The Rabbi Samuel S. and A. Irma Cohon Memorial Foundation has named Henry H. Sapoznik of New York as the recipient of the 2005 Cohon Award for achievement benefiting Klal Yisroel, the total Jewish people.

A leader of the remarkable Klezmer revival, an accomplished music historian, author, film composer, record and radio producer and performer of traditional Yiddish and American music, Mr. Sapoznik employs his unique talents and background to bring Jewish musical and cultural tradition to a new generation.

Before earning his degree in Ethnomusicology from City University of New York, Henry Sapoznik was educated in the Lubavitch and Chaim Berlin Yeshivos. He started his musical career at age 6, singing in the choir of his father Cantor Zindel Sapoznik of blessed memory. Rovno-born Hazzan Zindel had sung with the famed cantor Gershon Sirota, and with the Kusevitsky brothers before settling in New York’s Lower East Side where he officiated at Beth Midrash Hagadol. Henry grew up with a knowledge of not only the Yiddish language but of the entire culture that produced it.
He established the Max and Frieda Weinstein Archives of Recorded Sound at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, where he served as its first director from 1982-1994. There he documented Yiddish recordings made from 1895 to 1950, and produced the first reissue of some period Yiddish recordings. As an outgrowth of that work, in 1985 he started “KlezKamp, the Yiddish folk arts Program.” Some 15,000 people of all ages have experienced KlezKamp, where older artists and young players come together to make Jewish music. Himself a dedicated performer, Sapoznik organized a band called Kapelye in 1979, and that group played in the motion picture The Chosen. His current group is a trio he calls (not the elders but) the Youngers of Zion.

His 1999 book “Klezmer! Jewish Music from the Old World to Our World” won the 2000 Deems Taylor ASCAP award for excellence in music scholarship. Recent years saw Sapoznik produce a 10-week series of historic Yiddish radio broadcasts, NPR’s “Yiddish Radio Project,” which played to an estimated 13 million people per week, and won the Peabody Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism for 2002.

He also produced the CD Mysteries of the Sabbath, which featured early 20th century cantorial recordings including one by his father. At the 2005 KlezKamp he recorded the octogenarian Russian Klezmer artist German Goldenshteyn, and produced a CD of his work. He also composed the score for the acclaimed documentary film The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg, and is now working on a documentary on that famous place and time in American Jewish history called the Catskills. This year he is nominated for Grammys for Best Album Notes, Historical Album and Box Design for his Anthology of pioneering Country Music performer Charlie Poole for Sony Columbia Legacy.

The Cohon Award is presented annually. Recommendations and applications are accepted year round. For more information, visit the website www.cohonaward.com.