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Yiddish Radio Project [Abridged, Audiobook, Unabridged] [Audio CD]

David Isay , Henry Sapoznik
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 28 2002
The Yiddish Radio Project is based on a series of stories featured on NPR's All Things Considered in the spring of 2002. The series highlights the golden age of Yiddish-American broadcasting in the 1930s to '50s. In its heyday Yiddish radio was heard from coast to coast, with a dozen stations in New York alone. All that survives from that incredible era are 500 hours of material preserved on 1,000 fragile discs--all of them rescued from storerooms and attics and even dumpsters, by one man, Henry Sapoznik, a musician and historian who has been on a fifteen-year mission to save every remnant from the "golden age" of Yiddish radio. This collection is an unprecedented intimate snapshot of American Jewish life during the '30s and '40s. The series features translations of the Yiddish language broadcasts by a cast that includes Eli Wallach, Carl Reiner, and Isaiah Sheffer.

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About the Author

DAVE ISAY is the founder of StoryCorps and the recipient of numerous broadcasting honors, including five Peabody Awards and a MacArthur “Genius” fellowship. He is the author/editor of four books including Listening Is an Act of Love, a New York Times bestseller.


HENRY SAPOZNIK is a Grammy-nominated record producer, composer, author, scholar and performer of traditional Yiddish and American music.

From AudioFile

A forgotten segment of the age of radio in America has been found by diligent searching in attics and basements. Enough of the collection has been restored to offer some of the stars of Yiddish radio programs to our ears again. Scott Simon of National Public Radio is the host of the two- hour disc, and some of the translations are read by Carl Reiner and Eli Wallach. For the listener who remembers the era from the 30s to the 50s, it is a nostalgic trip back. For the younger listener (younger than 50), it is a history lesson in the possibilities of com-munication in the America that was considered the melting pot of scores of diverse cultures. J.P. © AudioFile 2002, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great even without nostalgia Feb. 15 2004
Format:Audio CD
I enjoyed this thoroughly even though I didn't have any memories of Yiddish radio growing up.
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3.0 out of 5 stars disappointing Oct. 9 2003
By Jules
Format:Audio CD
Growing up in Brooklyn in the 1950's, my Father's radio was always tuned to WEVD (or WQXR). As such, I expected more of the lingua franca that the CD purports to contain. Enlish ditties sung by Jewish personalities is cute but not enthralling. I kept waiting to hear actual Yiddish and especially the voice of Zvi Scooler. I cannot imagine any collection of this sort not containing the voice of Zcooler. Maybe I expected too much.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A beautifully assembled history of a time long gone Sept. 10 2003
By rrobbi
Format:Audio CD
It's a shame that there's only one review of this double CD, and also a shame that it is described as an unabridged CD, as if it's a narration of a book. In fact, this was a radio presentation on public radio, narrated by Scott Simon, on the lost world of Yiddish radio, using old acetates (the flimsy records used to record the shows) recovered from dustbins by Henry Sapoznik, a social historian, who provides his own arch commentary. It is, as Sapoznik says, like listening to transmissions from another planet, because the recordings evoke an entire time period and culture of the 1930's and 1940's when a large audience of Yiddish speakers in New York listened to Yiddish radio. There is a wonderful pastiche of Yiddish advertisements, a hilarious history of Yiddish swing, and lots of dramas, advice columnists of the air, and other gems. It bears listening again and again, and you might find yourself entertaining passengers in your car with selections you like best. It gives you a warm, homey feel of being privy to the everday world of your grandparents, 60 or 70 years ago. I strongly recommend it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars a MUST for those of us who just missed it... Jan. 15 2003
Format:Audio CD
or those that lived and loved it live! Zol zein leben a hundret yorin, laugh along with your ancestors and bubbies, be rational serve Hebrew National, and I'm off to the supermarket to see if I can still find Brillo Kosher Soap "the Star of David is worked right through the soap, it never disappears"! btw this is TWO full cds worth, oy what a bargain...
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautifully assembled history of a time long gone Sept. 10 2003
By rrobbi - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
It's a shame that there's only one review of this double CD, and also a shame that it is described as an unabridged CD, as if it's a narration of a book. In fact, this was a radio presentation on public radio, narrated by Scott Simon, on the lost world of Yiddish radio, using old acetates (the flimsy records used to record the shows) recovered from dustbins by Henry Sapoznik, a social historian, who provides his own arch commentary. It is, as Sapoznik says, like listening to transmissions from another planet, because the recordings evoke an entire time period and culture of the 1930's and 1940's when a large audience of Yiddish speakers in New York listened to Yiddish radio. There is a wonderful pastiche of Yiddish advertisements, a hilarious history of Yiddish swing, and lots of dramas, advice columnists of the air, and other gems. It bears listening again and again, and you might find yourself entertaining passengers in your car with selections you like best. It gives you a warm, homey feel of being privy to the everday world of your grandparents, 60 or 70 years ago. I strongly recommend it.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Phenomenal Documentary of a Long Lost Era... Oct. 2 2005
By Eddie Landsberg - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Fortunately, if you've forgotten all the Yiddish you grew up hearing, or never grew up hearing Yiddish at all, you'll still be able to enjoy this INCREDIBLE radio documentary about the (virtually) lost world of Jewish/Yiddish radio (in NYC) and vanishing Yiddish-American culture in general. Enlisting top name actors (such as Eli Wallach, Carl Reiner, Jerry Stiller, Christopher Lloyd and others) for the first time you can hear the famous MO AND JOE Barton Brother's parody fully translated in all its blue galore... you meet a whole case of long gone, recently gone and a few still living charactors from one men ad agencies and program directors, Yiddish Swing singers, a RABBI who was the first JUDGE WAPNER long before JUDGE WAPNER, hear a radio broadcast in which a holocaust survival is reunited with his father in a THIS IS YOUR LIFE type broadcast, a Yiddish soap opera type radio drama fully re-enacted in English, and commercials for products anyone who grew up in a Jewish household will be quite familiar with (and shocked at the sales tactics... wow whoever knew that Matzah had more powers than a York Peppermint Patty !) - - The story is brilliantly told, through actually recordings, re-enactments in English, and narratives by those who lived it. - - I don't this this INCREDIBLE documentary won any awards, but it should have... It tells lot's of stories and is a peak into a world nostalgic for some, long forgotten by others... and for those who grew up in the "post assimilation era" or who aren't even Jewish, the documentary is an amazing look into the challenges of one ethnic culture balancing between its own identity and the influences of assimilating and incorporating the influences of a then new World for most Jews called America.

Great for repeated listening, so definitely worth getting ! ! ! This is NPR at its best !
20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a MUST for those of us who just missed it... Jan. 15 2003
By Alexshalom - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
or those that lived and loved it live! Zol zein leben a hundret yorin, laugh along with your ancestors and bubbies, be rational serve Hebrew National, and I'm off to the supermarket to see if I can still find Brillo Kosher Soap "the Star of David is worked right through the soap, it never disappears"! btw this is TWO full cds worth, oy what a bargain...
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars disappointing Oct. 9 2003
By Jules - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Growing up in Brooklyn in the 1950's, my Father's radio was always tuned to WEVD (or WQXR). As such, I expected more of the lingua franca that the CD purports to contain. Enlish ditties sung by Jewish personalities is cute but not enthralling. I kept waiting to hear actual Yiddish and especially the voice of Zvi Scooler. I cannot imagine any collection of this sort not containing the voice of Zcooler. Maybe I expected too much.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A loving glance at a vanished world March 13 2008
By Sarah - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Yiddish, the Germanic language of Eastern European Jews that was imported to the US during waves of Jewish immigration, was once a thriving language that fueled vaudeville, newspapers such as the Forverts, Yiddish comedians, radio dramas, and a rich literary tradition. Sadly, few speakers or vestiges of Yiddish's cultural beacon survive in the US. Numerous Yiddish words such as bagel, chutzpah, glitch, klutz, maven, and schlep have made their way into American vocabularies (for an excellent discussion on Yiddish and its influence, read Born to Kvetch: Yiddish Language and Culture in All of Its Moods (P.S.) by Michael Wex).

Originally broadcast on NPR, the Yiddish Radio Project was the brainchild of musician/historian Henry Sapoznik. He discovered few dozen acetate-coated aluminum discs at a rummage sale, then spent the next 17 years rescuing surviving discs. Some had been melted down for WWII scrap metal drives, others tossed or disintegrated, but the rare surviving copies opened the door to a long-lost glimpse of Jewish immigrant culture in the mid-twentieth century. We hear bilingual advertisements for Barbasol, Manischewitz, and Hebrew National Meats among others, Yiddish swing, and fascinating Yiddish radio dramas (the soundtrack is available as a standalone CD, Music from the Yiddish Radio Project, featuring highlights of commercials and swing melodies).

Narration is by Scott Simon, and translations are provided by Carl Reiner and Eli Wallach. The two-CD tribute includes segments on Yiddish commercials, radio dramas, and rabbinical radio courts, filled out by snippets of tantalizing products long gone, such as Brillo Kosher Soap: "the Star of David is worked right through the soap, it never disappears"! This is a treasure of those of you who grew up in a Yiddish-speaking household, or who might want to reconnect with the culture of our immigrant grandparents.
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