Beverages, Berries and Burial: The revival of the UZDA Gravediggers, with Jenny Romaine and Geoff Berner
Between the bundist bootmakers of Minsk and the dashing sash weavers of Slutsk, there were the Gravediggers and Gardeners of UZDA. Once a musar town in Yiddish Lite, now a sleepy shtetl in Belarus, UZDA is home to two adjacent cemeteries, one Jewish and one Muslim Tatar. UZDA, was also the birthplace of the great Yiddish and Hebrew story teller Dvora Baron who wrote in her piece Burying the Books:
“Friends, today we bury our Torah scroll…these torn prayer shawls, these holy books…but do not imagine for a moment that they will stay buried forever…For surely the day will come…when our Redeemer arrives (and here Father gestures toward one grave and then another) and then…and then…”
And then what?
Join singer/songwriter/accordionist/novelist Geoff Berner and documentary spectacle theater director Jenny Romaine in a Yiddish Revival of the lost memories and folkways of the Gravediggers and Gardeners of UZDA. Drawing on primary source materials and historically rooted gossip gathered in 2015 by Romaine and Ben Kline (Helix/Yiddishkayt translator/interpreter) we will theatrically lift up the central role of Jews and their Tatar neighbors in the ritual food and beverage economy of the region.
Of all material culture nothing is more lifeless than a tombstone, but in this workshop we will follow our curiosity about Jewish and Tatar cultures living, dying and picking cherries, green and pink gooseberries, red, white, and black currants, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries adjacent to each other for centuries. Be part of this coming back “to life” after centuries in the dirt of UZDA.
Folks with knowledge of Yiddish, Arabic, Hebrew, Belarusian, Russian, Turkic languages, Persian, and Ukranian are highly encouraged to participate.