East Brunswick Public Library Town Center

East Brunswick Public Library Hosts “The Jews of Tsarist Russia and Bessarabia Before the Holocaust” Program

A Jewish man in Kishinev in 1900. Credits: Wikipedia

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - East Brunswick Public Library (2 Jean Walling Civic Center) presents the fifth installment in the series “The Jews of Eastern Europe Before The Holocaust” on April 8 at 2:30 pm.

“The intent of the series is to bring to light the legacy of my Jewish ancestors, prior to their annihilation during the Shoah,” said Dr. Michael G. Kesler, producer of the event.  Since his retirement in 2006, Kesler has written extensively of his and his late wife’s experiences during World War II.

This is the final annual program of a series on the history, culture, and music of Eastern European Jewry before the Holocaust.  The series examines Tsarist Russia, where most of the six million victims of the Shoah came from.  It is also where at least three-quarters of American Jews trace their origin.  Tsarist Russia did, in fact, serve as the incubator of traditional Judaism as well as of the blossoming growth of the more liberal movements during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Sign Up for E-News

The series’ mission has been to save whatever could be rescued from the ashes of the Shoah, including Yiddish, an offshoot of Germanic dialect that spread throughout European and American Jewry as a lingua franca. It became the language of writers, poets, and educators, as well as of Jewish communities. 

Previous annual programs have presented the history and culture of the Jews of Ukraine, the Jews of Poland, the Jews of Russia, and the Jews of Belarus and the Baltic States.  They have attracted full-house audiences of over 200 attendees.

This year’s program highlights Bessarabia, the swath of Tsarist Russia sandwiched between the Ukraine and Romania near the Black Sea, in the 19th and early 20th centuries.  During that period the Jews increased five-fold their population and established an important presence in the main cities, where they accounted for approximately 40% of the inhabitants.  They enriched their religious, cultural, and social lives, providing fertile soil for the growth of Hasidic dynasties, Zionism, Jewish culture and music, and the Jewish press.  At the same time, they became important partners in Bessarabia’s mercantile, manufacturing, and professional life.

A distinguished historian, Professor Glenn Dynner, Chair of Humanities at Sarah Lawrence College in Westchester, New York, will present the history of the region.  Dr. Tamara Freeman, an ethnomusicologist, noted Holocaust music educator, and violist, will lead the program’s selections of traditional and classical compositions, with pianist/composer David Schlossberg.  A cadre of accomplished artists will join Tamara and David:  Dr. Michael Kesler, a petroleum engineer and former cantor of JCCP (tenor); Dr. Susan Hornstein, an Information Architect of computer systems and director of the Central New Jersey chapter of HaZamir, the International Jewish High School Choir (alto); Deborah Gerber, an educator and long-time member of  Makhelat HaMercaz (vocalist); Dr. David Simen received his PhD in Mathematics from the University of Michigan  and is a member of Makhelat HaMercaz (baritone); Steven White, a tenor of the Makhelat HaMercaz; Donna Messer, founder and guiding spirit of the Highland Park Recorder Society (recorder player); Korina Kesler, high-school junior and member of the Westchester County Symphony Orchestra (violinist); and May Kesler, founder of Keslerdances, a contemporary dance company, and featured artist in “Dance Across the USA” (dancer).

Jennifer Podolsky (Director of East Brunswick Public Library), Rabbi Esther Reed (Senior Associate Director of Hillel at Rutgers University) and Rabbi Jeff Pivo (East Brunswick Jewish Center) will offer opening remarks.  Dr. Barbara Reed of Rutgers University will recite one of Chaim Nachman Bialik’s famous poems.

The program is sponsored by the East Brunswick Public Library, the Karma Foundation, the Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey, and the East Brunswick Jewish Center.

Welcome to TAP into East Brunswick's weekly update of news and events from the East Brunswick Public Library.  These columns are brought to you by Christopher Barnes,  the voice of EBPL's online outreach.

Christopher Barnes

East Brunswick Public Library

2 Jean Walling Civic Center

East Brunswick, NJ 08816

p: 732-390-6772

e: cbarnes@ebpl.org


The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

East Brunswick

East Brunswick's Ethan Reiss Saves the History of Who We Are

July 15, 2018

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - To some people, lists of names and pictures of locations just create a jumble of information and a confusing mass of facts.  To Ethan Reiss, a historian from East Brunswick who is working to keep facts alive, these bits and pieces come together to form a picture of who we are based on who we were in the past.

Reiss, the administrator of the popular "You Know ...

East Brunswick Council Candidates Respond to Mayor Cohen’s Comments in Recent TapInto Article

July 18, 2018

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ- Councilwoman Camille Clark and Council Candidates Curt Philipczak and Dhar Khona released the following statement in response to Mayor Cohen:

“While the TAP article and the Mayor focus on the semantics in differentiating between the phrases and terms “Redevelopment Zone” and “other” new construction, the end product is the same.  Simply ...

Learn How to “Ace The Interview” at the East Brunswick Public Library

EAST BRUNSWICK—Looking for a new job? East Brunswick Public Library (2 Jean Walling Civic Center) is here to help. The library offers a special program called “Acing the Interview” on Saturday, July 21 at 10:30 am, which is designed to help jobseekers.

“Acing the Interview” focuses on what many feel is the most stressful part of the job search process: the ...

Learn About Food Preservation at the East Brunswick Public Library

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ—East Brunswick Public Library and the Friends of the East Brunswick Environmental Commission are presenting the special program “Food Preservation 101” at the library (2 Jean Walling Civic Center) on Wednesday, August 1 at 7:00 pm.

“Food Preservation 101” covers the basics of food preservation. The program is led by Shailja Mathur and ...

East Brunswick Public Library Hosts "An Olde-Time Summer Band Concert"

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ—East Brunswick Public Library (2 Jean Walling Civic Center) is more than just books. On Sunday, July 15 at 2:00 pm, the library hosts a special concert featuring the Central Jersey Wind Ensemble.

Titled “An Old Time Summer Band Concert,” the concert is a sponsored by the Friends of the Library. The Central Jersey Wind Ensemble will perform a variety of ...

East Brunswick Public Library Hosts Special Health Day

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ—Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey and East Brunswick Public Library are teaming up to host a special evening of health programs at the library (2 Jean Walling Civic Center) on Wednesday, July 11.

Horizon will be providing blood pressure and blood sugar screenings in the library from 7:00 to 8:00 pm.

The program “Brain Games – Keep ...

Lucia, Lucia by Adriani Trigiani

Lucia, Lucia by Adriana Trigiani (Ballentine Books, 2003)


If a summer romance novel is what you are craving to read as you sit by the pool or beach, Adriana Trigiani's Lucia, Lucia is a perfect choice. Set in 1950 New York City, the novel is about a young woman, Lucia Sartori, who is determined to have a career and be able to support herself, an unusual choice for a girl who was ...

The Anatomy of Escape by Mike Blue

The Anatomy of Escape: An Unconventional Adventure by Mike Blue (Available on Amazon)


Imagine that you could just say, “Chuck it,” and walk away from the bonds that keep you tied to what Mike Blue, author of The Anatomy of Escape: An Unconventional Adventure, defines as the restrictive Work-Consume-Die cycle. To most of us, becoming what Blue terms “a ...

To Our Current and Future Representatives

July 17, 2018

To Our Current and Future Representatives - Wherever They May Be:

We can never forget we are a nation of immigrants. 

We cannot fall prey to fear, ignorance and anger when we  have been historically driven by freedom and justice. 

We must have the courage and will to fight hate, bigotry and prejudice. 

We must not wake up to what we hoped was a bad dream and ...

'Servant of Two Masters' exudes foolish fun

‘Servant of Two Masters’ makes for foolish, frivolous fun

By Liz Keill

MADISON, NJ –Carlo Goldoni’s “The Servant of Two Masters,” in a rousing translation and adaptation by Bonnie J. Monte, has the outdoor audience at The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey laughing and clapping all the way through.

The yearly production, held at the amphitheatre on the ...

5 Simple Ways to Save Water this Summer

According to the L.A. Times, the average American uses an estimated 98 gallons of water EACH day.  

Here are five simple ways you can save water, to help you conserve water this summer and take some pressure off of your drains.

1. Unless you are using it, turn the faucet off. How many of us still leave the water running while we shave or brush our teeth?According to ...