There's a Golem in the River
Last night, about two hundred klezmer fans and me jumped on a boat in the East River and set sail down to New York Harbor. There, between the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, the Old World came to life. Like the mythical golem which was brought to life with God’s name, Jdub Records’s newest band, Golem, used an impressive display of will and energy to make the old spirit return.
Aside from giving a raucously good show, this band captures the uniquely Jewish irony that I haven’t heard from other artists. While Klezmer music is often, simple, joyous and loud, its escapist fantasy is born out of pain and uncertainty. Even the happiest wedding freylekh is properly played with the broken glass still shattering in the dancers’ ears. The Yid knows that the marriage won’t be perfect, that there won’t be meat on the table every shabbos, that the children will scream and that the Cossaks can always come again. This pain and humanity stirs the Klezmerer to play even louder. Music like this can’t be played by anyone, since it comes from the kishkes – not the mind. Annette Ezekiel, the lead singer and accordionist, leads her band, stirring up all that pain, release and fear, and lets her audience dance and shout, even when there’s a war in Israel, and I don’t know how I will pay my rent.