Paul Robeson

View as Single Page Single Page    Print this page Print this page


» Buy
the album The Collector’s Paul Robeson.

» Watch
Robeson sing
“Let My People Go.”

» Learn
more about
Robeson’s life.

» Quiz
yourself about 
Jewish music.

December 20, 2010 
An Unexpected Yiddish Balladeer
Paul Robeson (1898-1976) was an African-American singer, actor, and activist who sang the songs of his ancestors–and ours.

Robeson learned Hebrew from his father, a Christian preacher, and he became captivated by the Jewish stories and hymns he heard in childhood, several of which had been adapted by blacks in the American South. In Robeson’s professional life, Jewish songs accounted for some of his most popular numbers, including “Hassidic Chant (Kaddish)” and “Zog Nit Keynmol (Song of the Warsaw Ghetto).”

Later in life, Robeson used his popularity to affect social change, fighting for the integration of major league baseball, lobbying against South African apartheid, and supporting unions in America.

He also campaigned for the rights of Russian Jews while on tour in the USSR in 1949, and met with the Jewish writer and activist Itzik Feffer in Moscow. Soon after, Feffer was assassinated by the government–an event which spurred Robeson to performYiddish songs in his Russian concerts, in spite of a warning by the Soviet government not to get involved.

If anyone ever crafted their sadness into art, it was Robeson–a mournful and beautiful voice haunted by his own people’s history, and the history of other peoples.

Share this article on Facebok Share
 

SIGN UP FOR OUR OTHER NEWSLETTERS

Parenting History Recipes Shabbat Weekly Torah

Jewniverse is an initiative ofMyJewishLearning.com and The Manuel D. and Rhoda Mayerson Foundation.

You are receiving this email because you have subscribed to this periodic e-letter on MyJewishLearning.com. To unsubscribe, please click here.

 

Did you like this article? MyJewishLearning is a not-for-profit organization.

Please consider making a donation today.

View as Single Page Single Page   

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning.com are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy