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Posted by Maureen Turner, guest blogger of Yiddish Book Center

The Yiddish Book Center’s annual Community Open House regularly draws visitors from across New England and beyond—and this year’s celebration promises an especially enticing lineup for all ages.
The Center, in Amherst, Massachusetts, hosts its fourth annual Community Open House on Sunday, October 19. The free, day-long event includes a lively concert by the klezmer fusion band Yale Strom & Hot Pstromi, a visit by story performer Mark Binder, and the opening of an exhibit of work by the important but long-overlooked Soviet artist Felix Lembersky.
Yale Strom & Hot Pstromi—who describe their sound as “a fusion of traditional klezmer, new Jewish music, Gypsy, khasidic, world beat, and Balkan music”—have an inventive style, and are known for delivering passionate, energetic performances. The band will take the stage at 2 p.m.
Yale Strom 2007

Photo: Yale Strom & Hot Pstromi

Earlier on in the day, author Mark Binder will perform humorous stories of “Life in Chelm,” portrayed in many traditional Jewish stories as a town of fools, whose solutions to problems are often ridiculous and always entertaining. Binder has written numerous stories and books about Chelm, including A Hanukah Present!, a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award for Family Literature. He’ll perform at 10:30 a.m.
At 11:30 AM, the visiting exhibit “Felix Lembersky: Soviet Form, Jewish Context” will open with a talk by the artist’s granddaughter, Yelena Lembersky. Lembersky, whose emotionally powerful art combines realism with avant-garde sensibilities, was recognized as a young man as one of the best of his generation of artists.

Photo: One of Felix Lembersky’s works

But for most of his career, his work was suppressed for his refusal to adhere to a mandated socialist realist style that glorified the state, and for his inclusion of banned subject matter, including Jewish themes. The exhibit will be at the Center’s Brechner Gallery through March 2015.
The Community Open House will also include a welcome and update from Aaron Lansky, the Yiddish Book Center’s founder and president, at 1:30 p.m., and guided tours of the Center at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Visitors will be to buy food from Yosi Kitchen’s falafel tent, too, which will be serving its signature Mediterranean fare.
Yiddish Center COVER

Photo: Yiddish Book Center entrance

The Yiddish Book Center, at 1021 West Street in Amherst, is handicapped accessible. For more information about the Community Open House, visit or call 413-256-4900.
Maureen Turner is communications coordinator at the Yiddish Book Center.