Posted Ian Shulman
While the word ‘klezmer’ still bears a strong attribution to Jewish community life for most of the people, Klezmer festivals are emerging in new less dominant Jewish places each year, proving that this connection is not able to regulate the ongoing revival.
Apart from the States, Israel, Western Europe and ex-USSR capitals, where large Jewish communities are present and there is a natural demand for such events, there is the new trend of playing klezmer in cities with a great Jewish history but currently small communities, which were almost eradicated by the Holocaust and often also post-war communist rule. Krakow, Vienna, Warsaw and small towns in Poland or the Czech Republic have some specific historical meaning for Jewish people, which turns any Jewish-related event there into a commemoration, the new beginning or rising from the ashes.
The name of the German town Fürth prompts some associations as well, keeping in mind that it was one of the Jewish centers of the Franconia region as well as the birthplace of the Jewish American politician Henry Kissinger. Should one mention that the town shares borders with the city of Nuremberg, which name is overloaded with negative historical connotations?
The Fürth International Klezmer Festival was bearing the risk of becoming a sorrowful reminder of the past culture, buried under the ruins of World War II. Instead, some 6,700 visitors to the event witnessed a sparkling show, where klezmer came alive as probably never seen before. Apart from the smooth organization, festival director Claudia Floritz and project coordinator Anna Sankowski managed to gather a stunning blend of very diverse bands, almost turning the event into a world music festival. Nevertheless, the klezmer flavour was always there, be it a hardcore music by young Israeli band Ramzailech, Soviet-kitsch pop by Opa! or a wild mixture of klezmer, hip-hop and funk by supergroup Abraham Inc., not to mention the artists playing the more traditional folk tunes which were well-represented on stage, or the legendary The Klezmatics.
Putting it metaphorically, klezmer seems to travel around the world mixing itself with other genres, trying out different combinations and is now on the stage, showing all its variety, power and liveliness. Klezmer has also become international: throughout the whole festival there were no direct connections drawn between klezmer and Jewish culture; nor was the significant number of visitors Jewish. The interviews with the musicians such as RotFront-leader Yuriy Gurzhy with his Klezmer-disco, The Klezmatics, Ramzailech and Abraham Inc. are going to reveal even more about the past, present and future of klezmer, as well as something about the artists’ music, stories and much more. Stay tuned.
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April 9, 2012 | 1:42 pm
Posted Ian Shulman
It starts with just two musicians in black t-shirts and really hard electric riffs and beats. You might call it hardcore or hard rock, but the word ‘klezmer’ will probably be the last to come to your mind. Not until a pale neat guy with a clarinet suddenly appears on the stage, starts his tune - and perfectly fits into the party. You don’t know how to label it, but seems like labeling is not necessary anymore. There’s a hurricane, hardcore klezmer hurricane, with musicians jumping all over the stage and all over the audience, inside and outside of the building. As wild as hardcore can be, and if you think about it, as wild as klezmer can be. It’s funny how this band reflects the Jewish and Israeli society in its own way: there are wild guys influenced by hard stuff and Arabic music; there are seemingly quite guys playing klezmer and being into the tradition. They are, still, one culture, and only together, improving and harmonizing themselves, they can reach the edge of magic. Three faces of Ramzailech - Amit, Gal and Deckel - tell the secret of their success.
Ian: Let’s start with an obvious question: where does the name come from?
Amit: Hmm, would you like the short version or the long version?
Ian: The long one, of course.
Amit: You got it. Go ahead.
Gal: So in 1922 there was a rabbi called Abraham Ramzailech; he taught Torah. Those days were hard, there were pogroms and different regulations against Jews, so instead of Torah the rabbi taught klezmer nigunim. So we decided to commemorate his life and name our band after him.
Amit: OK, the short version now. When we just started playing, we needed to print the word ‘klezmer’ in Hebrew; and the printer got messed up, because Hebrew and printers don’t go that well together. So actually the word ‘Ramzailech’ is the word ‘klezmer; spelled backwards. And as we actually looked at it we thought it could be a word in Yiddish. So we thought it should become our name
Ian: So this rabbi actually existed?
Amit: No, we made up this story. It’s just our name. But when we first started playing, our audience were people in their sixties or seventies, and some of them spoke Yiddish.
Ian: Meaning you started with more traditional klezmer and not the stuff you’re playing now?
Amit: Yes, it took us some time to get there.
Ian: You mix a lot of different genres. A bit of klezmer, a bit of arabic, a bit of rock. How do you combine in?
Dekel: That’s our influences, that’s what we like. There’s no formula. If we like rock, let’s do it in rock. This guy (Gal) brought us some klezmer spirit. All other things are the stuff we were listening at the high school. We were studying in high school together, and it was just a natural evolution of our influences.
Ian: But still, even though they are different, they sound good together.
Amit: We tried to pick some nigunim in the beginning and it worked. Then we started to write nigunim, and we set it in rock, we set it in disco, we set it in hip-hop. It all worked.
Gal: The next step was lyrics in Yiddish, so we started to write in Yiddish. The thing we’ve done afterwards was setting up this entire show so that to bring our music to the world
Ian: I haven’t seen the show element yet; I’ve read a lot about it and hope to see it tonight, but still, what exactly the show is about?
Amit: Well, there’s nothing like dancers and cages there. We are just doing a big party with the music we are playing. It’s a very wild show, and it’s also very natural for us to do it. We play with wireless microphones, we can jump on the audience, we can do whatever we want on the stage, we try to make people feel as if they are at home.
Ian: A nice approach.
Amit: Exactly! It’s very nice to have a beautiful stage, but it makes a distance between the performer and the audience. Which is a good thing sometimes, but we would rather have a choice to jump around, have a good time and do whatever we want to do. This is very liberating and has a party-vibe. Although it’s somehow more natural to look down; that makes more sense. Playing together, like marching men is impressive and almost impossible to do today because of so much electronics and wires between the instruments. But we can do it!
Ian: So for how long are you playing already?
Amit: Six years.
Ian: You said you were starting with a whole different music and then you started to play what you play now. What are the plans for the future?
Gal: we just grew up. We were kids. With a fresh and new idea, but that was nothing more then an idea. To develop it you have to be more mature and finally bring your idea through all the step to the snow. In the future we gonna go more and more mature, so the show will be wilder and happier, ‘freylakhier’.
Dekel: We are here just six years. It’s a lot for a band, but it feels like we just started today.
Ian: I honestly wish you to feel the same in another six years from now. How does your music goes with klezmer; can you attribute yourself to the klezmer style?
Dekel: Of course. It’s just not traditional. We call it ‘hardcore klezmer’ because we feel this is what we’re doing. We never feel as we have to name our music for any reason, it just includes many different things. Things from backgrounds, cultures and stuff like that.
Ian: How does the story with klezmer music in Israel look like? Can you describe its development? Is it somehow different from the klezmer music in Europe or the States?
Gal: In Israel, klezmer is more associated with Orthodox Jews, all different celebrations, rabbis, holidays. Klezmer which we are speaking about, meaning Eastern European klezmer, almost disappears, almost vanishes in Israel. There are some groups, like for example, emigrants. who came from Russia during the 1990s, continue to play such kind of music. But this is not the music to become famous with; it’s rather a music for going to a party, wedding, bar mitzvah or this kind of stuff. There’s of course a revival, but unfortunately this revival is not directly connected to the klezmer roots; it’s rather a part of the Balkan revival, which goes worldwide. I think that today the Balkan period is almost gone, so we would like to bring some more klezmer to Israel, so that the people say: ‘we want some klezmer’.
Ian: Are there other bands in Israel which you would say are doing the same thing?
Gal: Sure, Oy Division is a good example. They are famous, if we are talking about secular people among us playing such music. There are also people playing very traditional things but bringing their own, unique show. We are three secular guys from Kvar Saba; we know how to do the traditional music and would like to bring in something new.
April 9, 2012 | 1:30 pm
Posted Ian Shulman
Frank London of The Klezmatics: ‘We can really live with the tradition. We don’t think it should be mummified’
Just like there’s rock and classic rock, there’s klezmer and classic klezmer. The Klezmatics are often being called ‘The Rolling Stones’ of klezmer, which is no wonder for one of the first and the most successful contemporary klezmer bands with two Grammys in their pocket. We expect the revelation from the concert, we expect the guru opinion from one of the band’s founders, Frank London. Frank told us about the future of klezmer, tricks of history, Jewish poems of Woody Guthrie, the story behind the ‘world music’ and many more.
Ian: Here, at this festival, there’s a huge variety of music, which all goes under the same name ‘klezmer’. For yourself, what klezmer actually is?
Frank: Basically, there are two definitions of klezmer: sort of technical and correct linguistic definition and a practical definition. The correct linguistic definition is that klezmer is an instrumental music, so basically anyone who sings is not klezmer. It is also the music which is written by ashkenazi Yiddish speaking Jews in Eastern Europe, which broadened out to other places, to the Americas and other places in the mid XIX century. But then of course we know that nowadays, just like jazz, rock and other genres, any time the genre is established, the name is used in many ways. It’s the case of klezmer as well, and hopefully they all have some relationships to klezmer, to that real meaning of the word klezmer, but probably this relationship is different for each one. So similarly, klezmer get used to talk about as the music of the same people, Yiddish speaking Jews, so Yiddish songs are called klezmer. So that what klezmer is: certain rhythm, certain style, certain ornament.
- As far as I know, the main thing about the Klezmatics is that the band managed to turn the klezmer music into something more contemporary, more acceptable. It managed to add the tunes from other genres, according to my impression at least. Do I perceive it correctly?
- We don’t think of this this way. If you look at any music you can see that it grows and changes. Just be careful not to put anything into a little box. Because we are not the first band in Jewish/Yiddish music with mixing influences, we’re not the last, and it’s not like we only do that. You have to understand: the audio recording started around the 1890s. Commercial recording started in around 1905. Some of the first recording of klezmer music in New York City in 1911-1912 was a disk with two sides and two songs. One of them was called ‘The Yiddishe Charleston’. What i say is that from the very beginning you had a strictly East European klezmer and a fusion klezmer. Immediately, from the very beginning.
- As for Klezmatics, one of my favourite albums is the one with the songs of Woody Guthrie. I was wondering how did the idea appear?
- That’s a great question, the one when you can never think of it. So much about our careers and our lives are just about giving act into some history, and it’s kind of amazing. So what happened was that we met Woody Guthrie’s daughter, Nora, and she told us about these amazing stories about her father Woody Guthrie. His mother in law was famous Yiddish poet Aliza Greenblatt. So Woodie Guthrie was living with his Yiddish mother in law and he wrote these Jewish songs. His daughter said: ‘We don’t know which music he was using, so we would like to write these songs on his words’. So it’s not as if we thought of it; it happened, and we did what we did.
- But do you see any connection between your music and Woody Guthrie music or country music in general?
- Well, that’s funny, because if you listen to the two recordings we’ve made as well as the third part we haven’t recorded yet, ‘Wonderwheel’ and ‘Happy Joyous Hanukkah’, you hear a very big spread of style of music, more than on any other records, and that’s because we didn’t decide anyone’s strategy, like ‘we gonna write Jewish music’, ‘we gonna write country music’. We just looked at the words and wrote songs. Some songs have some kind of influences, some other. And that what’s great about this project - the diversity of it.
- You just mentioned the third part of the this album series; can you tell a bit about that?
- It’s just that we have more songs than those on two CDs; we have a third set of songs which we haven’t recorded yet. We feel like we shouldn’t waste stuff which we have there. I think that the band is anxious to move to the new Yiddish material, but I feel like we have it and we shouldn’t let it go away.
- Is it also mainly unrecorded material?
- Yes, and what interesting is that Hanukkah record contains all Hanukkah songs, and Wonderwheel is about certain more adult songs, there are also a lot of kid songs, a lot of funny kid songs on there.
- If drawing some connection between klezmer and jazz, or rock music, we can say that jazz originated as a music of a certain cultural group. Do you think that klezmer, just like jazz, can also become a very widespread music which everyone enjoys and not like it’s now, when klezmer is mainly known among people who have a certain connection to Jewish people and is perceived exclusively as Jewish-related music.
- Well, it is a Jewish-related music. The difference is between where does music comes from and who either enjoys listening to it or playing it. When a music comes from a community, then it has a certain function and role in this community. You can’t say klezmer has a certain function and role for Jews, because if you go to a rocky Jewish community, klezmer means nothing to them. It’s not about Jews, it’s about a certain subgroup, if not a subgroup of a subgroup of the Jewish people. That’s the functional thing, but it has nothing to do with who’s interested in hearing it or who is interested in playing it. Just like you said jazz is not precisely African-American music. So your question ‘how big will klezmer get’ - it’s already got to something. It’s interesting in the way how in the last 25-30 years klezmer has an effect on the world music scene.
- How would you explain that?
- ‘Cause it’s great. They all actually are.
- But why didn’t it happen before for some reason?
- Well, there wasn’t a world music scene before that. The world music as a genre was invented in 1986 more or less. There was a bunch of people in the music industry in London. I met one of them and he told me about their meeting in a pub and their discussion on how they are going to market this burgeoning interest in a different music from allover the world, which is both popular and folkloric. They were choosing which term to use, and they were talking about ‘global beat’, ‘world beat’ etc. Finally they decided at that meeting to call it ‘world music’. There was a certain group of people at a certain time and a certain place. Then they started world music festivals. At that time there were record stores, which had signs like ‘pop’, ‘rock’, ‘jazz’, ‘classical’ and ‘world music’. The goal was to have a sign there, so that to have a section so that people could come and see it. The simultaneous resurgence of klezmer music, with the Klezmatics being formed in 1986 and the world music being started in 1986 is just a trick of history. Our career is just parallel to the rising of the world music. That’s maybe why we had an effect, and klezmer music had an effect on world music. The klezmatics was formed right at the same time and had the right to be seen as the part of world music. We had some authenticity; they say ‘Oh, they are Jews, they are from New York!’. Of course, we are not all Jews, and whether or not we are authentic is another story. They also say: ‘they are playing traditional music, world music, we didn’t hear it before, they are playing with contemporary edges, they would fit nicely into our world music festival’. And what happens at the world music festival is that everyone goes and hears everyone’s concerts. So all of the sudden pignic groups, caribbean groups, aboriginal groups are looking at klezmer bands and we all are affecting each others music. My personal opinion is there’s the way a lot of American klezmer musician are getting attracted to the people all over the world, and it’s not unique for Americans. It’s a dual respect for the tradition. We really love our tradition; and we go, investigate, really trying to know it good. But on the other hand, we can be free with it, add to it; we can really live with the tradition, we don’t think it should be mummified and kept in the museum. That kind of the relationship and the process of how you do it is literally the process of learning world music, and replicating it is the process which has been done to all the world music.
March 26, 2012 | 2:55 am
Posted Przemysław Dudek
Every now and then I am really happy that my opinions and decisions are not influential. The pressure on the leaders of nations, heads of the armies and other significant individuals must be overwhelming in many cases. The matters of peace and war seem to be, from my point of view, the hardest ones to analyze. The decision is not a theoretical question in an academic debate but a choice that will end in survival or death of real people.
The recent days have shown that the narration for the need for bombing Iran is not the only one in the Israeli society. The photos of Israelis declaring love towards Iranians and promising NEVER to bomb their country went viral in the social media and were responded by mutual feelings and declarations among some Iranians. Peace is good, war is evil. The ones who declare war are unjust; the justice is always for the peace. If only this could be so simple.
The history of the Jewish people shows that violence is not always unjust, in many cases it is necessary for the higher cause in order to save the lives of families or not to perish as a nation. We celebrate Purim not because Ester convinced Haman to change his plans but because the enemies were killed before they managed to kill the Jews. World War II has shown how people, not demons, can bring horror to the face of earth and the Nazi concentration camps were not liberated by pacifists. Israeli War of Independence was not a conference for global peace and understanding but a violent way to save the newborn country from annihilation.
In my eyes, eyes of a person living in the diaspora, who has never experienced war and lives in a bubble of multicultural circle of friends, war can just be theory. Peace is always. I can only imagine what it feels like to be woken up in Be’er Sheva by the sound of sirens or serve in the army in the Golan Heights. I wish all my Israeli friends could say the same thing, but we do not live in a perfect world. It would be very easy for me to cheer for the “We will never bomb you” slogan while having a cappuccino and updating my status on FB and a part of me really appreciates the good will of the people on the both sides of the conflict but how can one say that peace is justice when Iran will get a nuclear bomb? How can one actually believe that Israel will NEVER bomb Iran when the spiritual leaders of that country tell to: “Kill all the Jews and annihilate Israel”?
In Babylonian Talmud, one of the sources of Jewish sense of Justice, we can read: “if someone comes to kill you, get up early to kill him first.” And I do not feel like having any other option than to say that sometimes justice is war.
March 25, 2012 | 3:21 pm
Posted Estera Schreibman Poland
Justice. Studying law I found out two things: justice is all in all just a way to remove tensions in community and other - there is no a hundred per cent way to be objective cause a human is just a human. And we all make mistakes. But we as a humankind managed to create rules called law. This useful tool among others is being used when one is harmed by other. Victim has a right to seek justice.
And here enter: culture, tradition, religion and heritage. How can we seek justice? What actions allow us to use force or power? Where defendant can be oppressor? And when people are even? Answers for those questions are in my opinion in all mentioned above.
To be honest I never made an effort in studying in details what Judaism says about justice. I strongly believe my grandmothers passed it to their children. And the message when I think about it is pretty much clear – respect life, never forget injustice or harm in any way and do not rest until enemy is not down.Well, I am granddaughter of Holocaust survivors. My grandmother say: G’d is to forgive, we are to remember.I carry pacifism in my heart but I am very aware of fact that this is not a solution. With pacifism in heart there would be no Jews in Europe after Holocaust and there would not be Eretz Israel.And we cannot forget that. We need to fight for justice and fight with injustice which among many, many names has one called anti-Semitism.
Jewish people never remain silent when it comes to human rights. Silence is what we got during Second World War. Of course none of Holocaust victims can seek justice now. But this is another thing about Jews – collective responsibility and memory. I will never forget what happened to my family but I am not going to seek revenge till the seventh generation. No, that was others idea – communists in Soviet Russia, who decided to throw away Jewish people from Poland in 1968 just because Israel won Sixth Day War. We found other way – we are regaining our strength and focus on building ourselves. And on top of that I dare to think that all injuries we suffered through thousand years made us more sensitive about others – about life, about human rights.
But back to the removing tensions. I am still shocked after killings in France last week. My mind goes around this all the time.
So how can we remove tensions – meaning find justice – after what happened in there? (We can also apply this to Holocaust and many other matters). There are four Jewish people dead - just because they were Jewish. Among them there are little children. Killer is also dead. How can we seek justice now?
I blame his parents, his friends for what happened. I blame people who where whispering into his ear fanatic words. For me they are all responsible as well. I have many Muslim friends and I blame them to – why you always keep saying my dear friends – he was just another bad person. No matter whether he was Jewish or Muslim, he was another evil man.
I want justice. Maybe I am too radical at the moment – but I am just another emotional Jew who is tired to read in headlines like that– and try to understand me I am against victimizing, siege mentality and I have true friends among Muslims. But this time I feel I am very bitter.
I want all people who let and made this 23-year old terrorist do what he did punished. I also want a Muslim world to stop accepting that kind of behavior. Accepting silently.
There are no representatives like European Court of Human Rights in Arab League who would raise to life some commission who would prosecute terrorist organizations who fed up this killer-boy with madness. Another truth about justice is coming to us now – no way to be objective and no way of being even. I do not even know what would be sufficient now.
March 25, 2012 | 3:10 pm
Posted Ian Shulman
If you are curious to get a glimpse of a true Medieval xenophobic rage, you are kindly invited to google ‘Russia elections Jews’ (in Russian, of course). Hundreds of blog posts, YouTube videos, forum discussions and more are willing to disclose the ‘true’ background of the recent presidential and parliamentary elections in Russia. The credibility of the story is rather doubtful: the Jews are back once again to destroy the peace and stability of the country by preventing Vladimir Putin from becoming the president for the third time. Together with vicious democrats and liberals from the EU of the USA Jews are threatening the prosperity of Russia by infusing their false values and putting the Russians on the knees. No alarms: this is not an officially stated opinion of the government and not even an opinion of the majority. However, there is an existing substantial group of Russian society strongly believing in the Jewish conspiracy.
This is not unusual at all, and not only because such trends were arising in Russia regularly for different political occasions. The fact is that many famous personalities of Jewish origin were involved in attempts of providing fair elections, equal chances for all the candidates and all other actions in favour of justice. Oppositioner Boris Nemtsov is marching with thousands of protesters through the streets and squares of Moscow demanding the cancellation of elections’ results; actors, authors and showmen are recording boycotting video-messages, twittering, facebooking, blogging to transfer the message. Finally, legendary oligarch Boris Berezovsky is supporting the initiative from his today’s home in London, almost like Emmanuel Goldstein from Orwell’s ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’.
The situation hardly sounds surprising. Jewish people were almost on the side of change in Russia; needless to recall Leon Trotsky and his partners Kamenev and Zinovyev as well as some Jewish roots of Vladimir Lenin. Jewish people inherited a unique legislation system, but unfortunately had a very short time to use it on their own land. Another distinguished trait of Jewish people is their incredible and unexplainable, almost masochistic love to the lands they are inhabiting. It seemed to be an insider’s mission: quietly fighting for the liberation and prosperity of this hostile, foreign, but still as dear country. Obviously, this mission is far from being accomplished.
March 25, 2012 | 2:24 pm
Posted Monika Opalińska Poland
Being a girl with the Jewish origins, Chaje knew what it meant to work hard since she was a child. Born on 25.12.1870 in Kraków, she was the eldest child of Gitel and Herzl Rubinstein. She came from an orthodox Jewish family that at the time was living at Szeroka 14 street at Krakow’s Kazimierz. When she was still just a child, she decided to provide proper living conditions and financial help for her family. (A. Kutylak “Krakowianie: wybitni Żydzi krakowscy XIV-XX wiek.”, Kraków 2006)
In the evenings, without being seen, she slipped out of home to the nearest market, to observe the city which was teeming with live, and listen to men’s conversations about trading and politics.
Chaje knew exactly, what she wanted from life, and she would not allow anybody to decide about her fortune. That’s why she opposed to her father, refusing to marry a wealthy widower chosen for her by a matchmaker. She could not imagine, that she would be with someone without loving him. That was the reason, why she was forced to leave her home and move to her aunt – Rozalia Silberfeld–Beckmann. (www.gazetakrakowska.pl)
After a year she went to Australia, where she spent two years in a Corelaine town living with her uncle who was a shepherd. At the beginning her every day was filled with unsatisfying hard work, bringing nothing more but necessary profit. Forced to live in modest conditions, she was strengthening her will to find what luxury means. Being a waitress in a place, where groups of artists were meeting she wanted to become someone unique, who would be an object of admiration, amusement and a centre of interest.
Finding her new goal, she was determined enough to run her own business. The idea of it came from observing women that surrounded her, who were greatly interested in Helena’s flawless skin. She knew, that she owed it to the small and inconspicuous jar of skin cream, that her mother had put into her travel bag, before she left. Krakowian skin cream made by dr Lykulsky became an object of desire for local women. Later on Helena found out that bringing the specific back from Poland was not profitable, so she acquired a formula and started to produce the cream on-site, calling it “Valaze”. (L.Woodhead “Helena Rubinstein I Elizabeth Arden. Barwy wojenne.”, Warszawa 2004)
Helena knew exactly that her business was based on a rule of „inaccessibility”. That’s why she kept on affirming that the goods were still being imported from Krakow, and made by high ranked specialists, even if truly she was the one, who was taking care of the production. Moreover, she knew that she needed a powerful potency of advertising, and because of that all she wanted was to put some advertisements about her products and her beauty salon in a local press as often as it was possible. A great part in developing Helena’s business played Edward Titus, journalist with Polish origins, whom she married later. (www.luksusowe-zycie.bloog.pl)
Flattering article about the specimen and the producer written by Titus raised the interest level of the product, providing an effective advertisement. Using the different ways of autopromotion, easiness of making contacts and good intuition about marketing, Helena soon acquired a fair number of about 15 thousand orders. That forced herself to be completely devoted to the arduous process of production. During the night, she personally made the mixture, put it into jars and labeled them.
That extremely enterprising woman didn’t settle for beauty salons in Australia. Shortly she started to run new ones in world’s capital cities like Paris, London and New York. Rubbinstein always said that „there are no such a thing like ugly woman, there are only lazy ones”. In her speeches she ruthlessly crushed her competition, blaming them for low quality of products and attempts of copying her specimens. She employed many members of her family, what was the main reason why her company was called “Polish mafia” by her biggest rival – Elizabeth Arden. (www.gazetakrakowska.pl)
Next episodes of Madame /so called by Titus/ showed us, that her development is a succession of her hard work and trust in her own abilities. As a child, Chaje constantly dreamt about exclusive clothes brought from Paris, and great art pieces, so badly desired by her. In the following years those dreams turned into friendships with many prominent characters like Picasso, Matisse, Braque, Rouault or Derain. She acquired the art pieces of remarkable artists, knowing that one day they will be much more appreciated. Even Salvador Dali designed powder-boxes for her, obliging himself to paint her portrait.
After moving to London, Madame totally charmed the English aristocracy with her uniqueness. The success of the second Valaze salon was as spectacular as the first one. During the period of time she spent in England, her two sons were born – Roy (1908) and Horace (1912). She became even more self-confident and obstinate. “Valaze”, initially just a name of a skin cream, turned into a whole line of cosmetics. In 1912 Helena opened another institute of beauty in Paris. She created the first lipsticks and cassette powders, expanding her business onto new beauty treatments. Once more she earned a huge amount of admirers and achieved an amazing success. In 1915 another salon was opened in New York. It developed so fast, that it influenced the opening of new salons in Boston, Chicago and San Francisco. (L.Woodhead “Helena Rubinstein I Elizabeth Arden. Barwy wojenne.”, Warszawa 2004)
Helena’s strong character had let her outlast the parting with husband Edward Titus, his moving to the rival company onto the main manager position and his affiliation with company owner – Elizabeth Arden. Even though it was a hard period of time for Helena, she kept her mind sobriety and great marketing talent. In 1928, before the great financial recession, she had sold her American establishment stock for 8 million dollars, just to buy them back after the stock market breakdown with 6 million of profit, paying just a sum of 2 million dollars. Two years after her divorce, Madame got married once again – with a 15 year old younger Georgian prince Artchil Gourielli – Tchkonia. (www.kobieta.newsweek.pl)
Jean Cocteau once called Helena „the Empress of Beauty”. That amazing woman was managing her company until the end of her days. She kept on saying, that work makes people happy, because only at work they can find a real sense of life. Despite a lot of duties she had, she still found time for supporting artists’ communities and establishing many foundations. Fascination of art let her fill her residences with sophisticated art pieces from all over the world.
March 24, 2012 | 3:04 am
Posted Mendelssohn X
Originally posted on Jewdyssee
Let there be no doubt: The remarks of the official representative of the EU, Mrs.Ashton, comparing the Toulouse terror victims to Israeli operations in Gaza, were more than just ignorant, they also showed a terrible attitude towards the comlexity of the Jewish state. We all, European and Israeli Jews should stand united against such an obvious lack of information among Europe´s Elite. But this morning I have more wrath against a journalist of YNET News than against Ashton. How irrational. But unfortunately it is just as necessary.
The article called „The day Europe died“ basically reproduces the dogma that most Israelis seem to believe as it is deeply connected to the essence of Zionism. Europe is a museum, a vacation spot, but not a place for Jews to live anymore. And let me guess where the Jews should move to. So this journalist and those who support him expect the „diaspora Jew“ to behave just accoding to the Zionist prejudice against THE diaspora JEW. He should be fearful (because of the terror), grab his stuff and run away to Israel instead of staying and fighting. While in Israel even known leftwingers such as Hadag Nahash make tracks like „Rak Po“ (Only here) about how terror attacks can be scary but are never allowed to break one´s spirit, the lives and existences of European Jews is seen as a mere step towards packing the suitcase. Maybe the first step to be accepted in your own existence, is to accept other people´s right to exist? And here there is indeed a problem. A problem at the very core of modern Jewish identity. For me it is very important to have a good, no, AMAZING relationship with Israel. Not just because of relatives and friends, but also because I deeply believe that the creation of a Jewish state has been among my Top 3 events of the 20th century besides my parents meeting and the evolution of Germany as a tolerant and open society.
So while for me my relationship to Israel is unshakeable, Israelis seem to have a problem with ME. And yes, I do understand it. In order to live in the middle east among enemies in a harsh climate without many natural resources, you need to believe in it 150%. It only works in the first place when you perceive all diaspora life as an illusion. So my Zionist Alter Ego would say: There have always been times of tolerance in the diaspora, but in the end it will always end in a holocaust. This is the dogma. The vatican. It is the result of a history writing in myths rather than in facts. Because there was no secular Jewish history writing until the times after the French Revolution, the Zionists just took religious scripture and believed everything besides the word „God“. And then it really doesn´t matter anymore if one gets kicked out of Jerusalem by the Romans or if one gets kicked out of Ukraine by Chmielnicki after helping Polish landlords oppressing Ukranian farmers. Hannah Arendt was very right about this: one of the reasons why there are so many Antisemitic conspiracy theories is that the official Jewish history is completely idealized and taken from religion. It is a known fact that Jews played a major role in transatlantic slave trade, but if you find stuff about this only in publications of Neonazis and Islamists, you will end up always feeding them with unnecessary support. And you yourself start to believe like many Israelis that Jews were always nice and peaceful and never fought back until the Israeli evolved and started saying „I don´t wanna kill, but if I have to, I do“. As if the whole world history was some kind of Braveheart-Movie without Mel Gibson.
And don´t get me wrong, if such a brainfuck was necessary in order to create the Jewish state, it was all worthwile. But now it´s not the 19th century anymore. And I do understand that Israel needs to keep up its Jewish population, also through Aliyah. And if Orthodox Jews asked me where they should live, I would always tell them to live in Israel. Cheaper kosher food and you can always wear a Kipa in the streets. But I do hope that Israelis realize that gathering all Jews in one place is something only God and Hitler have talked about so far, and that modern globalized identity cannot always look out for everyone´s ideological dreams. My dream is that one day Israelis can be proud of WHO and WHERE they are and tolerate that there are other people in the world who call themselves also Jews and also don´t like if other people try to make decisions FOR them.