Last week a group of 150 people from all walks of life gathered in Toronto to perform a version of the Canadian national anthem … in Yiddish. It’s really something.
Apparently, the June 6 performance, perhaps the first of its kind, began as an idea that quickly swelled into a collective mission. Hindy Nosek-Abelson, a Toronto-based writer who translated “O Canada” from English to Yiddish, told The Daily Globe and Mail: “It started with a question about whether this had ever been done.” The idea, she said, passed through a “chain of people,” including author Margaret Atwood. Eventually, the idea got to Moses Znaimer, a Canadian media mogul, who provided the performance space in Toronto’s Liberty Village. Znaimer’s father and mother, of Polish and Latvian descent respectively, fled Nazi persecution and ended up in a Displaced Person’s Camp in Germany, before arriving in Canada. One of the day’s participants was 98-year-old Holocaust survivor Mary Schlanger, who, in the video below, seems delighted to be there. The chorus also included University of Toronto students, along with many other artists and local activists.
Canada is readying to celebrate its 150th anniversary.
Jonathan Zalman is a writer and teacher based in Brooklyn.