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Art is My Weapon

The Radical Musical Life of Lin Jaldati

Lin Jaldati was a Dutch Jewish Communist performer who debuted on the Amsterdam cabaret scene in the 1930s. Yiddishkayt is proud to help present Art Is My Weapon, a multimedia spectacle that you can follow here or see live. Two parts passionate music, one part stunning images, one part inspiring story, Art Is My Weapon tells the life and work of this remarkable performer.

Lin Jaldati, the stage name of Rebekka Brilleslijper, survived most of the war in the Dutch Underground only to be finally betrayed and deported to Auschwitz. After liberation, she moved to the German Democratic Republic with her husband, the German pianist and musicologist Eberhard Rebling.
After their move, the couple helped build an East German socialist phoenix rising from Nazism’s ashes through music. Jaldati’s work reminds us of the central role Yiddish played in memorializing the Holocaust and in envisioning a more peaceful future in Germany, Europe, and around the world.

In the aftermath of the Second World War, as a Nazi death camp survivor and postwar immigrant to the German Democratic Republic, she became a global Yiddish singing sensation.

Jaldati was a key player in shaping Holocaust memory in East Germany, where Soviet-inspired cultural politics about war commemoration intersected with Germany’s role as the perpetrator of war crimes. Jaldati’s Yiddish music sits at that junction.

Based on his groundbreaking research in archives on three continents, historian David Shneer and musician Jewlia Eisenberg have transformed the story of Lin Jaldati into a new, 70-minute mixed media project currently traveling the globe in the footsteps of Jaldati’s own tours. They bring Jaldati to life through a compelling narrative, rare photographs, archival footage, as well as live performances of her repertoire, including Yiddish songs she originally sang for Holocaust survivors in DP camps, peasants in Indonesia, factory workers in North Korea.

This online exhibition is supported, in part, by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission. Additionally this project, along with other Yiddishkayt digital arts initiatives, are made possible in part by a grant from the City of Los Angeles, Department of Cultural Affairs.
David Shneer is the Louis P. Singer Chair in History at the University of Colorado Boulder. A specialist in twentieth century Jewish culture, his scholarship moves off the page and into life through curated exhibits and live performance.
Jewlia Eisenberg is the frontwoman of San Francisco-based Charming Hostess. Her music brings the physical and intellectual together, spanning the spectrum from vocal percussion and sex-breath, to dealing with genocide through song.