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FACULTY

Seattle Yiddish Fest is proud to feature the world's leading performers, purveyors and educators in Yiddish culture. Our faculty teach at workshops across Europe, North and South America and beyond and bring their expertise and joy for sharing this world to the small and intimate workshops that can only be found at a festival like this. We start each day all together before splitting into smaller classes based on topic and discipline.

Throughout the weekend there are various opportunities to see and hear the faculty perform, and the informal conversations that happen between sessions, and chance to get to know both other participants and faculty who may not work in the sam discipline as you are often some of the most exciting experiences at a festival like this.

guest faculty

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Benny Ferdman

Visual Art

As a collector of materials and stories from our human, natural and cultural landscape, artist  Benny Ferdman reinterprets images and tales to reclaim wonder in everyday life. His  journey has led him through broad explorations of diverse cultures, to a more intimate engagement with East European Jewish traditions, history and the Yiddish language he grew up with. His paintings, sculptures and installations are animated by a mix of folkloric and natural forms, ancient text, the past, the present, renewal and contradiction.  (see more)

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Susan Hoffman-Watts

Trumpet

Susan Hoffman Watts represents the youngest generation of an important klezmer dynasty that reaches back to 19th century Jewish Ukraine, beginning with her great-grandfather, Joseph Hoffman. Susan is the sole living purveyor of the family’s traditional klezmer trumpet sounds which electrified audiences for decades and have been featured in several documentaries. (see more)

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Sarah Larsson

Yiddish Song

Sarah Jagoda Larsson is a performing musician and folklorist devoted to building resources to preserve and celebrate folk tradition. Sarah tours internationally as a vocalist and percussionist in The Nightingale Trio, an ensemble singing contemporary arrangements of Jewish and Slavic women’s music from Eastern Europe. (see more)

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Ethel Raim

Yiddish Song

Widely recognized for her expertise in both Yiddish and Balkan vocal traditions, Ethel Raim is a master singer of unaccompanied Yiddish ballads and lyrical love songs. Raim first gained recognition with American audiences during the folk revival of the 1960s as the co-founder and director of the influential all-women’s a cappella group, The Pennywhistlers.  (see more)

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Ilya Shneyveys

Accordion, Guitar

Originally from Riga, Latvia, now based in Brooklyn, NY, Ilya Shneyveys is a multi-instrumentalist, educator, composer, arranger, and producer of Yiddish music. With expertise spanning from traditional klezmer accordion to experimental and fusion projects, Ilya performs and teaches at festivals around the world in venues ranging from local bars to Carnegie Hall. (see more)

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Michael Wex

Language & Culture

Author of Born to Kvetch, columnist, bon vivant and raconteur, Michael Wex has been called “a Yiddish national treasure;” Born to Kvetch, the best selling book ever written about Yiddish, was hailed by The New York Times as “wise, witty and altogether wonderful.” (see more)

local faculty

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Jimmy Austin

Trombone, Assistant Coordinator

Jimmy Austin inherited both his name and his first trombone from his paternal grandfather. He began seriously exploring klezmer music about five years ago, when he joined the band Shpilkis. (see more)

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Maia Brown

Yiddish Song, Visual Arts

Maia Brown (she/her) is a visual artist, Yiddish musician, writer, translator, and educator. Brown has a background in oral history and fine art, including a Watson Fellowship to study storytelling and advocacy in South Africa and the North of Ireland. (see more)

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Faith Jones

Yiddish Poetry and Theater

Faith Jones is a librarian, translator, and researcher of Yiddish culture in Vancouver. She is a member of the Digital Yiddish Theatre Project, which brings primary source material and accessible inquiry to the public sphere. (see more)

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Craig Judelman

Violin/Instrumental Music, Festival Director

Craig Judelman grew up in Seattle and since the age of four, was never more comfortable than when he had a fiddle in his hand. He started with classical music but was quickly drawn to traditional folk cultures, studying Klezmer, Jazz, American and other folk music wherever he could. His passion for engaging with the sounds and stylistic nuances captured in old recordings has led him around the world, performing and teaching klezmer and old time American folk music on both sides of the Atlantic. (see more)

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Sasha Senderovich

History and Culture

Sasha Senderovich is the author of How the Soviet Jew Was Made, which was named a finalist for the 2023 National Jewish Book Award. (see more)

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Marianne Tatom

Yiddish Language

Marianne Tatom teaches online Yiddish classes through the Workers Circle, Congregation Beth Shalom (Seattle), the Northern California Workers Circle, and the Edlavitch JCC (Washington, DC). (see more)

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Sarah Zarrow

Jewish History, Dance

Sarrah Ellen Zarrow is an Associate Professor of History at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington, where she also holds the Endowed Professorship in Jewish History.Her ongoing research focuses on Jewish life in Eastern Europe, particularly in Poland. She is especially interested in Jewish museum practices, language politics, and schooling. (see more)

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