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Announcing the Brayndl Prize

In honor of the digitization of the YIVO Yiddish Folk Song Project, which was designed by Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett (aka Brayndl), Inside the Yiddish Folksong announces an annual prize for an essay that analyzes the performance and/or transmission of the Yiddish folksong.


The YYFP blazed new trails in this field 50 years ago. Rising interest in the topic inspired our group to encourage new thinking with this prize.


Essays should be 10,000-20,000 words and be submitted by September 15, 2024. The Brayndl Prize consists of a $100 cash award, an historic Jewish cookbook from the BKG collection,  and publication at or in a peer-reviewed journal.


Michael Alpert

Zev Feldman

Itzik Gottesman

Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett

Ethel Raim

Pete Rushefsky

Mark Slobin

Josh Waletzky


Questions? Contact Clara at

The 2023 Recipient of the Brayndl Prize was Isabel Frey for her article "Sharpening the Ear: Postvernacular listening to field recordings of Yiddish folksongs." Congratulations, Isabel! 

Abstract: This article is an ethnographic study of the contemporary pedagogical approaches to Yiddish folksongs, focusing on the engagement of contemporary Yiddish singers in singing lessons with archival field recordings of Yiddish folksingers from postwar North America. It introduces the concept of “postvernacular listening,” a listening practice that emphasizes the vocal and sonorous qualities of the performance style heard in these recordings, rather than listening for the purpose of transmitting text and melody. I argue that this shift represents a broader change in the transmission and reception of Yiddish folksongs within the global Yiddish music community, resulting from the loss of vernacular fluency and oral tradition, towards new forms of aural and oral transmission in a postvernacular pedagogical context. Drawing on ethnomusicology and sound studies, this ethnography shows that listening to field recordings is not merely an educational tool but as a deliberate cultural practice that encapsulates political and ethical dimensions, reflecting the complex negotiations involved in contemporary Yiddish cultural transmission.

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