Wild Burning Rage and Song: Replies to Scottsboro

For the Public
Tuesday, March 12, 2024
6:00 PM - 8:00 PM EDT

Live in Person

Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History

101 S. Independence Mall East, Philadelphia

$18 General Admission

$13 Penn Community and Weitzman Museum Members


World Premiere 

This concert/lecture brings to life a twentieth-century world of Jewish responses to the pervasive climate of race prejudice that gave birth to the Scottsboro trials—and injustices to come—through a performance of Yiddish and English poems from the era newly set to music.

The Scottsboro Trials stand among the most renowned miscarriages of justice in the history of American jurisprudence. Beginning in 1931 with a false accusation of rape against nine Black teenagers, the case went on to invigorate a nascent Civil Rights movement, earn the international support of the Communist Party, and establish itself as a watchword among various strands of the American Left. It also inspired reaction from the contemporary world of arts and letters, most famously by poets Langston Hughes and Richard Wright and novelist Harper Lee, who adapted its events in To Kill a Mockingbird.

The international, politically oriented Yiddish intelligentsia of the 1930s was no less galvanized, producing a body of creative responses that passionately took up the themes of the trial, juxtaposing its American injustices with diverse images, tropes and language imbued with their own distinct histories of oppression. These writings are the basis of Wild Burning Rage and Song: Replies to Scottsboro.

This world premiere performance features Professor Amelia Glaser, author of Songs in Dark Times: Yiddish Poetry of Struggle from Scottsboro to Palestine (Harvard UP), composer/vocalists Heather Klein and Anthony Russell, and composer/pianist Uri Schreter. 


Amelia Glaser

Amelia Glaser

Amelia Glaser is professor of literature at UC San Diego, where she is the chair in Judaic Studies. A scholar and translator of Ukrainian, Russian, and Yiddish literature, she is the author of Jews and Ukrainians in Russia’s Literary Borderlands (Northwestern UP, 2012) and Songs in Dark Times: Yiddish Poetry of Struggle from Scottsboro to Palestine (Harvard UP, 2020), the editor of Stories of Khmelnytsky: Literary Legacies of the 1648 Ukrainian Cossack Uprising (Stanford UP, 2015), and, with Steven Lee, Comintern Aesthetics (University of Toronto Press, 2020); and the translator of Proletpen: America’s Rebel-Yiddish Poets (University of Wisconsin Press, 2005) and, with Yuliya Ilchuk, A Crash Course in Molotov Cocktails: Poems by Halyna Kruk (Arrowsmith Press, 2023). 

Anthony Russell

Anthony Russell

Anthony Russell is a vocalist, composer, and arranger specializing in music in the Yiddish language. His work in Ashkenazi Jewish musical forms led to an exploration of his own ethnic roots through the research, arrangement, and performance of a hundred years of African American music, resulting in the album Convergence (2018), a collaboration with klezmer consort Veretski Pass exploring the sounds and themes of one hundred years of African American and Ashkenazi Jewish music. Inspired by an ethnographic trip to Belarus and Poland as a Wallis Annenberg Helix Fellow (2016–17), Anthony formed a duo, Tsvey Brider (Two Brothers), with accordionist and pianist Dmitri Gaskin for the composition and performance of original music set to Yiddish poetry. Their recent release, Kosmopolitn, features their settings of twentieth-century Yiddish modernist poetry for voice and string ensemble. A past Hadar Rising Song Fellow (2021–22) and a present Mandel Institute Cultural Leadership Fellow (2023–25), Anthony has expanded his work into cultural activism through collaboration with the Workers Circle and as an essayist in a number of publications and sites including The Forward, Tablet Magazine, JTA, PROTOCOLS, Full Stop Magazine, Ayin Press, and Jewish Currents.

Heather Klein

Heather Klein

Heather Klein follows her passion for Yiddish song and bringing stories to life. She has most recently been seen singing in the film “Burning off the Page” (San Francisco Jewish Film Festival), on PBS.com with the documentary “Harbor from the Holocaust,” working with the Folksbiene Theatre in New York City, and composing and acting for the Yiddish Theatre Ensemble in Berkeley. Heather has also worked with Sundance (MA), Music Theatre Group (NYC), YIVO (NYC), Ashkenaz Festival (Toronto), and the Yiddish Book Center (MA) as well as in Hungary and Israel, and extensively in the Bay Area and Canada. Klein has premiered many Yiddish roles and produced and recorded four albums. Her most recent albums were for her show “Shanghai Angel"—which Klein wrote, produced, and composed—about her grandmother’s journey from Nazi Europe to China and then to California, as well as “Rooted Lullaby,” an album with original trilingual lullabies. Klein will be recreating her show “Shanghai Angel” in 2024 at Angel Island, the former immigration station near San Francisco where her grandmother was detained in the 1940s. Heather works as the cantorial soloist at Temple Sinai in Las Vegas and produces the Yiddish Las Vegas festival.

Uri Schreter

Uri Schreter

Uri Schreter is an interdisciplinary musicologist, composer, keyboardist, and filmmaker. He was born in Tel Aviv and studied at Tel Aviv University, where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in composition and musicology and a Master’s degree in history. He is currently pursuing a PhD in musicology at Harvard University, where he is researching postwar Jewish music and politics. Outside of academia, Uri has collaborated on music, theater, and film with numerous artists in Jewish culture and beyond, including Mike Burstyn, Shane Baker, and Judy Bressler.


Co-presented with the Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History. 

We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Klatt Family and the Harry Stern Family Foundation.