A Klezmer Band That Packs a Feminist Punch

“Women’s voices have been so contained, so sidelined in traditional Jewish culture, that we wanted to get together and shout from the rooftops,” says violinist Alicia Svigals, of the all-women’s klezmer band Mikveh. Named in celebration of the traditional Jewish women’s monthly ritual immersion, the group began in 1998, when Svigals, bassist Nicki Parrott, clarinetist Margot Leverette, Yiddishist singer Adrienne Cooper, and accordianist Lauren Brody performed together at a benefit organized by Eve Ensler, author of The Vagina Monologues. Their eponymous debut album Mikveh (Traditional Crossroads) opens with the beautiful “Royz royz” about the subject of forbidden love, and goes on to tackle issues like spousal abuse and the quiet grief of miscarriage. The CD includes a song about a daughter’s bat mitzvah and a version of the traditional psalm “Eyshes Khayil” (A Woman of Valor), celebrating women’s work.