Avram and His Accordion

Presented by

Abe Goldstien


Inspired by children’s book Mendel’s Accordion written by Heidi Smith Hyde and illustrated by Johanna Van Der Sterre, accordion player Abe Goldstien tells his own story of rediscovering his culture through music.

The story begins with a young boy raised in the Orthodox Jewish tradition in upstate New York. If wearing a yarmulke (skull cap) and tallit katan (prayer shawl undergarment) isn’t enough to make him different than other children in his school, Avram decides to play Jewish music on the accordion, playing with older musicians for various Jewish events in his community.

When Avram moves away from home for college, he begins to separate himself from the customs, laws, traditions, and music of his Jewish upbringing. One day in his forties, Avram hears a radio broadcast about Yiddish (Eastern European Jewish) music and is immediately connected to his heritage once again. He gets out his book of Jewish music and organizes a klezmer (Yiddish music) band that brings this music back to life.

Goldstien incorporates Yiddish tunes and explains elements of the Jewish culture as he shares his story. It is truly an entertaining and educational experience about many lost cultures — accordion playing, Yiddishkeit, and klezmer music.  In the end, participants realize Avram is indeed Abe!

The moral to the story — never forget your roots, regardless of how strange they may appear.

Workshop Details


Eastern Europe; Jewish Culture


Social Studies, Music, Storytelling



Standard Length

45 min

Room Setup

Supplies/Equipment Needed:

Similar Workshops