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In 1983, Lori Lippitz founded the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band.  In 1994, she established THE KLEZMER MUSIC FOUNDATION in order to keep klezmer music alive and flourishing in Chicagoland and the Midwest through performance, education, and outreach.

The goals of the Foundation are:

  • preserving our music and dance heritage for future generations.

  • reaching out to seniors, school children, and other audiences who would not otherwise have the opportunity to see live performances.

  • being musical ambassadors to the community and the world through collaboration in the arts.

  • sharing and teaching Jewish culture to the broader community.

Mission Statement

The mission of the Klezmer Music Foundation is to revive, stimulate, support, and renew the tradition of klezmer music through live performances and educational programming. 

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Junior Klezmer Orchestra

The Junior Klezmer Orchestra has inspired young musicians to learn Yiddish and Klezmer music since 1994. The orchestra, comprising several dozen Middle and High School students, has performed in festivals, libraries and for senior citizens. Many graduates have gone on to careers in music, and some have started their own Klezmer bands.


Project Summaries

Maxwell Street Klezmer Band

The Maxwell Street Klezmer Band is a steward of the joyous dances and haunting melodies that embody the “Jewish soul music” called klezmer. Their energetic musical fusion of Eastern European, Yiddish, and gypsy styles tells stories of human emotions, the joy and sorrow common to people the world over.






Salaam-Shalom Music Project

The Salaam-Shalom Music Project reaches out to professional Arabic musicians to explore the music of our combined Jewish, Christian and Muslim roots. A musical message of good will and harmony comes through concerts in which traditional music from all backgrounds is shared and celebrated.


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Programs for Schools and Senior Centers

Concerts, lectures and workshops are offered to non-profit groups such as inner-city schools and homes for the elderly. Musicians give workshops on Klezmer and Yiddish music at libraries, synagogues and other venues. Master musicians teach about Jewish culture, seeding the community while nurturing cross-cultural education and good will.


Congregational Klezmer Bands

The Maxwell Street Klezmer Band musicians assist several Chicagoland congregations in teaching members the music and the history of Klezmer. These congregations now have their own Klezmer house bands.



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New Musical Productions

The Whole Megillah: The Story of The Yiddish Theatre covers the moment of its birth in Rumania in 1876, to its flowering in New York's Lower East Side in the early twentieth century. It’s an amazing story, full of twists and turns that are – like Yiddish theatre itself – sometimes outrageous, sometimes poignant, but always melodramatic. This multimedia presentation with live music was created by Charles Troy, America's most acclaimed dramatic musical theatre historian, and features music from the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band.










The Yiddish Arts Ensemble

The Yiddish Arts Ensemble, a troupe led by writer and choreographer Lynn Shapiro in collaboration with Maxwell Street, scores and performs as a family-friendly ensemble. Their production of “ Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins” and original productions like

“Ishkabibl!” introduce children to Yiddish stories in English with klezmer music and wit.


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