Today is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Jessie Brown celebrates the day with Moishe Oysher and the Barry Sisters, and it does seem like a nice way to kick-start a new year.
Moishe Oysher (and that was indeed his real name), was born in Lipkon, Bessarabia in 1907. Even though there were Chazanim in his family, reputedly going back for six generations, he seems to have been drawn more to the stage than following in his predecessor’s footsteps, and whenever travelling players visited his village, much to the disapproval of his father, he would try to get a part in their production as a child player.
In 1921, he was taken to Canada and joined a travelling Yiddish theatrical company, with whom he appeared on the Yiddish stage in New York. In 1932 he led his own company in South America.
In 1934, after he returned from a trip to Buenos Aires, he was unable to get a part in the New York shows since they had all been cast. Needing work, and with the encouragement of his friends, since it was coming up to the High Holyday season he applied to conduct services at the Rumanian Synagogue. He obtained the position and was a sensation!
Moishe now had two careers running. He starred in Yiddish films, The Cantor’s Son, Yankel the Blacksmith, and Der Vilna Balebesel, and it was not long before he became something of a ‘Kosher heart throb.’ He also made numerous recordings, and continued to sing at the Amud. Although he received many offers to appear on Broadway, Moishe always refused, since he would not desecrate Shabbat.
And from Wikipedia’s page on The Barry Sisters:
Born in the Bronx, New York, Clara and Minnie Bagelman were first known as the Bagelman Sisters. As Claire and Myrna Barry they were popular Yiddish jazz singers made popular in the 1940s-1960s on the New York Radio Show “Yiddish Melodies in Swing”, where they would sing jazz recordings in Yiddish. They also would record popular tunes in Yiddish, such as “Rain Drops Keep Falling on My Head.” During the height of their popularity, they even made appearances on the Ed Sullivan and Jack Paar shows and were one of the few American acts to tour the Soviet Union in 1959. The Barry Sisters also recorded with other noted Jewish singers such as Barbara Streisand and Moishe Oysher. The Barry Sisters are thought to be the inspiration for the SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE skit, “The Sweeney Sisters,” in which Jan Hooks and Nora Dunn portrayed a C-list sister cabaret act. Mark Shaiman did the musical arrangements for these sketches.
Although Myrna Barry died in 1976, Claire Barry continues to sing and perform, and was recently featured in the NPR radio show, “Yiddish Melodies in Swing.”
As I’m typing this, I’m listening to a fun Barry Sisters recording on YouTube.
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In the next year, I want to finish the Hereville graphic novel and get well started on my next comic book. What do you folks intend?
This time next year? I want to be agonizing over chapter 12 is what I want.
I want to not be living in my in-laws basement. And I hope it doesn’t take a year to get there!
Thanks for those clips. Those were pretty neat.
This time next year, I want to have achieved the balance between “set” and “settled down.”
I can’t tell you my plans in words. But I wanted to say this really cheers the heart. I’ll check out the Barry Sisters on youtube. Thanks.
The Barry Sisters! I really need to listen to more of them.
By this time next year, I hope to a) have made significant progress in my novel, b) be starting a grad program in library science, and c) be well into a big and sort of scary project that I’m planning.