Thunder, lightning and hard rain did not deter a small but enthusiastic group of people from gathering at the pavilion at the James W. Ollie Park in the village of Walden for a Yiddish dance workshop and Klezmer concert. As the group learned simple dance steps, led by Judy Sweet, a professional music education and dance leader on staff at Yiddish New York, the skies cleared and the sun came out.
Judy, originally from Orange County, was trained at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance. She took the intrepid individuals through several dance routines with joy and laughter abounding.
Following the dance instruction Madárka, a Klezmer band whose name means “little bird” in Hungarian, played traditional Klezmer, Yiddish and other traditional music which might have been heard in the villages of Eastern Europe many years ago, slightly updated. The band, led by Harry Sweet of Pine Bush, included fiddle, mandolin, accordion, clarinet, keyboard, tuba and percussion and had the pavilion resounding with foot tapping and hand clapping to the high energy music.
The dance portion of the evening culminated with a lively Hora, leaving all participants with a feeling of joy and camaraderie. This was followed by a sit down concert featuring Harry Sweet singing songs in Yiddish, Russian and a tiny bit of Romanian.
This singular event was organized by the Walden Jewish Community Center/Congregation Beth Hillel and funded through a grant from the Jewish Federation of Orange County. It definitely was a success and greatly enjoyed by the participants.