David Bleiman changes nostalgia from a polite turn-off to a word of wonder. He weaves a Scots-Yiddish tartan and wraps around us stories from Spain, Germany and Russia, as well as Scotland, even as he wears ‘a teuch auld Ashkenazi skin’.
His respect for ritual takes us from the Haggadah of rescue from slavery in Egypt to ‘singing with Sasha’ in an Edinburgh synagogue. And there’s a family heritage which lets us hear the cry from a burning barn in Russia, experience Bleiman’s mother’s travels as the ‘shvelbele’ (the little swallow) and feel the wild music and history of Spain and Scotland.
There are simple things here, like the carved yidl mit ’n fidl, the Jew with a fiddle (in ‘Lacquer wood fiddler’). But there are complex things, too, like the ‘duende’, referencing a talk by Federico Garcia Lorca, about spirit, the power of art, the clearing of a throat before performance in ‘Duende’.
This is nostalgia with a difference, the art of making us homesick — yes — but with such a wide understanding of the human home!