Real Music & Real Estate . . .

Yiddishe Cup’s bandleader, Bert Stratton, is Klezmer Guy.

He knows about the band biz and – check this out – the real estate biz, too.

You may not care about the real estate biz. Hey, you may not care about the band biz. (See you.)

This is a blog with a gamy twist. It features tenants with snakes and skunks, and musicians with smoked fish in their pockets.

Stratton has written op-eds for the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Washington Post.



Last month, when Oakwood Club, a Cleveland Heights yekkie (German Jewish) country club, went under, the powers-that-be (charitable foundations, city government, the club’s board of trustees) came to Yiddishe Cup for ideas to reinvent the place.  The machers were considering a Jewish theme park.

Yiddishe Cup said no thanks.  We weren’t going to participate in a Yiddishland Epcot.  Not our thing.  We won’t even play Fiddler on the Roof unless the audience begs.  And they do.  (And we play it.)

The Oakwood Club machers begged Yiddishe Cup to take a second look at the theme park idea.  We did.

The Yiddishland theme vied with the steering committee’s Plan B, called “Oakwood Park, an Oasis for People and Wildlife.”  That plan was just a front for owls, hawks, woodpeckers, songbirds, foxes, flying squirrels and dragonflies.  The old golf course would become a meadow.

Songbirds don’t pay the bills.

A Friday night klezmer shabbat would work.  It would feature a very lite, ecumenical Yiddishe Cup. Yiddishe Cup has a piece — “Friday Night Service-able” — with no words, like a jazz mass.

We’ve done the number a few times.  It’s basically a D-minor drone with a lot of modal improvising on top.  The composition is 45 minutes to an hour.  We’ve had a few listeners/worshippers “fall out,” or faint.

A Yiddishe Cup klezmer shabbat would draw visitors from Columbus, Pittsburgh and Detroit.  And they would want to stay over.  So we would put them up at Oakwood. We would find space.

Beat this: For $450 per person, the out-of-towner gets a Friday night klezmer shabbat (with brisket and fries), the hotel room, and a Saturday morning round-robin tennis tournament with kiddush (sanctification/vino) and coconut bars. Followed by a nap, followed by golf and swimming.

Need an extra day? Take a hike on the Tribute to Reform Rabbis exercise trail.

Sunday afternoon would be Jewish wedding central, featuring the house band, the one and only . . .

Readers’ advisory: This post is made up.  Fiction. Based on the fact Oakwood Club is closing and is for sale.

1 of 2 posts for 2/10/10.  Please see the post below too.

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1 Bill Jones { 02.10.10 at 10:58 am }

Good idea, Bert. However, in land development you’ve always got to think big, right?

So how about building a Jewish Legacy Village. [Developer] Bob Stark will sign on in an instant even if Coral [another developer] would not.

What’s a Jewish Legacy Village? Well it looks like a Disneyesque shtetl but with Cleveland flavor.

Unger’s, Boris, Corky & Lenny’s, Contempo, Frank’s, Lax and Mandel, Trader Joe’s, the Federation, etc. all relocate there. Can you imagine how world-famous that would be? Mind-blowing.

Naturally, in [caterer] Harlan Diamond’s place in this shtetl you would be THE BAND, exclusive. You’d have to sell your grown children for this privilege, but musicians have traditionally done this.

You get the idea anyway.

It is sold to Cleveland Hts. as a way to get the Jewish population to move back, not to mention the synagogues, etc.

2 Adrianne Greenbaum { 02.10.10 at 11:59 am }

Veyt a minint, this IS for real, right???? I hope so!!! Ask Akron to join. But seriously, I hope this wasn’t all just a blog with no hopes of really happening. Get it goin’, Bert!!!!

3 Bert { 02.10.10 at 12:43 pm }

To Adrianne Greenbaum:

This post, “Yiddish Theme Park,” is made up. I’m going to put a “fiction” alert on it right now.

For the record, the other Klezmer Guy posts are true or obvious satire.

Maybe the satire in this post isn’t obvious to all non-Cleveland readers. It certainly helps to know, for instance, Oakwood was the preeminent Cleveland Jewish country club for more than 100 years. Not a lot of Yiddish going down in that place. Ever.

4 John M. Urbancich { 02.10.10 at 2:11 pm }

Hey, Bert….better give up the fiction writing. I do have an old friend who caddied for Jerry Lewis when he played Oakwood. Now he can tell you lots of real stories about the place.

5 Alice { 02.10.10 at 7:46 pm }

Where can I sign up for the $450 weekend special?!

Does that include a pleytse [rubdown with oak-leaf broom] and steam from some hirsute Russian-Turkish guy?

Throw in a high colonic, and I’m there.

6 diddle { 02.11.10 at 11:54 am }



p.s. dood cut the fiction thing.

7 Jay Levan { 02.15.10 at 11:40 am }

This is for real. We need help to make sure that Oakwood stays green.

Please go to and join our Facebook fan page for Oakwood.

Post comments, start discussions, get involved. This will not happen without community involvement. Have a say in what happens to this rare 150 acres.

Go to Give us your info so we can keep in touch and know who is standing with us.

8 Ken Egbert { 02.15.10 at 4:55 pm }

Make it public!

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