Pulse of the Past: Reviving Memories of the Jewish Diaspora
A unique event was held at the Irish Jewish Museum in Dublin on August 20th. Musicians and writers came together to explore the theme of the Jewish heart in exile. Entitled “Pulse of the Past, Reviving Memories of the Jewish Diaspora”, the programme was filled with soulful music from singer/composer Maja Elliot on piano and violin, klezmer clarinettist Alain Halimi and Yiddish singer Carl Nelkin as well as readings from local poet Gerry McDonnell and Russian writer Margarita Meklina. They took the audience on a literary and musical journey from Tsarist Russia to Dublin, Argentina, France and New York in a moving tribute to the migration of the Jewish people. Culture and Education Director of the museum, Yvonne Altman O’Connor stated the museum was so pleased the audience (which was full to capacity) was so appreciative of the multi-talented ensemble which gave such an evocative performance.
The event was to celebrate National Heritage Week and in anticipation of the European Days of Jewish Culture which has chosen the theme “Diasporas” for this year.
Find out more about Heritage Week.
GERRY MC DONNELL was born in 1950 and lives in Dublin. He has had five collections of poetry published and has written for stage, radio and television. His interest in Irish Jewry has resulted in the play Song of Solomon, a chapbook Jewish Influences in Ulysses and a collection of monologues, Mud Island Elegy, in which Jews of 19thcentury Ireland speak about their lives from beyond the grave. Lost and Found depicts a homeless Jew wandering in the Phoenix Park in Dublin. Mud Island Anthology, concerning ‘ordinary’ Dublin gentiles who lived in the latter half of the 20th century, was published by Lapwing Publications in 2009 and is a companion collection to the Elegypoems. In 2015, Lapwing published I Heard an Irish Jew, a selection of poetry and prose which has been translated into Romanian. He is a member of the Writers Guild of Ireland and the Irish Writers’ Union.
Award-winning author MARGARITA MEKLINA has published six collections of short stories in Russia. Her first novel in English The Little Gaucho Who Loved Don Quixote is an imaginatively told story of a Jewish boy Naftali and his family in Imperial Russia’s Pale of Settlements. As one reviewer noted, “Naftali’s place as an outsider, by virtue of his religion, and the world he saw around his family there, turn the story from simple fictional adventure into near cinematic verisimilitude. Sparked by literature, his imagination is in thrall to questing knights on horseback; Naftali lives this familiar alternative reality of childhood within the difficult surroundings of his life in that uncomfortable time and place.”
MAJA ELLIOTT trained to be a concert pianist at the Guildhall School of Music in London and has performed worldwide. Her music has often been heard on Lyric FM. She combines classical, jazz and ethnic influences with an intuitive flair for improvisation. In presence of President Higgins, she synchronised live piano to a film about the Irish poet Richard Murphy. With Margarita Meklina, Ms. Elliott composed music-to-text and toured in Russia and Sweden. She also sings ethnic and traditional songs and plays the violin. “Maja’s piano playing has touched me. She is so sensitive, holding notes in fearless witness of subtle emotions” (Antony and the Johnsons)