Remembering the Great Preserver of Traditional Jewish Music, Velvel Pasternak

June 18 2019

Much like the great Russian-Jewish writer, activist, and ethnographer S. An-sky (1863-1920), Velvel Pasternak—who died last week at the age of eighty-five—dedicated much of his life to recording, transcribing, and publishing traditional Jewish music. Greer Fay Cashman writes:

Pasternak was born in Toronto, to Polish immigrant parents, and made a sufficiently important contribution to Jewish music to receive an obituary in the editorial sections of several American newspapers. . . . In the U.S., primarily New York, he would visit ḥasidic residential enclaves with a tape recorder in his hand to capture the melodies of the Modzitz, Lubavitch, Vizhnitz, Breslov, and Ger dynasties for posterity. His mission was to ensure that they would not become extinct.

But he did not limit himself to ḥasidic music. All Jewish music—Yiddish and Ladino, cantorial, choral, and klezmer, and the traditional songs sung by North African and Asian Jews—found its way into the many anthologies and essays he published. He even managed to find, record, and arrange Jewish music that had been composed in the ghettos and the camps during the Holocaust. In fact . . . he published more than 150 volumes of Jewish music.

Through his Tara Publications, which he founded in 1971, he became the largest publisher of Jewish music around the globe. . . . Pasternak also produced and conducted ḥasidic concerts, thus exposing both the exhilarating joy and the poignant pathos of ḥasidic music to audiences far removed from the religious movement.

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Hasidism, Jewish music, Ladino, Yiddish


American Aid to Lebanon Is a Gift to Iran

For many years, Lebanon has been a de-facto satellite of Tehran, which exerts control via its local proxy militia, Hizballah. The problem with the U.S. policy toward the country, according to Tony Badran, is that it pretends this is not the case, and continues to support the government in Beirut as if it were a bulwark against, rather than a pawn of, the Islamic Republic:

So obsessed is the Biden administration with the dubious art of using taxpayer dollars to underwrite the Lebanese pseudo-state run by the terrorist group Hizballah that it has spent its two years in office coming up with legally questionable schemes to pay the salaries of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), setting new precedents in the abuse of U.S. foreign security-assistance programs. In January, the administration rolled out its program to provide direct salary payments, in cash, to both the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the Internal Security Forces (ISF).

The scale of U.S. financing of Lebanon’s Hizballah-dominated military apparatus cannot be understated: around 100,000 Lebanese are now getting cash stipends courtesy of the American taxpayer to spend in Hizballah-land. . . . This is hardly an accident. For U.S. policymakers, synergy between the LAF/ISF and Hizballah is baked into their policy, which is predicated on fostering and building up a common anti-Israel posture that joins Lebanon’s so-called “state institutions” with the country’s dominant terror group.

The implicit meaning of the U.S. bureaucratic mantra that U.S. assistance aims to “undermine Hizballah’s narrative that its weapons are necessary to defend Lebanon” is precisely that the LAF/ISF and the Lebanese terror group are jointly competing to achieve the same goals—namely, defending Lebanon from Israel.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, U.S. Foreign policy