Music 101

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American Jewish Music

Jewish Rock RadioThe music of North American Jews reflects the delicate balance these communities attempt to maintain between upholding their distinct Jewish identity and participating in the broader North American culture. The rise of North American Jewish folk music, blending the sounds of the American folk music tradition with Jewish lyrics--often based on Jewish texts--is an example of such a phenomenon. In addition, the revival of klezmer music in recent years reflects American Jewry's largely Eastern European roots and the endeavors of young musicians to reconnect with the cultures and traditions of past generations. In addition, some of America's greatest composers and songwriters are Jewish, including Aaron Copeland, George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Carole King, and Bob Dylan.

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Israeli Music

In its relatively short life so far, the state of Israel has created a rich musical tradition of folk, popular, and classical music. Israel's diverse immigrant population--and their native-born offspring--has fused their many musical traditions, from both the East and the West, to create an authentic Israeli sound. Before statehood, the Zionist movement used folk music to instill in Jews the ideals of the movement. As European musicians emigrated, a rich tradition of classical music was born in Israel. And more recently, Israeli musicians have created distinctive pop tunes, reflecting the unique roots of the musicians as well as the culture and politics of the Jewish state.

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