Sunday, December 16th | 8 Tevet 5779

December 25, 2011 5:47 pm

Chanukah with Theo Bikel

avatar by Malcolm Thomson

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Tom Kahn, Victor Bukovksy, and Theodore Bikel at the AFL-CIO Convention of 1978. Photo: Tom Khan Estate.

Theo Bikel is a hero and a dear friend. Several years ago we gave him a ‘Hoo Ha! (see my piece on Hoo Ha in the Yiddish Smile) birthday party at Carnegie Hall.

I first met Theo when he returned from the Soviet Union in the early fifties. Travel wasn’t too easy in those days; it’s still not that comfortable.  The guitarist/singer was sent by the Ertuguns to record Russian Songs for Elektra Records. He produced two discs and brought back a couple of Yiddish albums. Theo popularized Tumbala. He went on to entertain in the Sound of Music, The Russians are Coming and of course as the beloved Tevyeh.

At his Carnegie Hall birthday festival, Bikel departed from the formal program long enough to thrill, a largely non-Jewish crowd with Yiddish love songs.

Our kids were at Harvard together. Meeting with Harvard President Derek Bok we revolutionized Jewish life at the staid Ivy. Imagine a Shabbat dinner for Harvard parents in Bok’s home?

Below enjoy Theo’s Hanukkah:

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