The “Song Searcher” of Jewish Ukraine

March 24 2022

In the 1930s and 40s, Moyshe Beregovsky, a Jewish folklorist and musicologist, traveled through his native Ukraine carrying primitive recording equipment from shtetl to shtetl. The recordings, writes Andrew Silow-Carroll, can be heard “on 1,017 scratchy wax cylinders that for a long time many feared were lost.” A new documentary, Song Searcher, explores the history of these recordings and the culture they helped to preserve.

Various klezmer musicians are seen in the film, playing the songs that Beregovsky collected. Many of the songs reflect the misery of the Jewish experience under the Soviets, the Nazis, and the Soviets again. Even a so-called “humorous” song—sung here by Psoy Korolenko, a puckish Yiddish singer from Russia—is a revenge fantasy about confronting Hitler after the war.

There are also rare color photographs of the slaughter at Babyn Yar, one of many moments when the pictures and stories of trapped civilians and desperate refugees blur with this morning’s headlines out of Ukraine.

But the history, like today’s headlines, is head-swirling as you try to keep track of the shifting occupations and the various degrees of villainy. The Soviets are celebrated as the liberators of Auschwitz, but almost immediately turn on the Jews. Their targets included Beregovsky, who by this time had founded or led a slew of important and perfectly legal academic institutions in Russia and Ukraine.

By 1949, such Jewish ethnic activities were considered “cosmopolitan” by the Soviets, and Beregovsky was shipped off to Siberia, where he joined other slave laborers in building a railroad. Already a grandfather, he found some solace in leading the prison camp’s choir, and the film includes snippets of letters he wrote home to his wife Sara in Kyiv, asking her to send—what else?—sheet music.

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Read more at JTA

More about: East European Jewry, Jewish music, Soviet Jewry, Ukrainian Jews

 

Iran’s Responsibility for West Bank Terror

On Friday, a Palestinian stabbed an Israeli police officer and was then shot by another officer after trying to grab his rifle. Commenting on the many similar instances of West Bank-based terror during the past several months, Amit Saar, a senior IDF intelligence officer, predicted that the violence will likely grow worse in the coming year. Yoni Ben Menachem explains the Islamic Republic’s role in fueling this wave of terrorism:

The escape of six terrorists from Gilboa prison in September 2021 was the catalyst for the establishment of new terrorist groups in the northern West Bank, according to senior Islamic Jihad officials. The initiative to establish new armed groups was undertaken by Palestinian Islamic Jihad in coordination with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, implementing the strategy of Qassem Suleimani—the commander of the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guards who was assassinated in Iraq by the U.S.—of using proxies to achieve the goals of expansion of the Iranian regime.

After arming Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza, Iran moved in the last year to support the new terrorist groups in the northern West Bank. Iran has been pouring money into the Islamic Jihad organization, which began to establish new armed groups under the name of “Battalions,” which also include terrorists from other organizations such as Fatah, Hamas, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. First, the “Jenin Battalion” was established in the city of Jenin, followed the “Nablus Battalion.”

Despite large-scale arrest operation by the IDF and the Shin Bet in the West Bank, Islamic Jihad continues to form new terrorist groups, including the “Tulkarem Battalion,” the “Tubas Battalion,” and the “Balata Battalion” in the Balata refugee camp.

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Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Palestinian terror, West Bank