Yiddish Glory: The Lost Songs of World War II

In the midst of World War II ethnomusicologist Moisei Beregovsky led a group of scholars who discovered songs written by Jewish Red Army soldiers, refugees, victims, and survivors of Ukrainian ghettos and camps. These were people whose voices are rarely heard in reconstructing history; none were professional writers, poets, or musicians, but nevertheless all were unwillingly at the center of the most important historical event of the 20th century and attempted to make sense of the horrors through music.

The researchers were arrested during Stalin’s anti-Jewish purge following the war. The songs they’d collected were thought to be destroyed until discovered in unmarked boxes stored in the archives of the Vernadsky National Library of Ukraine in the 1990s. On a trip to Ukraine in the early 2000s Yiddish Professor Anna Shternshis first encountered these fragile documents and recognized them as some of the most poignant and historically significant documents of World War II. Many were first-hand, grassroots testimonies of Nazi atrocities against Jews, detailing brutal massacres at Babi Yar and others places in Ukraine. These raw emotional ballads convey pain, despair, hope, humor, courage, resistance, and revenge.

Artist Psoy Korolenko and Professor Shternshis subsequently undertook a remarkable collaboration that aimed to bring the songs to life for the first time in decades. Few of the archival documents had their melodies preserved; most were simply lyrics written on small scraps of paper. Korolenko engaged in “musical archaeology” by analyzing the scarce supplementary notes, contextualizing the lyrics, and employing his prodigious imagination to create or adapt music for the texts. In the UCSD-TV program Yiddish Glory: The Lost Songs of World War II, Korolenko performs several songs while Professor Shternshis describes the grim context in which they were created.

To help gain wider recognition for the songs a distinguished ensemble of soloists from the worlds of classical, folk and jazz joined with five vocalists and five conservatory-trained instrumentalists to record Korolenko’s adaptations. The result of this three-year long process was the album Yiddish Glory, released in 2018. The album is not just a remarkable musical achievement but also a work of historical and sociological importance. It is a time capsule that reveals how Jewish men, women, and children fought against fascism, strove against all odds to save their families, and in their final moments chose to reveal their hopes and dreams through music.

For the first time since the war the public could hear the voices of Soviet Jews who would otherwise have been lost to history, silenced by Hitler and Stalin.

Watch Yiddish Glory: The Lost Songs of World War II with Anna Shternshis and Psoy Korolenko.

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Radiation Oncology

Cancer treatments are advancing at an astounding pace, with newer therapies providing better outcomes, longer life, and greater chance for cure. Radiation therapy uses carefully targeted doses of high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells without damaging the surrounding healthy tissue. The goal is to use high-dose X-rays to remove the cancer, keep it from spreading, or improve patients’ quality of life by relieving pain and other symptoms.

Radiation therapy plays an essential role in the treatment of many cancers and innovations in radiation treatments have similarly led to improved outcomes in both survival and quality of life.

In this series, UCSF radiation oncologists explore the latest advances in the science, technology, and treatment of cancer using modern radiation therapy.

Browse more programs in Innovations In Cancer Treatment: Radiation Therapy in the Modern Era.

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When the Drug is Alive

Antimicrobial resistance is one of the most pressing global health issues of the 21st Century. In 2016, epidemiologist Steffanie Strathdee was involved in a remarkable case where she and her colleagues revived a hundred year old forgotten cure – bacteriophage therapy – which saved her husband’s life from a deadly superbug infection.

Strathdee and her husband Tom Patterson were vacationing in Egypt when Tom came down with a stomach bug. Steffanie dosed Tom with an antibiotic and expected the discomfort to pass. Instead, his condition turned critical.

Local doctors at an Egyptian clinic, an emergency medevac team and then a German hospital failed to cure him. By the time Tom reached the world-class medical center at UC San Diego, where both he and Steffanie worked, bloodwork revealed why modern medicine was failing: Tom was fighting one of the most dangerous, antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the world.

Frantic, Strathdee combed through research old and new and came across phage theory: the idea that the right virus, aka “the perfect predator,” can kill even the most lethal bacteria. Phage treatment had fallen out of favor almost 100 years ago, after antibiotic use went mainstream. Now, with time running out, she appealed to phage researchers all over the world for help and together they achieved a major medical breakthrough.

Since that experience, UC San Diego faculty have used intravenous phage therapy to successfully treat superbug infections in over a dozen other compassionate use cases, including the first use of a genetically modified phage cocktail. In 2018, the Center for Innovative Phage Applications and Therapeutics (IPATH) was launched at UC San Diego, the first dedicated phage therapy center in North America.

In this presentation, Strathdee shares the details of her family’s story and discusses ethical issues related to treating bacterial infections with viruses, where the drug is ‘alive.’

Watch When the Drug is Alive: Treating Superbug Infections with Bacteriophage Therapy.

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Criminal Justice Reform in California

For decades California’s incarceration rate mirrored that of the nation, increasing five-fold between the early 1970s and the mid-2000s. Since 2010 California has slowly turned away from mass incarceration through a series of criminal justice reforms, including changing criminal sentencing and law enforcement practices to reduce prison populations.

What has California done right in this transformation, and where has it fallen short? What would a truly just criminal justice system look like? UC Berkeley’s Steven Raphael looks at the last decade of prison reform including reducing overcrowding, the impacts of proposition 47 and the effects of racial disproportionality in criminal justice involvement.

Raphael is a Professor of Public Policy at UC Berkeley and holds the James D. Marver Chair at the Goldman School of Public Policy. His research focuses on the economics of low-wage labor markets, housing, and the economics of crime and corrections. His most recent research focuses on the social consequences of the large increases in U.S. incarceration rates and racial disparities in criminal justice outcomes. Raphael also works on immigration policy, research questions pertaining to various aspects of racial inequality, the economics of labor unions, social insurance policies, homelessness, and low-income housing.

Watch Criminal Justice Reform in California.

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Fighting Cancer with Your Immune System

New findings on the relationship between the immune system and cancer is bringing a new era of treatment for patients and opening up interdisciplinary collaboration for researchers and clinicians.

In this engaging conversation, Ezra Cohen, MD, and Judy Varner, PhD, highlight emerging research and clinical strategies using precision immunotherapy and stem cell techniques. Dr. Cohen shares patient success stories from his work at the Moores Cancer Center while Dr. Varner takes a deep dive into novel therapeutic approaches that stimulate anti-tumor immunity.

Watch A Closer Look at…Precision Immunotherapy to learn more about the next generation of cancer immunotherapies.

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