Who sings in Yiddish today and why?

Adah Hetko of the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Massachusetts, on the development of Yiddish identity among today’s Yiddish women vocalists

B’nai Sholom Reform Congregation continues its “Synagogue Scholars” series with a talk by Adah Hetko of the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Massachusetts, on the development of Yiddish identity among today’s Yiddish women vocalists.

Hetko will present her talk, “Dos Lebn iz a Lidl: Contemporary Yiddish Women Singers and their Development of Yiddish Identity,” immediately following the congregation’s Friday, May 10, Shabbat service. The service and program, open to all who wish to worship and learn, begin at 8 p.m.

B’nai Sholom is at 420 Whitehall Road in Albany.

Who sings in Yiddish today and why? How do these singers learn Yiddish songs? How does singing in Yiddish change their lives? In a multimedia presentation, Hetko will draw from 14 in-depth interviews she conducted in 2016 and 2017 with leading Yiddish women singers to examine how language, mentorship, and community shape what it means to become a Yiddish singer today.

A resident of Boght Corners, Hetko is a fellow at the Yiddish Book Center, where she assists the Yiddish Language Institute and develops content for upcoming exhibits. Hetko received her master of arts degree in Jewish studies from Indiana University in 2018.

She owes her research interest and love for Yiddish song to her years as a participant at klezmer festivals and to her Yiddish language professors. Hetko performs regularly in the Pioneer Valley of western Massachusetts as a vocalist and guitarist with the klezmer and Balkan music band Burikes (“Beets”).

Begun in 2004, B’nai Sholom’s “Synagogue Scholars” series spotlights individuals in the Capital Region Jewish community who are recognized scholars in their fields.
For more information about the “Synagogue Scholars” series, visit www.bnaisholomalbany.org or contact the B’nai Sholom office: or 518-482-5283.

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