Hebrew School

Hebrew School on Teruah Podcast
January 23, 2009, 1:43 pm
Filed under: podcasts | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Check out Hebrew School on the second installment of Jack Zaientz‘s Teruah Jewish Music podcast. Jack has fantastically diverse tastes and manages to dig up all sorts of weird and interesting Jewish music. His podcast encompasses the sounds of Jewish pasts, presents, and futures, somehow all at once. Also included in this edition: Dean Friedman (a new all-time favorite for me, thanks to Teruah), Shelly Hirsch (think Laurie Anderson times Esther Jungreis), and Golem.

Click here to read about the podcast, download it and add it to your iTunes.


“So like, how’s your project going?”

There it is, that pervasive question the past year and a half. Jack wants to know, as does bubbe, an R train rider, the Jews, Obama pollwatchers, Sixpoint Hop Obama drinkers, Six Points fellow fellows, and an assorted cadre of friends of friends, enemies of enemies, would-be impresarios and so forth.

Because the fellowship has presented me with such a great opportunity to push my art into such an exciting new direction, with new territory and parameters, the project’s been like a bond of pregnancy for me (as close as I’ll ever know, anyway). When someone is pregnant, I don’t ask them, “So, how do you think you’ll be able to carry this baby to term?” or, “So, is this baby going to be a successful orthodontist when it grows up?” Rather, I say, mazel tov, or even better yet, besha’ah tovah, meaning “in good time.” To be honest, I’d rather let the thing come to fruition before removing its foreskin.

Which isn’t to say that I haven’t appreciated your questions. Very much so, in their sincerity, I have. And it isn’t to say, perhaps unlike traditional Jewish pregnancy, that some celebrating isn’t in order, and hence I will give you some details from the ultrasound:

Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny, and Hebrew School has evolved into what could be described as my Trout Fishing in America. This is to say that Hebrew School might itself be a questioning individual, a dusty place with shafts of sunlight coming in, a paradoxical outlook, a brisket recipe, a living ideal (real or imagined), a past abutted against the present. The songs play out these conflicting scenarios as if they were generated from a computer by chance, meaning that, depending on who you are, some songs may be heartwarming, others reprehensible.

Hebrew School goes into the recording studio in November. I’m happy to say that we’ll be recording in my own neighborhood of South Brooklyn, and that I’ll be joined by members of Golem, Lucinda Black Bear, and other surprise special guests. The record’s release will occur early this spring, with an accompanying show. Keep checking this site for more details as they develop!

No one quite gets the Jews hora-ing

…at Celebrate Brooklyn better than Golem, do they?

Golem played fantastically this past Sunday in Prospect Park, part of a JDub Celebrate Brooklyn that included Soulico, DeLeon, and Sway Machinery, with Michael Showalter hosting. Jon Langford of the Mekons sat in on guitar and vocals, and then the Hungry March Band sat in on everything else.

With Golem at Webster Hall
March 5, 2008, 12:22 am
Filed under: klezmer, shows | Tags: , , , ,

Sunset from Manhattan Bridge via subway, en route to gig

Getting a call on a Sunday morning to play at Webster Hall the same evening would seem like a rare thing. But somehow the day began to acquire its own unusualness. It was unseasonably warm and sunny, to begin with, and I got all caught up in the historicity of it for me. Besides, Hugo Chavez was deploying troops on the border with Columbia, further driving up the prices of oil (and cocaine). And mother Russia was holding an election.

above, L to R: myself, Tim Monaghan, Alicia Jo Rabins, Annette Ezekiel, Taylor Bergren-Chrisman, Aaron Diskin

So the various members of Golem, who had spread themselves out for a hitherto quiet weekend, hurriedly drove, flew, and paddled back to the city for a show with Leningrad, an energetic, 17-or-so-piece ska/rock band from– as you might guess– St. Petersburg.

Me, I took the R train (rerouted over the Manhattan Bridge, see above).

Leningrad at work. The band drew a very enthusiastic crowd, mostly seeming to be Russian or Russian ex-pats. A barrier was erected in front of the stage prior to their set.

Полный Пиздец”



Leonard Nimoy in The Mysterious Golem
November 13, 2007, 1:04 am
Filed under: jewish, records, wfmu record fair | Tags: , , , , ,

Jewish Radio Theater presents
The Mysterious Golem
with Leonard Nimoy and Gideon Zinger as the Maharal

Released by JRT Records in 1982 (“The producers request that this record rest on Shabbat and Yom Tov”), this is one of my prize finds from the WFMU record fair. Nimoy plays Rav Katz, the son-in-law of Rabbi Yehuda Loewe, creator of the Golem. Rav Katz (with a Spock accent) narrates to his son Chaim (with a Brooklyn accent) the story of the Jews’ persecution in Prague, and Loewe’s efforts, with a little Kabbalistic ritual and luck (and an Eastern European accent), to bring about a force that will rid the Jews of blood libels conducted by some non-Jewish residents of Prague (with Cockney accents, naturally).

The back cover states that this album was recorded in Hollywood (Nimoy), Israel (Zinger, Czech-Israeli actor), and New York (Chaim?).


Click back cover for larger resolution.