Please consider donating in memory of Jewish Community Council of Greater Coney Island’s beloved board member, Pearl Sapoznik. You can donate by going to: and choosing “Pearl Sapoznik Memorial Fund”. All proceeds will go towards meeting unmet needs of Holocaust Survivors.



Born in the Volhynian Polish city of Rovne on June 12, 1920, Pearl Sapoznik was the oldest of three girls (Rukhl, b. 1926, Pesya, 1928) Her father Izak, was a housepainter and her mother, Rivke a housewife.

A poor family, Pearl enjoyed an education in both traditional Jewish subjects (khumesh, rashi, davening) while also attending a Polish public school and a state sponsored Jewish school.

She was active in the Zionist group, Gordonia and in Yiddish singing circles.


In 1939, with the Russian-German Non-Aggression Pact, Rovne fell under the control of the Soviets.  Thanks to her father’s political activism (he was a follower of Trotsky and was imprisoned by the Polish government in 1920) he read an early German edition of  “Mein Kampf” and understood the threat of Nazis. When Rovne was attacked by the Germans in 1941, she her father, mother and younger sister Pepa followed the Red Army south to the city of Derbent on the Caspian Sea where the family lived in a horse stall while working sewing uniforms, canning food and painting hospitals and clinics. Her middle sister Rukhl, who was away when the war broke out, returned home after the Germans had taken control and later died in the Rovne Ghetto.


The family returned to the ruined Rovne where she married fellow Rovner, khazn Zindel Sapoznik, and, with her family, left for the West. They were in the Bindermichl DP camp in Linz, Austria from 1946 until coming to America in 1949.

In America, Pirl was an active member of the The First Rovner Benevolent Society landsmanshaft  and became its long time Recording Secretary and the last to take minutes in Yiddish.  In her later years she did voter registration for the Democratic Party and was an election poll worker.


Though married to a world renowned cantor, it wasn’t until events like KlezKamp, the Workmen’s Circle Camps and Yiddish Vokh, that the world learned about Pearl Sapoznik’s rare gifts as a singer. Possessed of a clear and sure alto, Pirl Sapoznik sang a rich repertoire of traditional and popular Yiddish songs from traditional broadsides, Zionist recruiting songs and Yiddish theater hits and a parallel repertoire of Polish ballads, epic patriotic poems and radio tangos.

In 2000, she co-hosted with actor David Rogow, the segment  “Yiddish Word of the Day” for the Peabody Award winning NPR series, “The Yiddish Radio Project.”

In 2002 Pirl Sapoznik was featured in the Emmy award winning documentary “A Yiddish World Remembered” talking about her beloved Rovne.


Settling in Brighton Beach in 1983, her small, comfortable apartment blocks from the boardwalk became a magnetic mecca for visitors from around the world who came to bask in her gentle and powerful Yiddishkayt and to sing songs with her.  She was a great believer in tzedoke and was on the board member of the Jewish Community Council of Greater Coney Island and did fundraising for, and represented the needs of, indigent Holocaust survivors.

She is survived by two sons, Henry and Norman, three grandchildren, 5 great grandchildren, and untold numbers of lovers of Yiddish song and culture who knew and loved her.