Wailing Wall is a band of one — and that one is 23-year-old Jesse Rifkin. With guest members (a population that has numbered over 30), he records and plays music that is folk-rock at heart and orchestral in scope. We asked him to guest blog for us about a few Jewish songs he liked. “You know,” I wrote, “3 or 5.” He hit us back with an authoritative list of…well, see for yourself.
Ten Jewish Songs That Don’t Make Me Want to Stab My Eyes Out
by Jesse Rifkin
1. Leonard Cohen â€“ â€œIf It Be Your Willâ€ (from Various Positions)
Could just as easily have been â€œHallelujah,â€ or â€œStory of Isaac,â€ or â€œAnthem,â€ or â€œWho By Fire.â€ They are all so completely perfect in every way. This just happens to be the one I was listening to today. I also highly recommend Antonyâ€™s performance of this song on the I’m Your Man soundtrack.
2. Bene Israel â€“ â€œYah Ribonâ€ (from Eliyahoo Hanabee)
My dad gave me this record pretty recently. Apparently Bene Israel is a congregation in India that uses a harmonium and tablas in their services. I donâ€™t know that much else about it. It sounds more like Hindu kirtan chanting or Pakistani qawwali music than anything I have ever heard in synagogue. I really like it.
3. Shlomo Carlebach â€“ â€œLâ€™Maâ€™an Achaiâ€ (from Holy Brothers and Sisters)
I grew up hearing Shlomoâ€™s music around the house. Heâ€™s such a powerful and soulful singer that I think it is pretty hard to not like listening to him. Unfortunately, most of his records that I have heard are bogged down by truly horrendous production choices — if he wasnâ€™t singing, I would swear they were early 90â€™s porn soundtracks. Holy Brothers and Sisters, though, is a treat â€“ it is tastefully arranged with nylon-string guitar, bass, hand drums, flute, tambourine, and finger cymbals. His â€œfreak folkâ€ record, if you will.