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Aliza Amihude - vocals and tambourine. All photos by Keith Levit.

Gray Academy students

Jane Enkin and Richard Yaffee


By Rhonda Spivak, May 26, 2010

I don't know anything about music, nor do I know anything about Yiddish—which means I know doubly less about Yiddish music.

But I do like klezmer music which is why I enjoyed my introduction to Aliza and the KGB [Klezmer Gypsy Band], who opened the second concert of the Third Annual

Mameloshen Festival at the Muriel Richardson auditorium of the Winnipeg Art Gallery on Monday May 17th ( As an aside- The auditorium is a very nice choice of venue). The group, which was formed less than a year ago, consists of Aliza Amihude [vocals], Tim Butler [guitar], Ariel Posen [guitar], Eli Herscovitch [soprano, alto and tenor saxophones], and Daniel Koulack [bass, violin, and banjo], although there was a replacement for Koulack on the 17th.

The group gave an energetic, high-spirited repertoire of original klezmer gypsy tunes and jazz standards translated into Yiddish, which had the audience clapping and participating in the fun.

Amihude bobbed up and down dancing and playing the tambourine in a one of a kind funky skirt that appeared as if it was made by putting a series of men’s ties together. (The first thing my 11 year old daughter asked me was “Mommy, are those ties? Where did she get that skirt?). Amihude afterwards told me that her sister found the unusual skirt at a second hand store. “Every time I wear it, people ask where they can get one!,” she said. Amihude, a former Camp Massadnik agreed that her Men’s Tie Skirt would be very popular in Massad’s  ‘Cheder  Tilbashot’ (costume room).

In between trying to answer my daughter’s inquiries about Amihude’s skirt, I noted that the songs “Comes Love” and “Hora Staccato” were a couple of my personal favourites that Aliza and the KGB performed.

Amihude told me that her own personal favourite was “Comes Love,” because of the line, “If you get the flu, eat a bowl of chicken soup. Comes love, nothing can be done.”

At one point in the show, Amihude thanked her mother Ethel Amihude for translating some of the songs into Yiddish.

During the show, I also enjoyed watching and listening to the masterful Eli Herscovitch play klezmer music —it's as if the music flows through him out onto the stage. [As an aside, Herscovitch and I  happen to live on the same street with addresses that are similar, such that on occasion I get his mail.  After the show, when he was still out of breathe, I told him that not that long ago I had opened a letter before realizing it was addressed to him and it appeared to be financial in nature.  He replied, “Was it a cheque?”].

When I asked him if he was pleased with the way the concert turned out, he answered with a smile, “The audience performed very well I thought.”

Amihude told the Winnipeg Jewish Review during intermission that Aliza and the KGB was formed after she and Tim Butler “were noodle-ing one day.”  I asked what noodle-ing was, wondering if they had been making a lockshin kugel !  Aliza explained that noodle-ing is another word for ‘jamming,” which led me to wonder if they had been making preservatives. She further clarified that she and Butler had been on stage together “making stuff up” and that was what started them thinking about getting a group together. The others were eager to join in.

Butler was raised as a Catholic, but he said, “I’ve always loved klezmer music.” Amihude piped in, “We call Tim, Yossel.”

Of course, Herscovitch has been part of the Klezmer group Finjan with Kinsey Posen and Shayla Fink, Ariel Posen’s parents, so it’s nice to see that the “klezmer gene” in the Posen/Fink family has been passed down.

No doubt we’ll be hearing lots more from Aliza and the KGB in the future.

After their performance, the audience was treated to the  delightful performance of Grade three and four students of the Gray Academy under the skillful  direction of Miriam Bronstein.  The children sang Yiddish classics “Oyfn Pripetshok [with  Myron Schultz on clarinet], Der Fidler [Dan Schwartz, on violin], and Shirley Brown accompanied the children on piano.

The final headliner was Richard Yaffe and Jane Enkin, filled with Yiddish numbers that highlighted Yaffe’s sweet, rich baritone voice with Enkin’s jazzy stylings.  Both performers had lots of “stage presence.” It was clear that Yaffe, who has been a cantor, choral conductor and entertainer for over 30 years, enjoys performing with Enkin, and vice-versa.

The duo performed some slower poetic and liturgical numbers, and the one asking “When did we become old?” was one I particularly enjoyed. 

There were also some faster numbers that had klezmer, chassidic and jazz influences.

My personal favourites included “Oys ist good”  a song about a mother telling her daughter that love is good,  and  “Shpiel” a lively fun song that had a lot of  “oy, yoi, yoi’s” and showed off  Yaffe and Enkin’s talents.

The finale “Chiri Bim” was another crowd pleaser, and the audience showed their appreciation by clapping along.  There was also a song that used a classic Yiddish word “Nuchamol” which I rather liked although I have no idea of the proper name or meaning of the song.

The addition of guest singers Sharon Boonov Yanovsky, Dixie –Lee Chochinov, Karen Dana, Bev Mendelson and Carla Rubenfeld for parts of the show gave the performance a high-brow polished choral feel to it.

I must confess that I was not familiar with many of the tunes performed, but that didn’t prevent me from enjoying the show.

To see the complete gallery of photos taken by Keith Levit from the concert, please click on

[p.s. Editor’s note: One of the reason’s I know so little about music, let a lone Yiddish music is that I quit my piano lessons at age five several weeks after beginning them.  If I had only stayed with them a little longer, imagine the potential review I could write].

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.