In the last couple of years before my emigration from the USSR, I used to frequent the sole Rostov synagogue. Not out of any sort of religious interest, mind you, but purely for social reasons. Perestroika brought some measure of respite to formerly suppressed ethnic identities within the empire, and seemingly every Jew in the city (I am exaggerating, of course; even though Jews were a tiny minority where I grew up, there were still probably around ten thousand or so in the million-strong metropolis) came to Shabbat services every Friday. Youngsters my age were numerous and keen – after all, we were all expected to find a “good Jewish girl” to marry.
It was not the first time that I was introduced to Jewish music, but it was definitely the period of time when I was most exposed to it. Yiddish folk songs played regularly in the background during the receptions at the synagogue, Jewish folk performing groups suddenly started openly touring the country and giving concerts at major venues…
Funny how I came to America and ceased being a Jew, on account of not being observant. I became a Russian, something that eluded me in the country of my birth.
I did keep the affinity for Yiddish songs, though.
Here is one of the most well-known ones. I actually prefer Barry Sisters’ version, but I am lukewarm to the type of slideshow in the available video. The best live version that I could find comes from a benefit concert to honor one of the stalwarts of Soviet singing industry – he is the guy in the striped blazer center-stage.