5774 has been a year of challenges and beauty. There are all the “first world problems”, the very real personal trials and tribulations, and then there’s…our world. The politics and the planet.
Shtetl’s job has been to bring you a glimmer of this world through the lens of Jewish arts and culture. One year ago we were in Berlin speaking with Ukrainian DJs, Israeli sex workers and performance artists, musicians and hip-hop cantors. All living in an uber trendy European capital city with an incredible and troubling history. We learned about how diversity has thrived in that city even though it has often been seriously threatened. Listen to Gypsy, Jewish & Gay and to Next Year in Berlin to catch the Berlin vibe and get an idea about how Jewish outsiders and artists shape the city.
Shtetl also made sure that in 5774 no soul listening to our radio show or podcast would be deprived of the inside scoop on the Jewish music scene. Whether that was the trash-pop of Tunisian/Israeli Riff Cohen, the beautiful Jewish-Muslim collaboration of Epichorus ft. Somali singer Alsarah and Rabbi Zach Fredman. From new Yiddish tunes by the amazing Daniel Kahn & the Painted Bird, to the Arabic booty-shaking tunes of Iraqi pop singer Dudu Tassa. We played you new music from Canadian bands like AroarA, Ben Caplan and the Casual Smokers, and Snowblink, and we are always ready to ease you through the show with older classics and eclectic weird tracks from all over the world. Have you heard the sitar version of the Kol Nidre? If you listen to Shtetl then you have! Check out some of our music specials and groove to tunes you won’t hear anywhere else. (Give a listen to Music Show to Melt the Snow or Chillin’ With Serge).
We also recorded a few special episodes in Israel and in the West Bank. These shows aired as the war between Israel and Gaza made the region and the people there obsessive subjects of our conversations, our social media, our prayers, and sadly, even our nightmares. The 1st show we aired was about the plight of African Asylum seekers in Israel through the story of Barik, one young man who made the incredible journey from Darfur to South Tel Aviv. We also shared the difficulty and dedication of young musicians who live together in Jaffa and formed a band called System Ali where they rap in Hebrew, Arabic, Russian and English about what home means for them living in such a conflictual yet culturally rich space that they are all forced to share. We brought you the voices of a Palestinian and a Jewish Settler in the West Bank who are working together- even after the kidnappings and killings of the summer- to live in peace as neighbours. And as the conversations between friends, family and in the media became increasingly vicious and hopeless, we brought you the Lovers in a Dangerous Time episode sharing the story of a Jewish deli owner in Toronto who supported a Palestinian film fest, and a Palestinian woman who started the Facebook group Palestine Loves Israel.
We had our first media panel this year! And, we highlighted stories about artists on the margins doing cool, quirky and inspiring work. We talked with a Crimean-Jewish Montrealer, and with a gay Jewish journalist who caused a stir by going onto Moscow State TV with his rainbow suspenders.
We hope that we were able to infuse a bit of Jewish culture with humour, edge, thoughtfulness and style into your homes, cars and iPods. And we’re going to do everything we can to grow and change in 5775 so we can bring you more great content.
With the big Day of Atonement around the corner, we ask your forgiveness for any shortcomings (ahem… moments of dead air or bad editorial decisions) and sincerely hope that you will be in touch and let us know where we have succeeded, but also where we might have missed the mark.
May you all, listeners and readers, contributors, producers and free advice-givers have a year full of ART!!! love, peace, courageous creativity, intense Talmudic encounters?! And may you fall a little more in love with the world of Jewish art- most especially with Jewish artists who are working so hard to challenge us with new ideas, inspire us with intercultural, multi-faith collaborations, and warm us up with their wicked sense of the divine. Oh yeah, and may all Shtetl fans make lots of money and have lots of sex in 5775. But that goes without saying, right?
Sending you all love, respect and gratitude for making Shtetl your home for alternative Jewish arts and culture. Follow us on Facebook to keep up with what’s happening and to comment on it while it happens.
HERE’S TO A SWEET-ASS NEW YEAR!
(Your humble radio host and producer).
A special Shtetl MERCI BEAUCOUP to Lainie Basman (producer and Shtetl on the Shortwave soul mate), Poland-based graphic designer Magda Koralewska (for making Shtetl look so hot), CKUT Radio 90.3 FM in Montreal (for broadcasting and supporting Shtetl right from the get go), and to The Jewish Community Foundation of Montreal (for their continued belief and support of this project) and to Krista Muir (for creating Shtetl’s catchy and funny new theme song).