining Yiddish songs with swing music, and using both Yiddish and English lyrics he achieved stardom among Jewish audiences in the 1950s and 1960s. Performing with super-stars like Frank Sinatra and Edith Piaf his admirers ran the gamut and included such luminaries as Frankie Laine, Billie Holiday, Al Jolson, Danny Kaye and even Albert Einstein.

Click here for more songs by Leo Fuld.

This blog was written by RSA guest blogger, Niels Falch. An independent researcher, Mr. Falch is especially interested in the influence of Jewish music on American popular songs. He lives near Amsterdam in Holland. Additional material supplied by Maxine Schackman, Director of the Recorded Sound Archives at FAU Libraries in Boca Raton, FL.

Jacqui Sussholz

By , July 5, 2011 12:47 pm

In 1990 Jacquie Sussholz produced Yiddish Is Forever, a 3-CD album composed of 48 songs. From songs of praise to songs of love, from songs of heartbreak and sorrow to songs of celebration, Yiddish songs have a special quality that pulls at the heart-strings.

Jacquie Sussholz honors his heritage and recreates an authentic yet up-to-date sound with his music. “My style is soul with passion – I express the spirit of traditional songs, but in arrangements that are modern and exciting.”

Chassidic nigunim and Yiddish popular music often provided a sound track for the lives of Jews who were born in the 20th century. Now fans of Yiddishkeit can enjoy listening to the music of Jacqui Sussholz.  The days of a vibrant Yiddish culture may be gone but the music can be preserved for the future so that it will never be lost.

Click here to listen to all 48 songs.

FAU’s Kultur Festival highlights the work of JSA

By , March 15, 2010 3:28 pm

Between March 6 and 11, 2010 the Boca Raton campus of FAU became a celebration of Jewish music and culture. It was the FAU Library’s second Kultur Festival. Events ran the gamut from klezmer concerts to cultural diversity forums. Two of these events highlighted the work of the Judaica Sound Archives.

The Man Who Spoke to God

Tues., March 9 : Dr. Jerry Glantz

The voice of the legendary Cantor Leib Glantz was one of the first to be heard on the JSA website. The importance of his compositions, the beauty of his voice and his unique ability to create an other-worldly spiritual experience for his listeners propelled him to prominence during the first half of the 20th century, also known as “The Golden Age of Hazzanut.”  We are exceptionally grateful to Dr. Jerry Glantz for allowing the JSA to showcase his fathers bountiful talents.

Dr. Glantz discussed his book, The Man Who Spoke to God,  a biographical loving tribute to his father, explained his father’s innovations in the field, and shared his father’s voice with the audience through recorded pieces. Especially dramatic was Cantor Glatntz’s rendition of Shema Yisrael. Dr. Glantz told the audience that because his father believed in improvisation the Shema was a new creation each time he sang it.

All of the recordings by this great cantor are available on the JSA website.

Yiddish Zingfest

Wed., March 10 : Phyllis Berk

BerkThere’s just something about Yiddishkeit that can fill you with a mixture of longing for days gone by, nostalgia, and concern about the future of Yiddish culture. When Jews immigrated to the USA from Eastern Europe, Yiddish was the language that they shared with each other. It was the language they spoke, read, wrote and sung. It was the language that expressed their struggles and their triumphs.

The JSA is committed to collecting recordings that express the Yiddish culture through music and humor. It is only through phonograph recordings that future generations will be able to hear for themselves what Yiddish sounded like in the early 1900s.

JSA Participating Performer, Phyllis Berk did an amazing job of bringing back the “old days” in this performance. Singing songs from her CD (Coming of Age)  like Shpilzhe Mir a Lidele, Unter Beymer, Grine Kuzine and Mein Shtetele Belz, she not only entertained her large audience, she led them down memory lane and roused them to sing along as well.

There are currently 167 Yiddish song albums on the JSA website that you can listen to at any time.


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