Shortly after its formation in 1948, Israel decided to make Hebrew the national language and to shun immigrant tongues like Yiddish. Throughout her career, Alberstein has fought this decision. She not only sings in Yiddish, she also collects and promotes Yiddish folklore, partly because people like Chaya spoke this language. She has even produced a documentary about elderly Yiddish composers and poets living in Israel.
Israel's first lady of song has led a remarkable career, with tours that have spanned the globe, six top Israeli recording awards (analogous to Grammys), and a continuing streak of critically acclaimed records. Chava Alberstein performs at Rackham Auditorium on Saturday, November 8.
[Originally published in November, 2003.]