Mark’s Remarks: Dos Yidishe Kol (The Yiddish Voice)
Hankus Netsky said, “Where else but in Waltham would you find a synagogue that, in 2015, holds an evening event so people could get together and listen to the radio?”
“The radio” was really a live stream of Dos Yidishe Kol (The Yiddish Voice), a Yiddish language radio show serving Boston’s Yiddish-speaking community. Jim Baron suggested the gathering, and 16 of us met on February 26 to listen to this episode in memory of Morris Hollender z”l. As we listed to the broadcast, Hankus Netsky provided us with live translation of the Yiddish and some of his own stories and memories of Mr. Hollender.
The host of the program, Mark David, interviewed Hankus (in Yiddish!) about Morris’s music. the night before the broadcast. The show notes say that the broadcast was “In memory of the late Mr. Moyshe (Morris) Hollender, who recently passed away. Hollender was a survivor of death camps in World War II. In his later years he served as Gabbai, Torah reader, and Ba’al Tefillah at Temple Beth Israel in Waltham, MA. For many years he was a treasured resource for collectors of old songs, poems, and melodies from Jewish life that might otherwise have been forgotten. He was a frequent contributor to the ‘Yiddish Voice’ radio show. The program features several recordings of Hollender singing and recounting the past. Also with the participants of special guests Hankus Netsky, Dovid Mermelstein, and Marti Leibovits Friedman.”
For those of us who knew him when he was in good health, it was comforting to hear the lively Moyshe Hollender we remember, telling stories, singing songs, and chanting from the Torah. “This melody it would just come into my mind…” he would say, and then he would start singing. The broadcast featured Mr. Hollender singing Haneiros Halallu for Chanukah, a Purim Kiddush and other Purim songs, his sister Serena’s Purim Shpiel, and Shacharit for Rosh Hashanah. Hankus told Rabbi Finkelstein “This is what Rosh Hashanah used to be like here. I can’t believe he’s going to play the whole thing. This piece (Ha-Melech through the beginning of Shochein Ad) is about 10 minutes long.” Morris used to sing the cantor’s part and the choir’s part, which was intended to give the cantor a break.
Throughout the broadcast, Moyshe Hollender spoke in Yiddish about his childhood, and how he survived the Ebensee concentration camp, and then he sang the Eil Malei Rachamim. The melody he used for Eil Malei Rachamim for the Six Million, he explained, came from Cantor Shalom Katz, who was kept alive at a concentration camp so that he could sing the memorial prayer for the officers while the prisoners were digging their graves before an execution would take place. The next day, Katz was allowed to escape, spared a brutal death.
At the end of the broadcast, Hankus remarked, through the hundreds of recordings he left us, we keep the memory of Morris Hollender alive. Although he died, his music will live on for years as people hear its unique qualities and keep singing these melodies.
You can listen to The Yiddish Voice on Thursday nights from 7:30 to 8:30 pm on the radio, WUNR 1600 AM, or its live stream online at yiddishvoice.com, or as a podcast on iTunes (search for Yiddish Voice). We have posted this episode, along with many of Mr. Hollender’s recordings, on the TBI website, tbiwaltham.org, click About, then click Morris Hollender.
Please join us at Temple Beth Israel on Sunday, March 29 at 2 pm for a concert featuring the music of Morris Hollender z”l, as performed by Hankus Netsky along with Henry Carrey, Jessica Kate Meyer, Miryem-Khaye Siegel, and the New England Conservatory Jewish music ensemble.