Chana Mlotek’s contribution to Jewish music, especially Klezmer music and Yiddish song, is immense - not only as a performer and author, but also (and most importantly) as an archivist, folklorist and researcher.
The ‘Sherlock Holmes of Yiddish Song’ started working for Max Weinreich, one of the founders of the Institute for Jewish Research (YIVO), in 1944. For decades she was the music archivist of the YIVO.
The three volumes of Yiddish Song she compiled together with her husband, Yosl Mlotek, (“Mir trogn a gezang”, “Perl fun yidishn lid”, “Lider fun dor tsu dor”) became standard works. The two Mloteks also wrote a weekly column, “Perl fun yidishn lid” (Pearl of Yiddish Song), for the Yiddish newspaper Forverts. The column was a living archive that can be regarded as an initiative to save Yiddish song. Chana Mlotek was the go-to person for any question about Yiddish songs and cultural parallels. The database in her head is an irretrievable loss to our community, and to the world.
Webcast of her funeral: http://www.idostream.com/
On Chana Mlotek’s biography: http://mlotekfamily.com/id4.html
Short article in the “Forward” on the occasion of being honored for her life’s work preserving Yiddish folklore: http://blogs.forward.com/
Interview with the Yiddish Book Center (2011): https://archive.org/
Photo: Mlotek Family