Multigenerational Family Storytelling Workshop

Bring multiple generations of your family together, no matter the distance, for a lively evening of guided storytelling. Viewers will learn the importance and how-to’s of family storytelling. Be prepared to learn surprising new details about your relatives - you may have more in common than you think! This program was presented by the Center for Jewish History, in collaboration with and with funding from Culture Pass. Culture Pass is a program for cardholding patrons of New York City’s public libraries, the Brooklyn Public Library, New York Public Library, and Queens Public Library. Support for Culture Pass is provided by The New York Community Trust, Charles H. Revson Foundation, Stavros Niarchos Foundation, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. This event took place on May 6, 2021. In this talk, Samantha M. Cooper (CJH Dr. Sophie Bookhalter Graduate Fellow in Jewish Culture 2020-2021, NYU Ph.D. Candidate in Historical Musicology) presents the first extended investigation into the patterns that shaped the trajectories of numerous men and women of Jewish descent who pursued careers as opera singers in New York between 1880 and 1940. Drawing on a wealth of archival resources, she unearths over 50 European- and American-born singers from Jewish families who sang in the citadel of America’s opera scene: New York City. Specifically, she attends to how the outsized frequency of name-changing, connections with the synagogue cantorate, performances for Jewish organizations, recordings in Jewish languages, networking with other Jewish musicians, impact of the Holocaust, and dedication to the State of Israel shaped these singers’ professional lives in particularly Jewish ways. Ultimately, Cooper finds that the statistically significant presence of extraordinarily talented Jewish performers in the American opera industry constituted a much more ordinary reality than scholars of American Jewish history have previously realized. This event took place on May 5, 2021.

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