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One of the more joyous street gatherings on Christmas Day happens in front of Saul’s, the Jewish deli on Shattuck Avenue near Vine.

For the last three years, Klezmer musicians have gathered to play outside the deli, their lively, upbeat music serenading the long line of people waiting to go inside the restaurant or those just wanting to hear a tune.

People wait to buy latkes on Christmas Day. Photo: Emanuah Hauser

This year, the annual Christmas Day concert coincided with Hanukkah, and Saul’s owners’, Peter Levitt and Karen Adelman, sold their famous latkes from a food truck for the first time. Inside, dozens of people gathered around large tables to eat communally.

Mike Perlmutter, a biologist, and Emunah Hauser, a food publicist and host at Saul’s, came up with the idea of the Christmas Day music jam while talking outside the restaurant a few years ago, said Hauser. Since then, Perlmutter, who books klezmer and Jewish folk acts at the Subterranean Arthouse on Bancroft Way, has organized the musicians. (He plays the sax and clarinet.)

“Saul’s is slammed on Dec 25 with a captive audience enjoying the ubiquitous day off together, and it is always fun as a musician to give people the unexpected,” said Hauser. “The beauty of street performance is exposing people to an experience they didn’t plan on, who didn’t buy a ticket to the show – who don’t know they are going to get this raucous treat as they walked the desolate streets towards Saul’s, but are grateful and happy it is there. This is especially true of heritage and traditional music, I think – we forget to listen and recollect in our busy modern lives these shared histories.”

Ira Serkes made the video.

Musicians outside Saul's Deli. Photo: Emunah Hauser
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Frances Dinkelspiel, Berkeleyside and CItyside co-founder, is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman...