What Is Jewish Music?

If anyone knows what Jewish music is, it’s Jeremiah Lockwood of The Sway Machinery. As a band leader and a musical researcher, he takes Jewish songs that are thousands of years old and orchestrates them for his band (which includes members of Tom Waits’ band and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs…swoon!). And as a person, he […]

Putting God Back into Schools: Artists & Musicians for Israel

There’s a new type of kiruv going on in Israel. Kiruv, which literally means “bringing something close,” refers to religious outreach. It usually calls to mind pictures of dancing rabbis pouring out of vans, putting tefillin on people’s arms and giving out Shabbat candles. Yehuda Katz and the people behind Artists and Musicians for Israel, […]

Jewish Music Lyrics: The Best of 2009

It’s not news that a Hasidic Jew can rule the charts or that Yiddish-revivalist klezmer-punk bands are capable of rocking out. The big revelation of Jewish music in 2009 might be this: The Jewishness just might not matter. Hasidic singer Matisyahu‘s song “One Day” was named the official song of the 2010 Olympics — not […]

The Hanukkah Music Rush Begins

Everyone in the Jewish sphere of things, from Modern Tribe to the New York Times, seems to be rolling out Hanukkah specials and Hanukkah gift ideas. And why not? We Jews make up 2% of the American population, but we make up a much higher percentage of the your-overprotective-parents-want-to-do-something-nice-for-you population. And now our favorite band […]

The Jewish Music Woodstock

How do you discover great Jewish music? I’m not talking about Barbra Streisand or Yossele Rosenblatt — or, no, not even Bob Dylan’s Christmas album. I mean real Jewish music, Jewish music that hits you straight in the gut, new and current and unlike anything you — or anyone else — has ever heard before. […]

Bob Dylan’s Christmas Album: The Music (Part 3)

Seth Rogovoy, author of Bob Dylan: Prophet, Mystic, Poet, wrote yesterday about Bob Dylan’s Judaism. He is guest-blogging all week for MyJewishLearning and the Jewish Book Council. Almost lost in all the commotion surrounding Bob Dylan’s new Christmas album, Christmas in the Heart — his first charity album, as the proceeds from all sales are […]

When Israeli Music Becomes World Music

Fool’s Gold is a truly multicultural band: Caribbean guitars, African rhythms, a big-band horn section, and American indie-rock production. And, of course, Hebrew lyrics. Uh, what? Turns out that the lead singer of Fool’s Gold, Luke Top, is Israeli. Well: he’s sort of Israeli. “I was born in Israel but grew up in America,” he […]

Gospel Music at Shul: Yay or Nay?

There’s this weird trend going on at my shul recently. Hadar has always been big on people bringing in new tunes to use for kedusha and other parts of the service. It’s always beautiful, and I like that moment where you’re singing along and trying to figure out how you know the melody. Recently I […]

Love Songs, Pop Songs, and Musical Holocaust Memoirs

There are generally two kinds of Jewish kids who are obsessed with music — the Broadway musical type, and the indie-rock K Records type — and the singer-songwriter Avi Fox-Rosen personifies both of them. He has the wiry glasses, bald head and beard of the latter, but the peppy musical sensibility, dance moves, and fashion […]

From the Academy: Musicology

Judah Cohen serves as The Lou and Sybil Mervis Professor of Jewish Culture and as an Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies and Folklore and Ethnomusicology at Indiana University in Bloomington. His first book, Through the Sands of Time (2004), explores the history of the small Jewish community on the island of St. Thomas, in the […]