A Klezmer Nutcracker
    by John Cech

Brief sound clip

That's the familiar theme from Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker," dancing to the sound of the Shirim Klezmer Orchestra on a CD called "The Golden Dreydl." This joyous music is part of a reimagined, Jewish version of the Nutcracker story by Ellen Kushner, who hosts the Public Radio program, "Sound and Spirit." And these lively, "Kleznut" rhythms are the perfect accompaniment for Chanukkah this week. After all, it's the feast of light and a time for miracles and wonders, time for celebrating, and for spinning the dreydl, the four-sided top that is traditionally played during the holidays.

Sara and her brother Seth are loaded into the car to go to a big Chanukkah party at their aunt Leah's. There they meet their wise, ancient Tante Miriam. She brings gifts for all the children and a special golden dreydl for Sara. Seth and the other kids pull the top away from Sara and spin it until their rough play causes a disaster and puts an end to the party. But that's only the beginning of Sara's journey, into a land where she meets the golden dreydl come to life (as King Solomon's daughter); the Latkes Queen; the marching Macabees; the beautiful, vain peacock; and the fool.

Brief sound clip

Accompanied by this eternal, upside-down spirit, Sara rescues the golden dreydl from the demons that have kidnapped her, and helps restore peace and tranquility to this mythic world. All's well that ends well, especially if it's done to the tune of the "Waltz of Ruggellah"

Copyright 2002 John Cech

Klezmer Nutcracker

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December 2002
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Monday, 16-Dec-2002 00:38:20 EST

"Recess!" is a co-production of the University of Florida's Center for Children's Literature and Culture and WUFT-FM, "Classic 89."