A montage of Jewish sounds— vocal as well as instrumental, sacred as well as secular, traditional as well as contemporary, and authored or performed by Jews as well as non-Jews— mapped to their geographic origins. Click on a place and listen to an eclectic ensemble spanning more than 20 countries, myriad languages and dialects (sometimes within a single video clip), and diverse eras of composition as well as performance.
What makes sounds Jewish? What does it means that someone or some melody or some accent “sounds” Jewish? For a spell, to “sound” Jewish meant that you had a Yiddish accent, or, at least, that you hailed from Brooklyn. But now? Where does that leave Israelis? Or Mizrachi Jews? Or the ba’alei teshuvah, who adopt Yeshiva-driven Yiddish as adults?
Marion S. Jacobson
The secrets, the music and the magic — based on inscriptions found on Babylonian Jewish incantation bowls from Late Antiquity — are part of Jewlia Eisenberg’s latest undertaking, the Bowls Project, a song cycle and an ongoing performance art installation recently presented at the Yerba Buena Cultural Center sculpture court. Part of John Zorn’s coterie of avant-garde Jewish musicians and composers and a five-time recording artist on his redoubtable Tzadik label, Eisenberg has made her most significant contribution yet to radical Jewish culture. But what does that mean, exactly, and how does her (or any other musician’s) work express radical Jewish aesthetics?
Sarah Bunin Benor
When non-observant Jews become Orthodox, or ba’alei teshuva (BTs), they take on the rules and prohibitions of halachah. But they also find themselves in the midst of a whole new culture involving matchmakers, homemade brisket and farfel, and Yiddish-inflected grammar.
Robert Rubin Jews support progressive immigration policies, but not just because we are admonished in Leviticus and Exodus to respect the stranger. Yes, as Rabbi Bonnie Koppell argued recently on this page, views on immigration can be visceral and “public policy must be based on more than what our hearts tell us.” But sound legal,
1. What are the sounds you associate with “Jewish” — and why?
2. What makes music Jewish — the singer/songwriter, lyrics, impulses, context?
3. Why is so much of Jewish music in a minor key?
4. What is the relationship between listening and hearing?