Hi Everybody! Thanks for the very nice compliments regarding the blog. Here is this week’s installment. Hope you enjoy it.


On August 12, 1952 the campaign of Josef Stalin against the Jews of the Soviet Union reached a fever pitch when 24 of the leading Jewish writers, poets and other important cultural figures were executed in the basement of the dread Lubiyanka prison in Moscow.  It was only the death of Stalin shortly thereafter that saved the Jews from an even worse fate.

One of the 24 was Itzik Feffer, a writer of great distinction both in Russian and Yiddish.  So imagine my surprise when I was doing some old record shopping about 20 years ago (when you could still do old record shopping) and I came across a recording of Itzik Feffer himself! It is a recording of one of his short works entitled “A Wedding In Biro-Bidzhan” done in Yiddish.  Biro-Bidzhan was a remote area in Central Russia where Stalin in the 1930’s had set up an “autonomous Jewish region” where Yiddish was the language and Jewish culture,  but not religion, was encouraged. However, due to the severe climate and other factors it faded away by the 1960’s.  Well, I about jumped out of my skin when I saw it. I have played it every year at this time on the air. So how did it come to be recorded in the Soviet Union?

There was a recording company called Keynote Records. They produced Russian language recordings for distribution in the United States, especially during World War II when the Soviet Union was our “great Russian ally”. Of course, with advent of the Cold War, the recordings soon disappeared and the original 78 rpm discs, of which I have several, are today, extremely rare collectors items.

To hear Feffer’s voice knowing what happened to him is of course, very poignant. But even more so is the fact that he is billed on the recording as “Lt. Col. Itzik Feffer”. So even his very high rank in the Russian army did not help him when the wrath of the evil Stalin was let loose.

It is just an example of how many recordings that we feature on the program are really living Jewish history. May the memory of these 24 martyrs be for a blessing. Adoshem Yinkom Domom-May Hashem avenge their blood.



This week’s broadcast for Sunday August 14th is our program for the Shabbos Nachamu weekend with lots of great music for you to enjoy.  Included will be the great Safam song “Nachamu Ami”. The comedy corner will make its return with Country Yossi and the late comedy genius Allan Sherman (1924-1973).

We will also have two very nice selections for Ben as he celebrated his 21st birthday on August 9th. Even though it came out on Tisha B’Av he was very brave about it! I am honored to have him sit beside me and do the program every week. He really makes the show so much better.  Happy Birthday, Ben!!

On the Cantorial feature, two selections from the 1980’s by the Aleph Duo,  who were the well known Chazzanim Avi Albrecht, now at Beth Tfiloh in Baltimore and Avsholom Zfira, now in Boca Raton.  They sing the famous Rosenblatt composition “Veaf Hu Hoyo Mischavein” from Yom Kippur and “Havein Yakir Li Ephraim” from Rosh Hashana, composed by the great chazzan Samuel Malavsky.

Ben’s selections will include the Yeshiva Boys Choir, a great song by AKA Pella of “Chaveirim Kol Yisroel” sung to the tune of the theme song from “Friends”! Also selections by the Idan Rachel Project, Blue Fringe and Kobe Peretz, all very popular artists in Israel and of course “my boy” Yaakov Shwekey with a great version of “Boee V’Sholom”.

Matt’s song of the week is a lovely recording by the late Debbie Friedman (1952-2011) of her great song “Lechi Loch”.

All in all, a great show for the weekend of consolation. I hope everybody enjoys!! Well, that’s it for this week. Thanks again for your kind comments. Be sure to pass the information about the show and the website along to your friends and spread the word about Washington Jewish Radio!!!