The Judaica Sound Archives at Florida Atlantic University (Boca Raton, Florida) collects rare Jewish music that might otherwise be trashed.
The new blog will provide up-to-the-minute information about the JSA’s new acquisitions, developments, new online recordings, people and events.
Family history researchers may find some treasures lurking in its growing database, just as I did.
There are recordings of Cantor Avraham Jassen, my great-grandfather’s maternal uncle, a wunderkind hazzan in Nikoliyev before coming to New York. The 1917 recordings (test recordings) are Hashoshanoh, Hashkivenu (the ending is fabulous!) and Halben Chatoeinu. In addition to his Brooklyn congregation, he also sang at the Metropolitian Opera with Enrico Caruso.
However, there must be a glitch in the search engine as the only one that popped up in the search was Hashoshanoh, listed under A. Yassin. I found the others, listed under Cantor Abraham Jassen, by scrolling down and paging ahead.
Two other gems are a 1904 recording (Shmulovich) singing a very sprightly Hatikvah, and Kanewsky performing a more classic 1915 version with choir.
The primary mission of the JSA, which was established in 2002, is to collect, preserve, and digitize Judaica sound recordings from 1901 to the present, to provide a unique scholarly resource for students, scholars and researchers, in addition to educational programming for the public.
It has also created the largest, most comprehensive online digital collection of Judaica music and comedy in the world, which includes Yiddish theater, Israeli folk, cantorial and Sephardic/Ladino music.
The JSA’s original mission was to create a “haven” for old Judaic 78-rpm recordings, which were in danger of being broken, lost or discarded. The holdings – now at tens of thousands of recordings – represent a unique historical and cultural legacy.
Modern computer technology to used to inventory, digitize and enhance sound quality and to provide an accessible, useful resource of recordings. JSA accepts LPs, 45s, 8-track, cassette tapes, CDs, as well as 78s.
the JSA accepts the following:
— Sound recordings relating to the Jewish experience, regardless of language. Hebrew, English, Yiddish and Ladino are the major languages currently represented in the collection.
— Instrumental pieces identified as relating to the Jewish experience or composed or conducted by a Jew.
— Sound recordings by prominent Jewish performers, composers or conductors, even if there is no clear “Jewish” content.
JSA’s website allows visitors to hear thousands of songs by different performers in a non-downloading (streaming) audio format. Take some time to view the website and listen to the database here.