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. So maybe he’s really Klezmer Landlord.

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 New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post.



A tenant called my father, Toby, and said, “It’s 54 degrees in this apartment. I’m cold.  I can’t even take a bath.”

“We’ll get you some heat,” my dad said.  Old buildings are hard to heat; some suites boil while others freeze.  Hopefully, the sun would come out tomorrow and raise all apts.

A second tenant called. She said her rent would be late.  I answered that call. I said OK, basically.

Toby said to me, “You’ve got to get on them sometimes.”

“I quit,” I said.

“Go ahead and quit.  If you want to get temperamental on me, quit.” Toby didn’t raise his voice. I wasn’t worth histrionics.

“I’m out of here,” I said.

“Where to?”

Good question.

I went to the Cleveland Clinic to a headache specialist. He said I should drink more alcohol, and if that didn’t work, try biofeedback.

Benny — a building manager — said I should put a cold potato on my head. He said, “Put the potato in a refrigerator, cut the potato into pieces, and put them in a cloth around your head. It sucks the swelling right out.”

I went to the JCC for a massage and tried the whirlpool.

My dad died from leukemia.  My then-5-year-old son said, “You won’t see Grandpa Toby again.  Never!  He’s dead.”

My headache suddenly went away.

Now I had a real headache — running the business.



This happened last month . . .


I was a judge at Cleveland’s Funniest Rabbi contest at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage. I knew three of the five rabbis. One rabbi had hired Yiddishe Cup for various temple functions. Another recently hired Yiddishe Cup for a simcha. A third rabbi religiously books Yiddishe Cup for Chanukah.

Was I biased? Was I on the take?


The rabbis told jokes in front of 250 paying customers. The judges — three of us — made public comments and rated the rabbis. Afterward, an audience member said to me, “You were very nice.”

Why not be nice? It’s petrifying to tell jokes in front of 250 people. Besides, the rabbis were raising money — for the Maltz Museum?  (For me?)

I stocked-piled interesting adjectives in advance. My arsenal: droll, gut-busting (didn’t use that one), cheery, sharp, zany, wacky, witty and perturbing.

Nobody was perturbing, unfortunately.

I gave the highest rating — a 10 — to the rabbi who eventually won. Turns out he wasn’t even a rabbi. And I didn’t know him. (He owes me a gig.)  The winner was Kiva Shtull, a retired ER doctor, a mohel and the spiritual leader of Congregation Shir Shalom, Bainbridge Township. He got wry, droll and zany.

He’s a mohel with a sharp sense of humor.  Worth watching:


More funny. Benyamin Bresky cornered Yiddishe Cup for an interview on Israel National Radio. The interview begins with Yiddishe Cup’s version of “Essen,” which Ben declares “the funniest thing I’ve ever heard.” Click here.

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1 Bill Jones { 03.06.13 at 11:08 am }

Bert, Cannot thank you enough for doing a great public service by making the video of Kiva Shtull’s monologue available. Couldn’t agree with you more on Kiva’s winning ways. Now for the life of me, I cannot remember Rabbi Shtull, Kiva’s father, having a great sense of humor, but apparently he must have, for Kiva is great.

2 marc { 03.06.13 at 1:50 pm }

Wow. That mohel is really funny. He has a great delivery.
Some of his material seems original some of it is retreads but he puts it all together in a nice package. I’d give him a 10 too.

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