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Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day, is the state of Israel’s official day of observance for the six million Jews who perished during the Holocaust. This year’s remembrance takes place April 18. Those looking for a suitable piece of music to commemorate the day might consider Ruth Schonthal’s String Quartet no. 3: In Memoriam Holocaust. Though Schonthal, whose own family escaped the Nazis, was reticent to address the topic, her artistic sensibility proved a reliable guide. She emerged with a moving tribute to Holocaust victims that pays homage to their suffering and despair without trivializing the scope or seriousness as we remind ourselves to “never forget.” (Photo Credit: Paul Seckel)
Rushing to pay off Uncle Sam for another year? Shed some tears of laughter -- instead of sadness or stress over your thinner wallet -- with Yiddish theater composer Joseph Rumshinsky’s Dir a "nikl," mir a "nikl" (A Nickel for You, a Nickel for Me). This hilarious song comes from the 1935 musical comedy Fishl der gerotener, a show about a luckless shlimazl. The piece is sung by the lead character, Fishl, a streetcar conductor who decides to split fares with his company. "The company should be getting up and dancing, thanking God that I don't take it all." Sound a little too familiar? (Photo: Yiddish Theater actor Menashe Skulnik as Fishel der Gerotener.)
In April 2000, the Milken Archive began one of its hallmark projects: the recording of Herman Berlinski’s Sabbath evening service, Avodat Shabbat. Long considered Berlinski’s magnum opus and one of the most important Jewish sacred services ever composed in America, the event held added significance due to the fact that it took place in Berlin. Berlinski, who was originally from nearby Leipzig and lived all over Europe before fleeing the Nazi’s, oversaw the recording session where he, among other things, instructed the German chorus on proper Hebrew pronunciation. Berlinski later avowed that the recording exceeded his own high expectations, and the event is still remembered by those involved as one of the most electrifying moments in the Archive’s 22-year history. Commissioned by Cantor David Putterman for his Sabbath Eve Service of Liturgical Music by Contemporary Composers series, Avodat Shabbat premiered at the Park Avenue Synagogue in 1958. Gerard Schwarz conducted the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin and Ernst Senff Choir, featuring Robert Brubaker, Constance Hauman, and Elizabeth Shammash. (Photo credit: Sina Berlinski Collection)