Japanese Artist and Academic to be in the 2015 KulturfestNYC

Japanese Artist and Academic in KulturfestNYC: A First of Its Kind Festival of Jewish Performing Arts, New York City, June 14 – 21, 2015

  • June 14, 2015 at 7:30 PM
    Grand opening concert starring The Klezmatics, Neil Sedaka and global stars appearing in KulturfestNYC
    The Winter Garden at Brookfield Place
    200 Vesey St, New York, NY
  • June 15, 2015 at 9:00 PM
    Joe’s Pub at The Public Theater
    425 Lafayette St, New York, NY
  • June 16, 2015 at 1:15 PM
    Symposium in Yiddish Performing Arts, Media, Language and Literature
    At The Museum of Jewish Heritage
    36 Battery Pl, New York, NY
    **Hosted by the Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at NYU

Haruyuki Kuroda, professor of Germanic Languages at Matsuyama University, Japan will offer a presentation about the Japanese affinity for Yiddish language, culture and klezmer music.  His talk will be illustrated by a mini-concert by the Japanese klezmer group Jinta-la-Mvta which is scheduled to perform in the festival on the evening of June 15th at Joe’s Pub.  

Zalmen Mlotek, Artistic Director of The National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene met Professor Kuroda after his mother, Chana Mlotek, the fabled music archivist of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research helped the Professor research the origins of Yiddish songs which became popular in Japan.  Professor Kuroda hosted Mr. Mlotek on tour of 5 Japanese Universities in 2014.  The tour included a visit to the synagogue in Kobe where his father sought refuge during World War II as he made his escape from Poland via Kobe to Shanghai.  While Mr. Mlotek was presenting a performance lecture about songs of spiritual resistance during the Holocaust, he was approached by a young Japanese clarinetist and they began an impromptu Klezmer duet.  The young man was Wataru Okuma from the Japanese klezmer group Jinta-la-Mvta.

Jinta-la-Mvta is a musical group founded in 2004 by Ohkuma Wataru, clarinetist and bandleader of the groundbreaking Japanese experimental folk band Cicala Mvta and his partner and drummer Kogure Miwazo. 

Ohkuma’s interest in Klezmer music began in the late 80s. He was one of the first Japanese artists who listened to and played the genre. He has a repertoire of dozens of Klezmer tunes through his distinct perspective, setting him apart among non-Jewish klezmer musicians. Considered as one of the few Klezmer experts in Japan, he has also penned various pieces on Klezmer and Japanese liner notes of Klezmatics and Frank London. 

Haruyuki Kuroda is Professor of German Language at Matsuyama University (Japan), and teaches courses in German language and culture. He is the author of “A Cultural History of Klezmer Music” (2011) and co-translator of Hans Henny Jahnn’s trilogy “River without Banks” (2014), Sven Hanuschek’s “Elias Canetti, a Biography” (2013) and Leo Rosten’s “The New Joys of Yiddish” (2013). Klezmer lecture-concerts he organized in Japan featured Zalmen Mlotek (2013) and Elizabeth Schwartz and Yale Strom (2010).

For more information please visit www.KulturfestNYC.org

Press Release: Asian Americans Advancing Justice Demands Racial Bias Investigation

June 4, 2015

Mariam Hosseini, Advancing Justice – ALC
[email protected]

In response to the recent case of Sherry Chen, a federal employee who was arrested on suspicion of espionage for China before all charges were suddenly dismissed, Asian Americans Advancing Justice (Advancing Justice) issues the following statement:

As a leading national civil rights voice rooted in Asian American communities, we demand an investigation into whether race and national origin played a role in the shameful indictment of Sherry Chen, a dedicated scientist with the National Weather Service. Because Ms. Chen’s case is not unique or isolated, we further call upon the Administration to examine systemic racial bias against Asian Americans in all federal agencies, particularly those with jobs requiring security clearances.

Ms. Chen is only the most recent victim of over-zealous federal investigators and prosecutors who view with suspicion any ties with family and friends in other countries, particularly China. Clearly, the system has perverse incentives, rewarding law enforcement officials for high-profile prosecutions that fit the narrative of the foreign threat as opposed to rewarding them for a fair and careful consideration of the facts.

Ironically, Asians immigrate to the U.S. because our country claims to offer freedom, a fair process and protections for all, regardless of race and class.  We know that this promise has not held true for communities of color, for example, for African Americans in the criminal justice system.  Neither is the system working for well-educated Chinese Americans who may have assumed that their privileged economic status would protect them against racial bias.

As Sherry Chen’s case, as well as past cases such as the unjust prosecution of fellow federal scientist Wen Ho Lee indicate, the national security system is set up to feed biases and suspicion of “foreigners”.  In the recent past, we have been contacted by other Asian Americans who have faced questions because of visits to their countries of origin, participation in ethnic organizations, or contacts with Chinese friends and family. This racial profiling is unacceptable.

Our community cannot wait for the government to act.  We must also protect our rights. Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus has created this Know Your Rights guide for scientists and other individuals who are contacted by law enforcement agents.  Our national affiliation will continue to champion the rights of our communities and all Americans whenever civil rights and civil liberties are violated on the pretext of national security.

The I Am_ Campaign: Creating Our Stories Together, June 18

The I Am_ Campaign: Creating Our Stories Together, June 18