For more than two years in the 1950's, avant-garde ethno-musicologist Harry Smith recorded a Lower East Side Rabbi's cantorial music, folk songs and Yiddish story-telling. The Rabbi's eccentric grandson, 82-year-old Lionel Ziprin, is hoping to re-release a condensed version of this material. It's a holy mission for him. Ziprin is a Lower East Side legend who sounds uncannily like the late Lenny Bruce. But, unlike the comedian, Ziprin hangs out at a Lower East Side yeshiva and his life has been a lot wilder.
Reporter Jon Kalish first met Ziprin in 1998 when one of the reporter's elderly Yippie friends introduced him to the man. Kalish did a short radio piece and a newspaper article about Ziprin's rescue of the 15-LP's his grandfather, Rabbi Nuftali Zvi Margolies Abulafia, recorded with the eccentric Harry Smith but knew the story would ultimately make a compelling radio documentary.
Listen to "Rabbi Abulafia's Boxed Set" by Jon Kalish on Jan. 14 at 7 p.m. on KFAI, 90.3 FM Minneapolis. (Photo courtesy of NPR)