Reflections on July 4th, 2022
Independence Day stirs up emotions in people such as patriotism, pride, and happy anticipation of spending time together with family and community.  For Maxwell Street Klezmer Band, it has always meant rolling down the street on a flatbed truck playing klezmer music—our way of adding the voice of America’s Jewish community to the festivities.  For the past decade, we have played in two parades in succession:  First, in Highland Park, Illinois, and then in Skokie, Illinois.

Horror is not one of the emotions that Independence Day should stir, but yesterday, that is exactly what occurred. As you might have seen and heard on the news, Maxwell Street Klezmer Band had just begun to roll down the streets of Highland Park playing klezmer music when an individual began shooting into the crowd several blocks ahead of us. As parade-watchers began to flee past the band in the opposite direction, we quickly realized that something was terribly wrong and found a way to get out of the parade lineup to safety.

The musicians and I are experiencing the same feelings that people across the US and around the world feel: Shock, grief, sorrow, and anger. In addition, though, we are also experiencing distress at seeing pictures and videos of our band on TV, newspapers, and on the internet in association with this tragedy. 

Our hearts are with the families and friends of the seven people who perished, and the thirty people who were injured yesterday in this senseless act of violence. We would like to thank the hundreds of people who have checked in on us to make sure that we are OK. For that, we are deeply grateful.

Here is an article featuring an interview with our tuba player, Howard Prager, who eloquently describes the band’s experience and expresses the sorrow that we all feel in the aftermath of this tragedy.

May the mourners in Highland Park and the world know consolation and comfort.

Lori Lippitz
Director, Maxwell Street Klezmer Band and Klezmer Music Foundation
Klezmer Music Foundation