Song Searcher

Moyshe Beregovsky, musician and scholar, crisscrossed Ukraine from the 1920s on to record the traditional music of Ukrainian Jewry on fragile wax cylinders. With tremendous dedication in the face of the hardships Jews faced in Ukraine and under Soviet rule, Beregovsky saved the musical heritage of centuries-old Yiddish civilization, but ultimately paid for it with his life. “The film helps us understand and appreciate [Beregovsky’s] remarkable — and tragic — life’s achievement,” says NYU Professor Gennady Estraikh. Contains Holocaust material.

We recently learned from the Jewish Public Library in Montreal that the film’s primary financial sponsor is Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich. To quote from their post, “His name appears prominently at the start and end of the film and is featured on some of the film’s promotional materials. According to many, Abramovich is one of Vladimir Putin’s closest associates, named by imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny as “one of the key enablers and beneficiaries of Russian kleptocracy.” At the same time, Abramovich has used his enormous wealth to support a variety of worthwhile endeavors with some of the world’s most renowned Jewish institutions and in support of a range of Jewish cultural projects; this film is one small example of this activity.”

We decided to continue presenting the film, Song Searcher, until midnight, March 14. The story of Moshe Beregovsky and his heroic efforts to record and save the music of Ukrainian Jewry needs to be told. The Jewish Federation of North America has raised more than $24 million over the past two weeks in support of the people of Ukraine and has brought thousands of Ukrainians to Israel in the past few days. To make a donation in support of the Jewish community in Ukraine, click here.

Available: March 8-14
Length: 82 minutes
Genre: Documentary, Biography, Women Directors
Director: Elena Yakovich
Country: Ukraine
Year: 2018
Language: Russian, Yiddish, with English subtitles

Click here to view a pre-recorded Zoom Chat about the film Song Searcher, courtesy of the Miami Jewish Film Festival.