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Scandal: Jewish Musicians Playing at a Non-Jewlicious Festival

There’s that huge annual rock festival called “Rock am Ring” about ten miles from my home as the foygl flies. It takes place right at the Nürburgring, one of the world’s most legendary race courts in motorsports. The Nürburgring is situated in the German highlands called “Eifel”, which border on the Rhine river in the East and the Moselle in the South and extend into Belgium and Luxembourg in the West. The Eifel used to be one of the main areas of rural Jewry in Germany, and many Yiddish terms still used in Eifel dialects to this day bear witness to that. (For instance, in West Yiddish as well as in Eifel dialects “to eat” is “ochele”; “essen”, the Standard German for “to eat”, appears to be a Austro-Hungarian adaption by originally non-native speakers of Yiddish.) Jews in the Eifel often were cattle merchants, grocers, tailors, clothing retailers (more on that in a future post), so it comes as little surprise that the language heritage is pretty apparent in terms relating to trade and also made it into vagrant languages like Rotwelsch. (Shall I do a post on that? Hmmmm, we’ll see…)

The Nürburgring in particular is within walking distance of a village that used to have a vibrant rural Jewish community, and only lately, after much embarrassment, have there been citizens’ initiatives to critically assess what had happened – and what had been lost – during the Third Reich.

So please forgive my Schadenfreude when I was checking out this year’s Rock am Ring line-up and and saw the comparatively high numbers of Jewish or Jew-y musicians, with both KISS and Gogol Bordello (Just a heads-up, German audience will know that “Bordell” means “brothel”.) taking the centre-stage as well as Rammstein. “What?”, you may think, “Rammstein? Isn’t that this über-German industrial metal band?” You’d be quite right there, alas, it takes to know German well to see the sarcasm in Rammstein’s lyrics with reference to allegedly German values. Also, and this makes me cherish that band even more, their recent single “Haifisch” quotes elements composed by Kurt Weill. And if you don’t know who Kurt Weill is, well then… (I’ll leave it to Tom to fill in the gap as it was his b’day recently, and that should be acknowleged in some way.)

The image, by the way, is available in high resolution under the “Media” tab on the Rock-am-Ring website; I was contemplating putting on full KISS make-up and then take my fancy, new webcam and shoot a clip of myself doing a rendition of the following song (dedicated to you-know-who), but I didn’t want to get chided again, so here’s the original for your enjoyment:

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