Looking back…and forward to 2014!


On the autograph line at Once – Broadway!


If 2012 was a year of heartbreak, then 2013 was a year of healing. Not always easy, but the learning curve certainly dragged me along.

Once – Broadway has been a blessing of extraordinary proportion. I go to work each day with the most incredible group of Artists – and then I actually come home each night to my amazing family.  It’s not that I don’t love touring, but sleeping in my own bed and waking up to real life has been a fascinating (and humbling) experience. Baby steps, for sure – often kicking and screaming – but my husband has limitless patience!  Even as we go into our 3rd year on the boards, Once is still fresh and heart-wrenching and every bit as gorgeous as it ever was.  Endless shout-outs to fellow cast, crew, producers, staff and especially the stage managers who continue to keep our Once family safe and inspired. I am so proud to walk into our little bar in Dublin eight shows a week…

KlezKanada 2013 was a terrific getaway with dear friends – and a creative and satisfying week of Yiddish music and dance. As vocal department coordinator, I worked closely with Artistic Director, Frank London on a super successful program that featured remarkable vocal artists from around the world.  Look for updates about KlezKanada 2014: Yiddish is UnDead! It’s going to be off the hook!!!

Actors’ Equity Association celebrated its 100th year representing professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.  I humbly stand on the shoulders of generations of Union activists who made it possible for theatre artists to be treated fairly in the workplace. I know that I’m but a small voice in the larger Labor Movement, but I am so proud to be making a difference in our profession and our industry.  Heaps of gratitude to the AEA Staff for letting us do the “Show” while they handle the “Business.”  Looking ahead, I hope to continue my service as I run for Principal Councilor in 2014.  I’ll keep you posted!

Proudly Progressive Holidays at the Workmen’s Circle/Arbeter Ring included a Community Seder that honored Beyle Schaechter Gottesman (z”l) and focused on the issues that face our nation’s newest immigrants.  The High Holidays included a fantastic kids program and featured the participation of the Midtown Shule’s leaders and families.  I am always so grateful for the opportunity to observe the holidays in the warm blanket of poetry and music and dedicated lovers of Yiddish. Huge thanks to Lorin Sklamberg for sharing his voice and talent and soul.

NYC Dance Alliance Foundation kicked off the fall with its annual fundraiser, Bright Lights, Shining Stars a benefit performance to provide college scholarships for talented young dancers.  What a privilege to be working again with former dance partner Joe Lanteri, Founder/Executive Director of this astonishing organization. And what a star-studded cast!  Felicia Finlay (Mamma Mia!) Charlotte D’amboise (Pippin) and Catherine Zeta-Jones (Chicago) to name but a few… 5! 6! 7! 8!


with Theo, Bel and Fyvush at Symphony Space

Miracle of Miracles!    This gala performance at Symphony Space celebrated the activism and artistry of Theodore Bikel in honor of his 90th birthday.  I was fortunate enough to co-host this once-in-a-lifetime event, which included appearances by Emmy winner, Fyvush Finkel and best-selling author (and grand-daughter of Sholem Aleichem) Bel Kaufman.  Shmoozing backstage over deli sandwiches and Cel-Ray tonic with this remarkable group (whose combined ages total almost 300 years!) was definitely one of the highlights of 2013.  Thanks abound to Zalmen Mlotek, Bryna Wasserman and the National Yiddish Theatre-Folksbiene for inviting me to be part of this glorious evening!

Of course, 2013 saw great loss as well – In particular, three magnificent women of the Yiddish world who mentored and inspired so many.  Chana Yachness (z”l), Chana Mlotek (z”l) and Beyle Schaechter Gottesman (z”l) will live on in our hearts as their poetry, music and memory will continue to be a blessing.  The year finished up with the annual Dreaming in Yiddish concert – in memory of sister Yiddish Diva, Adrienne Cooper, and honoring a star-spangled and sparkly Jenny Romaine.  Out of sadness can come great joy, and seeing my fellow Klezmorim in one modest room making giant-sized music is the perfect celebration of a true artist’s life.  Lekhayim!!

Many, many thanks to ALL OF YOU!!  Everyone who cut me slack when I couldn’t get out of my own way, gave me a break when I was being cranky or ridiculous and loved me unconditionally, even when I probably didn’t deserve it.  They say that making your Resolutions public will help you to keep them. So last, but not least…here goes:

Joanne’s 2013 Resolutions…

New Year’s Resolution #1:   Take time to smell the roses, enjoy the sights and truly listen to people – even the ones who disagree with me…

New Year’s Resolution #2:  Find the gratitude, even on the most challenging days – especially the days that make my head explode.

New Year’s Resolution #3:  Don’t take anyone or anything for granted…  I think that bears repeating, don’t you?  Don’t take anyone or anything for granted…

New Year’s Resolution #4:  Stop talking!  JUST DO IT!!  (I was going to dedicate this one, but the list got too long- you know who you are, so thanks for continuing to lean on me…)

New Year’s Resolution #5:   Neglect NOT thy BLOG!! And REALLY keep in touch with family, friends, colleagues and the planet…

New Year’s Resolutions #6 and beyond:  TBD…Stay tuned…

Wishing you all good friends, good times, good work, and good fortune for the new year.


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Happy Thanksgivukkah!!

Happy Thanksgivukkah!!

In the timeless words of Menachem Mike Fox:

Let us recall now, our heroes of old,
When darkness was all that our future foretold.
Did they lose their faith? Did their fire grow cold?
Chanukah’s message must always be told…

Lomir dermonen di heldishe teg
Ven undzer folk iz geshtanen baym breg
Tsi hitn dem flam? Tsi farlirn dem veg?
Lomir dermonen di Khanike teg…



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Dip the Apples in the Honey…

Wishing everyone Shana Tova for a Sweet New Year filled with Love, Good Health, Prosperity and Peace…


 And if you’re looking for a proudly progressive way to celebrate the season,  I’ll be leading holiday observances in a new location.

Please join me as we welcome 5774.

Rosh Hashone

WHEN:   10am – September 5th –

WHERE: B’nai Zion – 136 East 39th St, (bet Lex & 3rd)

Yom Kippur

WHEN:   10am – September 14th –

WHERE: WC/AR – 247 West 37th St, 5th fl (bet 7th-8th)

For more info, call the Workmen’s Circle/Arbeter Ring at 212-889-6800, or just show up!

I hope to see you there!


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The end of a beautiful Summer…

What a terrific Summer, filled with music, Yiddishkayt and great friends…


with Frank London at KlezKanada (photo by Mookie Parago)

  • KlezKamp in Madison! — What a privilege to be part of this inaugural event!  Many thanks to Sherry Mayrent, Henry Sopoznik and the University of Wisconsin’s Center for Jewish Studies for making Yiddish music and culture a part of their ongoing curriculum.
  • Ot Azoy / Tumbala in London!! — This was my second appearance at the University of London/Jewish Music Institute’s festival of Jewish Language and Song.  Collaborating with Shura Lipovsky, Polina Shepherd, Helen Khayele Beer and Sonya Pincusowitz (among many others) was a huge highlight of this wonderful experience.  Also, I had the opportunity to see lots of great theatre, including London Road at the National Theatre and Anne Boleyn at Shakespeare’s Globe.
  • KlezKanada in the beautiful Laurentian Mountains!!!  Besides being able to share this exciting week with my husband, it was great to be surrounded by the music of Theodore Bikel, Tamara Brooks and their groundbreaking project, Serendipity 4.
  • Performing with Yiddish Hip-Hop star So-Called aka Josh Dolgin and the Klezmer Conservatory Band in Mexico City!!!!  The 90th Anniversary of the Ashkenazi community in Mexico City was a huge success.  So many languages in one room… Yiddish, Spanish, Hebrew, Ladino… listening to the audience as they sung along to all of our Yiddish favorites was remarkable…
  • And finally, singing at Yiddishfest 2011 at Tompkins Square Park, NYC  with Grammy winners Arturo O’Farrill and Frank London!!!!!  The Workmen’s Circle/Arbeter Ring continues its commitment to Yiddish culture in this final free concert of the 2011 Season.

Keep an eye out for upcoming Fall events, including Rosh Hashone and Yom Kippur Observances at the new Workmen’s Circle in New York, a Kosher Kabaret in Jericho, NY, and a return engagement at Valley Beth Sholom in Encino, California.

Hope to see you all soon!!

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I sang… I ran… I lived…!!

Anthem … then five fabulous miles!

Marathon Kickoff in Central Park

OK, I promise I will not blog every NYRR National Anthem that I’m lucky enough to perform, but today, after singing the Anthem on a spectacular Halloween morning in Central Park … I put on my running shoes and… (drumroll please…)


Ready to Run...

How ’bout that??!!  5 miles!! It was a blast, and I didn’t stop, or pass out, or even regret getting out there after a three and a half year hiatus.   Afterward, a long hot shower … and a teeny little nap … and I’m ready to get up and do it again!  Who knew?  Now, I’m not going to wax poetic –> way too tired… but I am so pumped!  And though I look like a little teapot in this picture, I finished the race in relatively good time… FYI, I’ll be singing – and running again – at the NYRR 5-miler this Friday, November 5th, 8am — so come to the Central Park if you’re around.  If I can do this, so can you!!

In Other News: The Witches are Coming!

I am so proud to be part of a wonderful new public radio program that begins recording next week.  The Witches of Lublin, a new one-hour drama by Ellen Kushner, Elizabeth Schwartz, and Yale Strom. It stars Tovah Feldshuh (Yentl, Golda’s Balcony) and features Simon Jones (Brideshead Revisited, Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) Neil Gaiman (Coraline, The Graveyard Book) and Barbara Rosenblat (Anne Frank Remembered, The Secret Garden) with a supporting cast of New York’s finest audio actors (that includes me!!) and fresh music by leading klezmer musicians.  Directed and Produced by Sue Zizza, I am totally psyched to be working with this incredible company on such an innovative project!

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…the Bronx & Staten Island, too…

Another Sunday ~ Another Anthem!

The Staten Island Half Marathon!

The Lady in the Harbor from the SI Ferry

And what a GORGEOUS day for it!!

Indian Summer in New York is heavenly, which made waking up at 5AM to get to the Staten Island Ferry and the starting line by 8:30am well worth the effort.  So many runners crowding onto the Ferry, I thought the commuters would go a little insane… but the image of Lady Liberty and the great NYC skyline floating by is enough to calm even the antsiest of passengers.  I never understood the power of our national anthem until I started singing it before crowds of anxious athletes;  those words “by the dawn’s early light” as the sun rises over New York Harbor?  I get goose bumps just thinking of it!

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