Welcome 5775


Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech haolam, shehechehyanu, v’kiy’manu, v’higianu laz’man hazeh.

Our praise to You, Eternal our God, Sovereign of all: for giving us life, sustaining us, and enabling us to reach this season.

Richard & I have an incredible amount to be grateful for as we enter the Jewish Year 5775. Two years ago, when we celebrated our first Rosh Hashannah in Brooklyn, we had just moved, and after 35 years in Chicago, we felt like “strangers in a strange land.”

Two years later, we have been embraced by the members of Congregation Beth Emeth, and we have many new friends, neighbors,and colleagues. We have also reconnected with old friends and relatives who have either lived here (meaning the East Coast) all along or preceded us in our transition from the Windy City.

At the same time, we have kept in touch with many of our wonderful Chicago friends who were there to greet us when we arrived for a visit in mid-August. And through the miracle of cyberspace, we have also kept up with other friends all around the world with whom our paths have crossed at one time or another.

We have our health. We have each other. And we both have satisfying work which allows us to continue to contribute to things larger than ourselves. We are blessed.

Wishing you and yours a happy healthy New Year, Jan & Rich



May we hold lovingly in our thoughts those who suffer from tyranny, subjection, cruelty, and injustice, and work every day towards the alleviation of their suffering.

May we recognize our solidarity with the stranger, outcast, downtrodden, abused, and deprived, that no human being be treated as “other,” that our common humanity weaves us together in one fabric of mutuality, one garment of destiny.

May we pursue the Biblical prophet’s vision of peace, that we might live harmoniously with each other and side by side, respecting differences, cherishing diversity, with no one exploiting the weak, each living without fear of the other, each revering Divinity in every human soul.

May we struggle against institutional injustice, free those from oppression and contempt, act with purity of heart and mind, despising none, defrauding none, hating none, cherishing all, honoring every child of God, every creature of the earth.

May the Jewish people, the state of Israel, and all peoples know peace in this New Year, and may we nurture kindness and love everywhere.

The Fiddler © Michele Pulver Feldman. Posted with permission from the artist.

Click HERE for Rabbi Rosove’s Prayer for a New Year.

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Celebrating FIDDLER’s 50th!

JLH2014September 22, 2014: And the sun rose like it was any other “normal” day, oblivious to the fact that I have been working towards this particular day for a decade.

So here it is, September 22, 2014, the 50th Anniversary of the day Fiddler on the Roof made it’s Broadway debut, and I now have an eBook live on Kindle :-)

No, I wasn’t able to do all of the things I wanted to do by this date–who knew way back when that I would be leaving Chicago & moving to Brooklyn in 2012–but it is a start. And I live in hope of publishing a full print book timed to May 13, 2016, which will be Sholem Aleichem’s 100th Yahrzeit.

Early in my consulting career, one of my mentors said to me: “Jan, when you work for me, your work must either be on time or perfect. And since nothing is ever ‘perfect,’ I suggest you shoot for ‘on time.’”

In this case, I am on time, and for right now that is good enough for me. My father always said: “Jan, you just keep on keepin’ on.” I will, Daddy, I will.

So before we all move on “from Gold to Diamond,” one last thanks to so many of you who helped me realize my dream.

Wishing you and yours a happy, healthy new year,


Shannah Tovah to All!

Tevye’s Daughters: No Laughing Matter (with 26 illustrations) is now available on Amazon:


Cartoon: © Sharon Rosenzweig

Cover Design: © Melissa A. Wilks

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My Kinda Town

SophieSlidesTodah Rabah, Sheynem Dank, and Huge Thanks to everyone who came to Northbrook Public Library on 8/13, Harold Washington Library Center on 8/14, and/or Wilmette Public Library on 8/19 to hear the sixth in my annual series of lectures on Fiddler on the Roof for the Chicago YIVO Society’s “Summer Festival of Yiddish Culture.”

This year’s lecture was called My Fiddler: From Grodna to Broadway in honor of my grandmother–my mother’s mother–Sophie Slotnick Hecht.

Upon reflection, I have finally realized that my Gramma Heckie laid the foundation for all of the “traditions” which guide me in my own life today while she chopped the gefilte fish, ground the liver, and fried up stacks and stacks of latkes.

My Gramma Heckie  didn’t exactly “teach me to cook,” but she did let me sit there  in her kitchen while she slaved away on behalf of our family, and the things she taught me are beyond measure.

To all my friends in Metro Chicago: I love you all, I miss you all, and I am tremendously grateful for all of your unflagging encouragement and support!!!


Click here to view my Metro Chicago presentation as a pdf –> 14Aug11YIVO

Thanks also to Jeff Marden who worked so hard behind-the-scenes to get the word out :-)



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WPL: Thank You!

Todah Rabah, Sheynem Dank, and Huge Thanks to everyone at Wilmette Public Library who helped to make my 8/19 lecture possible and to everyone who came to cheer me on :-)

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HWLC: Thank You!

Todah Rabah, Sheynem Dank, and Huge Thanks to everyone at Harold Washington Library Center who helped to make my 8/14 lecture possible and to everyone who came to cheer me on :-)

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NPL: Thank You!

Todah Rabah, Sheynem Dank, and Huge Thanks to everyone at Northbrook Public Library who helped to make my 8/13 lecture possible and to everyone who came to cheer me on :-)

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How FIDDLER has become…

HeaderCropJUFOSincere thanks to Paul Wieder of the JUF News for this new post about my August lecture series for the Chicago YIVO Society’s annual Summer Festival of Yiddish Culture :-)


September 22, 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the first Broadway performance of Fiddler on the Roof.

But first, in August, Jan Lisa Huttner will present her new lecture on the musical. The talk will be part of Chicago YIVO Society’s 2014 Summer Festival of Yiddish Culture. (Light Opera Works, in Evanston, also is staging a revival in August to honor the musical’s milestone.)

Since “My Fiddler: From Grodna to Brooklyn” is her sixth annual presentation on the subject, she says, “The topic is: Why has all this mattered so much to me?” She will explain her personal reasons for spending so many years transfixed by all the sources, synergies, and subtle nuances of this great theatrical classic.

Her previous talks have covered the female characters in the story, like Yente and Hodel, and the musical’s choreographer, Jerome Robbins. She has also covered the musical extensively on her blog, Second City Tzivi (titled after her Hebrew name), as well as JUF News and other publications.

She explains her lecture’s subtitle, “From Grodna to Brooklyn” by-how else-telling a story. “That’s what my Bubbie used to say when I’d ask, ‘Where are you from, Bubbie?’ She’d reply, ‘I was born in Grodna in Russia-Poland.’ That always made me laugh. Where is that? Since this is my personal story, I’d like to stick with ‘Grodna,'” she adds, noting that it has been spelled every way from “Grodno” to “Hrodna” over the centuries.

Huttner’s interest was sparked, she says, not by the stories themselves, but by Chagall’s painting of a fiddler on a roof, titled The Green Musician. She began to investigate all aspects of the Fiddler story, from early Yiddish films, to the stage musical and the movie version thereof… from the source, Shalom Aleichem’s Tevye stories, to the author’s own life.

She is especially mindful of the differences between the short story, stage, and film versions, noting how they shift the story’s focus on various characters and even its overall message. For one, Huttner asserts that the main character is not Tevye, whom she relegates to narrator status, but his daughter Hodel, who is “the only one to leave Anatevka, and is not driven out.” For another difference, Yente is not even in the original stories. Her conclusion? “There is no one Fiddler.”

Huttner also remarks on the events in the world, especially the Jewish world, during the various incarnations of the story. The 1939 Yiddish film version, for instance, was released “in the shadow of Kristallnacht.” Further, the Tevye stories themselves reflect the changes in the life and times of their author. The eight stories are published together now, but were in fact written over a span of 20 years.

Huttner notes that she has been studying Fiddler for 15 years now, reading everything from performance reviews to scholarly analyses to biographies of all major artists involved. Not surprisingly, she notes that her own perceptions of the tale have changed over time, due to events in her own life and deepening familiarity with the plot, characters, and background. She summarizes this revelation by quoting the movie itself: “The more I looked, the more I saw.”


“My Fiddler: From Grodna to Brooklyn” will be given three times: on Aug. 13 at the Northbrook Public Library; on Aug. 14 at the Harold Washington Library; and Aug. 19 at the Wilmette Public Library. Huttner blogs on Fiddler and other Jewish films at http://secondcitytzivi.com/.

Click HERE to see the complete schedule for this year’s Chicago YIVO Society Summer Festival of Yiddish Culture!


Posted: 7/28/2014 2:27:54 PM

Photo Credit: Gaylen Ross (7/11/14)

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