A statement to the Israeli Ambassador from the Klezmer Rebs

Tonight, on the 5th night of Hanukah, 12/12/12, the Klezmer Rebs played a gig at a community celebration in Wellington’s Civic square. It was attended by the Mayor, a big crowd of Jews and non-Jews, and sponsored/organised by the Israeli Embassy.

In the past few weeks the band members had discussed our feelings about playing for a Jewish Hanukah festival gig sponsored by the Israeli Embassy. We decided yes we wanted to perform and that we also wanted to take the opportunity to express our views to the Israeli Ambassador. We gave a good deal of thought about what we wanted to say.

Just before we sang a medley of Israeli/Hebrew songs about peace, Dave Moskovitz, on behalf of the band, said the following:

“Our next number is a medley of peace songs that will be familiar to many, composed of biblical verses and prayers yearning for, and helping us actualise peace.

“Lo yisa goy el goy kherev, lo yilmdu od milkhama”: Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, and neither shall they learn war any more;

“V’khitatu kharvotam l’itim, v’khanitotehem l’mazmerot”: They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks;

“Hevenu shalom aleikhem”: we brought peace to you; and

“Oseh shalom bimromav”: May the maker of peace in high places bring peace to Israel and all the world”.
“So let’s get up and dance for peace!

“Mr Ambassador, I’m glad you implored people earlier today to pray for peace, but we need more than prayer – we need action. Praying, singing and dancing for peace aren’t enough; bringing about peace, and overcoming decades of counterproductive attitudes and actions is very hard work and requires individual and collective leadership and commitment from everyone including the Israeli government. The time has come to tell your Government to show that leadership, put down your weapons, and seriously negotiate in good faith to bring about peace. Bombing civilians and building settlements on land whose ownership is in question is not good faith. Fulfil the words of Isaiah, and show that Israel is called into righteousness as a light unto the nations. The time is now.”

The Klezmer Rebs


The Klezmer Rebs go to church for lunch – free concert at Old St Paul’s Tuesday 14/8 at 12.15pm

UPDATE – Our outstanding clarinet player Urs Signer will make the trip down from Parihaka to join the Rebs at our free lunchtime concert.

So bring along your bagel and chicken soup lunch to Old St Paul’s church, 34 Mulgrave St, Thorndon, and enjoy a FREE concert by Wellington’s Klezmer Rebs on Tuesday 14th August, from 12.15 to 1pm.

The Rebs will entertain you with a set of our unique klezmer folk, American jazz and swing music.

Enjoy the lively noodlings of clarinet, mandolin, trombone in the intimate setting of Old St Paul’s. See you there!

Thanks to the Friends of Old St Paul’s & the WCC Creative Communities Local Funding Scheme.

Where: Old St Paul’s 34 Mulgrave St, Thorndon 

When:  Tuesday 14 August at 12.15pm

Cost:  Free

Benefit Concert – Clothes for children of Adarsh Saraswati (India) School


Benefit Concert – Clothes for children of Adarsh Saraswati (India) School

Gig features: The Wagtails, The Klezmer Rebs, Merlyn Webster, Bella Cajon

Where: Newtown Community Centre

When: Saturday, June 9th 8pm  Dinner/food from 7pm.

Cost: $10 at the door, Refreshments & Raffle available

The concert is in aid of the Adarsh Saraswati School, Sonipat, Haryana State, India for children from the slums and impoverished rural districts, i.e. the poorest of the poor.

Our previous concert raised money for warm winter clothes for the younger children. This time we are raising money for clothes for the older children.

Sunday Star Times won’t name the title of our new CD

Good on Mike Alexander for mentioning the Klezmer Rebs dilemma in his On the Beat column in the Sunday Star Times (26 February 2012, pF17), but awfully weird that “for legal reasons we cannot name the title of the album.”  Oh, you must be referring to Anarchia Total.  Now how is a song about freedom and standing up for civil and human rights a threat to the nation or Urs’s trial?

Want to judge for yourself? For a live version and translation of Urs’s song Anarchia Total have a look and listen here http://klezmer.co.nz/our-music/ (scroll down a bit). Ask for the new Klezmer Rebs album Anarchia Total at your local CD shop (if your town has any left) and/or order here  http://klezmer.co.nz/cd-order/ or on line here http://klezmer.bandcamp.com/ .

For the band’s view about it all, have a read of this http://klezmer.co.nz/2012/02/18/1016/

Thanks for the nice words and support from Ode Records boss Roger Marbeck.

The full article is below.

Blog review of our recent concert at Dowse Art Museum


Thelongdarkteatimeofthesoul blog has some nice things to say about our recent concert at the Dowse ‘From Shtetl to Kiwi Klezmer’ a chronological story of klezmer music.

We’d love to do this curated concert again. We are looking to set up a concert in Auckland on Queens Birthday weekend – contact us through our facebook page if you would like to help.  Here is what the programme looked like:

A statement from the Klezmer Rebs band about our band member Urs Signer

You will know that Urs Signer, our awesome clarinettist and composer, is on trial for some very serious charges. We wish our interested public and fans to know how we feel about this.

What happened

Urs has been with the band for over 7 years, featuring on our first ‘real’ CD – ‘Live at the Wellington Folk Festival’ in 2005.  It was Urs’s performance that made the Rebs stand out then.

In October 2007 we again were booked to play at the Folk Festival, then learned the week before that our friend musician Urs Signer and his girlfriend Emily had been arrested at gunpoint in the Wellington Green Belt.  We visited him at Rimutaka Prison, in an orange boiler suit. It was surreal.

We were rehearsing that weekend when we discovered in talking to each other that we had all noticed interference and funny clicks and sounds on our telephones; we were personally affronted and shaken by this civil rights violation of innocent citizens by state surveillance.

Don Franks (bless him) and his brass band came and played and spoke truth and raised some money, and I gave an impassioned speech about how the State had taken Urs, one of us, and that we must all stand together, for we could be next.

How we feel as a band

The Klezmer Rebs, always a political band, have been deeply affected by Urs’s struggles.  As a band that supports good causes, we have offered our performance services free to Sea Shepherd, the Christchurch Earthquake (Red Cross), the Green Party, an Indian orphanage and others. The Rebs frequently play for and contribute to Jewish community festivities and inter-faith activities. And we raise money to help pay for the legal costs for those arrested in the 2007 Operation 8 ‘terror’ raids.

On our CD cover you will see a foto of Urs shouting truths into a microphone.  Now, finally on trial after 4½  years of being under police watch and legal proceedings, we need to speak out in support of ‘one of us’ who is on trial.  The Klezmer Rebs perform the song Anarchia Total in that context.

We stand behind Urs, our peaceful anarchist activist klezmer musician father, proudly and firmly.  We are honoured to be extended whanau for Urs and his partner Emily Bailey, providing emotional and moral support, and to offer an outlet for Urs creative genius as a composer and performer.

Anarchia Total CD and song

Our new CD is titled Anarchia Total, and while it features a range of Rebs interpretations of traditional and unusual English /Yiddish /Russian and klezmer songs, its centrepiece is Urs’s title composition written after his experience of arrest and imprisonment.

Anarchia Total is not a song about the October 2007 ‘terror raids’ or about violence.

It is a song (in 5 languages) about standing up for freedom and resisting oppression, repression, racism and fascism everywhere.  It is written in the tradition of freedom songs such as 1930’s Italian anti-fascist anthem Bella Ciao (which the Rebs deliver in staunch and rousing fashion at our live gigs, and which appears our CD Just add shmaltz), and Shtil di Nacht and Zog nit Keynmol which are two Yiddish World War 2 Jewish anti-Nazi resistance songs.

In the end, Anarchia Total is a song about celebrating – ‘now we’re dancing once again’ – and it’s just damn fun to play and dance to.

Klezmer Rebs and politics

It is true that Urs describes himself as an anarchist, but other Klezmer Rebs band members do not. I (David Weinstein) am a Green Party activist and others are left-leaning.  While Anarchia Total calls for ‘one solution, revolution’ and ‘revolution, autonomy, self-determination’ it is not a call to violence or arms. Band members agree that the current global financial system is unsustainable, ruining our planet and causing social inequity and poverty, and the ‘revolution’ we seek is to change the current system to one that meets the needs of all people and planet.

The Klezmer Rebs members listed below support political activism and protest; we do not support violence.

When Urs plays with the Rebs we are at our best

Urs generally travels from his home with Emily Bailey at Parihaka, Taranaki for major Klezmer Rebs gigs, like our recent performances on the South Island and at the Dowse Art Museum. Due to the trial he is unable to commit to perform with the band over the next few months.  We do play concerts without him when he is not available but the Rebs are at our best when Urs’s clarinet soars above all and electrifies our audiences.

Please listen to and enjoy our music

Please listen to the Anarchia Total CD, and our previous 2008 CD Just add shmaltz (also available on Ode Records). These songs are from a klezmer tradition about the joy and sorrows of living, about the struggles of an oppressed minority people. The songs are also wacky, and sometimes rude; they are full of passion; they are about dancing and living life to the fullest.

David Weinstein

Sue Esterman

Heather Elder

Rosemary O’Hara

Dave Moskovitz

Amanda Maclean

Rainer Thiel

 of the Klezmer Rebs band

david.weinstein@klezmer.co.nz Cell 021 077 6069




Lynn, Mata Hari and three Rebs: “Words on Edge” at Cafe Meow Wednesday 15 February

This Wednesday nite 15 February at 7.30 at Cafe Meow http://www.welovemeow.co.nz/ you can be literate and watch (for free!) Amy Brown, Lynn Jenner and Aleksandra Lane join NZ Poet Laureate Ian Wedde in a relaxed but edgy take on poetry “Words on Edge” as part of the Fringe Festival.

Some may recall that Lynn Jenner, author of the award winning poetry volume Dear Sweet Harry worked with the Rebs in a poetry reading with music at the now defunct Ruby Lounge.  Lynn will perform a new work The life and death of Mata Hari in 12 minutes. This features Klezmer Rebs musos Rose O’Hara on piano, Heather Elder on violin and David Weinstein, guitar and vox. Lynn will read her work to the musical backing of klezmer tunes from the Klezmer Rebs repetoire including a new composition by Heather.

Come along and be arty and edgy, and be moved by Mata Hari’s story through Lynn’s beautiful language.

Klezmer Rebs at Late Lounge, Dowse Art Museum, Thursday 2 February 7-8.30 pm

Enjoy authentic klezmer music and check out the exhibitions at the beautiful Dowse Art Museum for their first “Late Lounge” music event for 2012.

The Klezmer Rebs will perform for 90 minutes our own version of  klezmer music, world/folk music born out of the Yiddish/Jewish culture of eastern Europe.  Relax on a bean bag, pull up a chair or get dancing – all galleries, cafe, shop and cash bar open until 9pm.

Now in our 10th year, the Wellington-based Klezmer Rebs ethnic/European world music band have released their latest CD Anarchia Total (on Ode Records) and will be playing from it as well as two previous CDs Just add shmaltz and Live at the 2005 Wellington Folk Festival.

For the Dowse’s Late Lounge show the Rebs klezmer curators will take the audience on a chronological tour through klezmer history beginning with earlier folky forms of eastern European ‘shtetl’ wedding tunes and dances, to Warsaw ghetto and Yiddish partisan anthems, through to klezmer’s fusion with American jazz and swing, the klezmer 1980s revival and up to the modern day world klezmer genres.

So come along and discover it for yourself

Thursday 7pm at the Dowse Art Museum, 45 Laings Road, Lower Hutt.  Koha admission.




New Klezmer Rebs CD Anarchia Total now available!

Hi Rebs fans

Finally after 13 months gestation Anarchia Total is now available to order (for CD click here http://klezmer.co.nz/cd-order/ or to download digital version or individual songs click here http://klezmer.bandcamp.com/album/anarchia-total).  Weighing in at 31 minutes 44 seconds it is just short of a full length CD so, for you, we are selling it for just $15 (plus postage).  At 0.78 cents per second, that is amazing value, nu?  Of course Just add shmaltz at just under 45 minutes is still available for the rock bottom price of $20.

Anarchia Total was recorded live at the Ruby Lounge in Wellington, NZ in November 2010, and features 7 live tracks including traditional klezmer tunes Sher and Yoshke, some unconventional ones like David Kaetz’s country swing klezmer song Blue Klezmer Moon, the Yiddish tango Gedenk, a cover of the rude Russian song (by Leningrad) Zvezda Rok-n-Rolla, the popular crowd pleaser Minnie the Moocher, and of course our own Urs Signer’s political call to arms Anarchia Total whose lyrics you can find here (http://klezmer.co.nz/our-music/ – scroll down below the youtube video of the song).  The new CD also features a few bonus tracks including Yishama-o-Rama ((Radiata edit) which is a remix of our version of Od Yishama/L’khayim Yidelkh by NZ DJ Cut Loose.

Buy now and at no extra cost you’ll receive nothing extra at all!