FolksbieneRU team, the Russian-Jewish division of the National Yiddish Theater Folksbiene, are aiming to change that with a host of events and parties that celebrate Jewish culture with an updated, modern twist.Jewish culture is inextricably linked to the historical fabric of New York City, and Eastern European Jewish immigrants in particular have had a significant impact on the New Yorker food, music, arts, and culture scene. Nonetheless, these aspects of New York culture can sometimes seem very divorced from the Mimosa-swinging, IPA-guzzling, Korean BBQ-munching, secret-concert-in-Bushwick-attending younger generation of New Yorkers. Anya Zicer and Lea Elisha, who make up the
With that in mind, the two got together to organize the Borscht Ball, taking place this Thursday. The Borscht Ball will be kicking off 2016’s Kulturfest NYC, a celebration of Jewish performing arts that’s currently in its second year. The Ball itself is a self-described “Klezmer Punk Pop soiree” celebrating modern Jewish and Jewish-inspired music, food, dance, and just an all-around good time.
For the uninitiated, Klezmer is “a Jewish Ashkenazi type of music, and essentially has all these cultures molded together,” Zicer explained. “This music is really, really fun.”
Headlining the evening’s music program will be the Russian band OPA!. “They’re coming in from St. Petersburg,” Zicer explained. “They’re these seven Russian guys who are just in love with Klezmer music.” Other notable acts include the Grammy-winning band The Klezmatics, Svetlana & The Eastern Brokhedz, and musician Daniel Kahn.
The Ball, an annual event which began last year and will be held at The Paper Box in Bushwick, will feature 35 performers spread across three or four different sets throughout the evening, and will feature, in addition to addictively danceable Balkan-inspired beats, some pretty good grub as well.
The Montreal-style Jewish deli Mile End will be in charge of the catering, which means all the classic Eastern European-Jewish delicacies will be available for hungry partygoers. “Of course there’s going to be borscht,” Zicer said. “We’re also going to have a vodka drink with beet-infused vodka juice, and they’re going to serve a bunch of Eastern European stuff like chopped liver, latkes, and smoked meat sandwiches.”
Zicer is experienced in throwing events that perfectly merge tradition with a modern twist. Back in April, she co-organized and hosted a “Alternative Passover” in Greenpoint, where a select number of guests, chosen via a lottery, attended an evening of immersive dinner and theater. Through FolksbieneRU, she and Elisha want to continue staging events that appeal to a younger demographic.
Zicer described the upcoming event as “very hipster-like. New York generally feeds off of this culture, this music, this sort of Jewish, Woody Allen-y character, and that is what is represented by this music and this gathering.”
Both FolksbieneRU and the National Yiddish Theater, which are now housed in the Museum of Jewish Heritage, are supported by the Genesis Philanthropy Group, a foundation that promotes and funds Jewish events and organizations.
Borscht Ball, at The Paper Box, 17 Meadow Street between Waterbury and Bogart, Brooklyn. June 16, starting at 7pm. $18 in advance, $25 at the door.