Jews & Rock – NOT an oxymoron 2

by Danny Gaisin
                That Jews contributed to the classical music genre –well recognized. Think Mendelssohn, Schoenberg, Meyerbeer, Bloch, Offenbach and Mahler. If we add in the converts, the Jewish contribution to Jazz is substantial. George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Bob Marley,
Sammy Davis Jr., Percy Faith, Herb Alpert and Paul Shaffer immediately come to mind along with Neil Diamond and Paul Simon. But, some in-depth historical investigation by Cantor Eyal Bitton demonstrated that even the ‘rock’ category has benefitted from the poetry and heritage of the Hebraic experience.

Bitton and his projector screen

Bitton and his projector screen

A Powerpoint© and lecture presentation last evening at Hamilton’s Beth Jacob Synagogue was an eye/mind/& ear-opener. Dylan is a practising Jew! Simmons of KISS and Roth of VAN HALEN both turn out to be surprisingly non-Gentile! To learn that the Beastie Boys are a trio of Brooklyn conservatives was even more of a revelation than learning that Sedaka and Billy Joel are also co-religionists.
Bitton conceptualizes that it is the history; heritage; and tradition that makes it so unproblematic for engrossed young musicians to imbue their lyrics or points-of-view with the baggage of generations. Excerpts from our liturgy; referrals to recent traumatic events, and a strong sense of almost biblical fair-play crowd the lyrics of even the Hard Rock genus. Obviously, Bitton has contributed an amazing thesaurus of research into his presentation. Unfortunately, last evening’s audience was far less than what the subject and the production deserved. This scribe hopes that the Chazzan takes his show on the road; and that there’s a follow-up (Jewish Rock 2.0?) is in the foreseeable future.

Danny & 'You-know-who' aping the cover of "THE JAZZ SINGER" album

Danny & ‘You-know-who’ aping the cover of “THE JAZZ SINGER” album


  1. Danny: I tried sending you an e-mail but it came back undelivered. Do you have a new address? Want to invite you to another Act of Faith Production–Tuesdays With Morrie– opening Nov. 1.

    Vince Carlin

  2. Sounds like a very intriguing presentation. It must be interesting to learn about connections between Jewish culture and genres that aren’t usually associated with it.

    Quite surprising that some of the names were mentioned, but also fairly mindblowing in a way that the influence of Jewish musicians in the genre has been overlooked, yet these musicians are part of some of the most influential groups (or are just influential on their own).

    Great review, Danny, captures my interest.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s