February 20, 2003
Kicking it Old World
Yiddish Web site based in Brazil streams music to worldwide listeners.
"Guib a click, dos is YidishMusic."
This sentence can be heard several times a day from Brazilian electronic engineer Carlos Daniel Kibrit, 46, founder and producer of the 24-hour Webcast called YidishMusic.
"Give a click, this is JewishMusic," translated Kibrit, who also is fluent in English.
YidishMusic began as a family initiative -- Kibrit was aided by his two sons, Ariel and Ilan -- that grew bigger and bigger as friends started to listen, like what they heard and spread the word. It has now become something of a fad among the Web users in Brazil's 120,000-member Jewish community -- even though it's solely funded by Kibrit and his family.
"YidishMusic is one of my most precious findings on the Internet. I listen to it while I am downloading my e-mails," said historian and visual artist Silvia Rezende of Sao Paulo.
However, 55 percent of the listeners come from outside Brazil, from some 50 countries including Azerbaijan, New Zealand, Iceland, Sweden and the United Kingdom, Kibrit said.
YidishMusic can be visited at www.yidishmusic.com.br, in English and Portuguese. Recently, it achieved the 10,000-hour mark on the air. Its digital music library has 4,000 titles, he added.
The YidishMusic Web radio station plays a broad range of Jewish music, including liturgical chanting, traditional and modern tunes and Jewish holiday songs. Most are in Yiddish, but some are in Hebrew, Ladino or Russian.
Some 40 percent of the station's files consist of Yiddish music and klezmer instrumental music by artists such as David Tarras, Molly Picon, Al Jolson and Avraham Fried.
"Our most recent acquisition was Yemenite traditional music, sung by Jewish communities in that country, with a very peculiar sound," Kibrit said.
Musician Mauro Perelmann of Rio de Janeiro is the founder and artistic director of Zemer, the only klezmer music band in Rio.
"The survival of a people is due, among other factors, to the keeping of its culture," Perelmann said. "Therefore, I find it great that there exists a Brazilian Internet radio that plays nothing but Jewish music."
YidishMusic's current programing includes music by a group known as Aufwind, which keeps Jewish musical culture alive in Germany by playing traditional songs with new arrangements.
"Dzigan and Shumacher" are two Yiddish humorists who broadcast 30-minute programs on Sundays. "Goldene Voices" plays recordings by senior choirs every day but Saturday.
"It's tremendously difficult to find Yiddish music, and it's usually from the 1960s. Very few artists seem interested in recording in Yiddish today," Kibrit laments, mentioning Israelis "Dudu" Fisher and Chava Alberstein as exceptions.
"My grandparents' language is dying," he said. "My hope is that YidishMusic can create this bridge between past and future. And I guess we're being successful."
Kibrit said he comes from "mixed" Jewish heritage -- Ashkenazi on his mother's side, Sephardi on his father's. Raised in a Jewish neighborhood of Sao Paulo, he attended the city's Sholem Aleichem school, where he learned Yiddish, but not Hebrew.
"Beside this, my grandmother lived with us for several years, and I would only hear Yiddish at home," he said. "The smell and the emotions of those times led me to create YidishMusic for my own pleasure."
For many listeners, the pleasure is nostalgic.
"I was surprised to find songs I could never imagine I would, like the ones my grandfather and father sang to me when I was a child," historian Esther Kuperman said. "I couldn't help crying then." Â