Jewish Music on the Go
Beth Am’s worship services are filled with music: uplifting and contemplative, traditional and contemporary. Our family started incorporating Jewish music into our lives when the kids were very young. Every Chanukah, one night’s gift to each child was a Jewish music CD. With two kids and many years of Chanukah gifts, we’ve acquired quite a collection. We rotated these CDs in the car and listened when we drove the 25 minutes to and from Beth Am on Shabbat and for youth education programs on any day. Sometimes, we’d just leave the music in the player and listen on all our errands throughout the week.
There’s a tremendous amount of Jewish music available in both English and Hebrew, and our family has developed an appreciation for a wide range of styles. Many albums contain the lyrics and notes on the text or liturgy from which the songs are derived. Here are some of our favorites purchased over the past 20 years. These artists have also produced additional great music more recently:
- Mah Tovu, Turn It and Only This. Original, contemporary compositions based on text and liturgy in a variety of musical styles. Includes former Beth Am Rabbi Yoshi Zweiback.
- Noam Katz, Mirembe. Contemporary music with an international flair. This is the album with Am Yisrael Chai that sometimes opens Beth Am’s Friday night services.
- Craig Taubman, Friday Night Live. Friday night liturgy with new tunes. We particularly like the klezmer-infused Lecha Dodi.
- Debbie Friedman, Shirim Al Galgalim: Songs on Wheels: A song for every holiday throughout the year. Great for kids.
- Rebbesoul, Change the World with a Sound: World fusion music in English, Hebrew, and Arabic. Some instrumentals, including Middle Eastern percussion and balalaika.
- Rick Recht, The Hope: Live album recorded at Jewish summer camp. Lots of energy!
- Dan Nichols, 18 on 18: Dan teaches songleading at Jewish summer camps across the nation, including our own Camp Newman, where our daughter learned several of the songs on this album.
- The Maccabeats, various. Fantastic Jewish a cappella group from Yeshiva University. We downloaded a lot of songs individually rather than buying particular albums. A combination of cover songs and original compositions based on liturgy, theatrical shows, and holidays.
- Meshugga Beach Party, Twenty Songs of the Chosen Surfers: Traditional Jewish songs played in the style of surf music, i.e., klezmer meets Ventures. Goofy and wonderful.
- Finally, we have to acknowledge our love of Joel ben Izzy, Jewish storyteller extraordinaire, who bookends all the stories with klezmer music. Our particular favorite is How I Learned to Love Liver and other tales too tall to tell.
We hope you'll enjoy listening to this great music!
Debbie La Fetra and Family
What are your favorite Jewish songs/albums? Share yours at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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