Children's songs and poetry are combined with Jewish holiday songs through the repertoire of Rachel Buchman. Her albums, workshops and concert performances have made her songs a staple of classrooms and nurseries around the globe and have received prestigious American Library Association, Parent's Choice and Oppenheimer Toy awards.
Buchman's early plans to become an actress were shifted when she became a popular entertainer at children's parties in New York. Although she sang in a church choir and studied classical piano as a youngster, her direction was altered by a trip to Israel that she took as a college student. Meeting a cousin, who had been a Halocaust survivor, when she stopped in London on her way back to the United States, the experience sparked an interest in the Yiddish language. Returning to New York, she enrolled at Yivo University. During the years she spent at the school, she became increasingly interested in Yiddish theater and music.
Buchman's interests in Yiddish culture were further enhanced when she spent a year in Berlin with her husband, Harvey Yuris, a professor of ancient Greek and Roman languages. Her skills as a children's performer were sharpened when she worked at a day care center at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She continues to teach at the Becker Early Childhood Center of Temple Emanu-El in Houston, Texas.
Buchman's albums have been directed at the youngest members of her audience. Her debut album, Hello Ev'rybody! Playsongs and Rhymes From a Toddler's World, was released in 1986. Her album Jewish Holiday Songs for Children released in 1993 and was followed by a multi-lingual songbook and guide of the same name, published by Mel Bay in 1997.
Although Buchman's early performances were rooted in the folk tradition, her recent shows have incorporated classical music and improvised piano. Her material pertaining to children continued into the new millennium. Shine Little Candles: Chanukah Songs for Children was released in fall 2000. ~ Craig Harris