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(1,283 words)

Author(s): Rubin, Joel E.
The  badkhn (Yiddish, plural  badkhonim or  badkhones; "jester," "entertainer"; from Aramaic bedaḥ, "be happy") is a professional or semiprofessional entertainer who appears at certain parties and festivities, particularly at weddings. The tradition of the  badkhn arose in the 16th century in Eastern Europe, where it also enjoyed its heyday in the 19th and early 20th centuries. From the 18th century, it spread to Palestine with the emigration of Jews from Russia, and the waves of emigration a century later also took it to North…
Date: 2023-10-24


(1,570 words)

Author(s): Rubin, Joel E.
The Hebrew word  niggun (pl.  niggunim) has a wide spectrum of meaning, including song, melody, production of sounds on an instrument, minstrelsy, and even cantillation marks. The term has entered Yiddish as  nign (pl.  nigunim), where it is less broadly formulated and means melody or song. In current usage  nign or  niggun usually refers to the religious melodies of the Hasidim. In Hasidism the singing of  nigunim is a religious act intended to lead to union with God (Yidd.  dveykus) and through which Hasidim express their social and religious affiliation. Since the foundatio…
Date: 2021-07-13


(4,478 words)

Author(s): Rubin, Joel E.
Although the musical genre of jazz emerged in the African-American milieu, its history is from the very beginning also marked by the contribution of Jewish musicians. Over the years, numerous convergences and fusions took place between jazz and Yiddish music. The Jewish affinity for jazz gave rise to the notion of “Jewish jazz” and became an object of scholarly study as part of “Black-Jewish relations.” 1. Jazz in the United StatesJazz emerged around the turn of the 20th century in the United States and became a fully developed musical genre by the First World War…
Date: 2020-05-12