2 CD set from Idelsohn Society

Last week, the Idelsohn Society released its latest compilation of classic American Jewish songs: “Twas the Night Before Hanukkah: The Musical Battle Between Christmas and the Festival of Lights.” The CD SET features 34 tracks including Xmas and Hanukkah related songs that were written and/or performed by Woody Guthrie, The Ramones, Lou Reed, Debbie Friedman, Don McLean, Klezmer Conservatory Band, Bob Dylan, Dinah Shore, The Klezmatics, Don McLean, Sammy Davis Jr., Flory Jagoda; Mickey Katz, Cantor Yossele Rosenblatt, Richard Tucker, and many more. Song include Yevonim; Rock of Ages; Klezzified; Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel; Ocho Kandelikas; Hanukah Tree; Mo’Oz Tsur; the Ramones’ Merry Christmas (I Don’t Wanna Fight Tonight); Mel Torme’s “The Christmas Song”; Bob Dylan’s Little Drummer Boy; and Cantor Richard Tucker’s O Little Town of Bethlehem. One “Dreidel” song changes into a Zydeco tune.

The Idelsohn Society for Musical Preservation was founded by Roger Bennett, Courtney Holt, David Katznelson and Josh Kun; and it consists of a small, dedicated team who are passionate about American Jewish music classics. Their earlier compilations include Mazeltov, Mis Amigos; Black Sabbath: The Secret Musical History of Black-Jewish Relations; and Songs for the Jewish-American Jet Set: The Tikva Records Story 1950-1973. The society is named for Abraham Zevi Idelsohn, a legendary Jewish musicologist and the writer of … wait for it… “Hava Nagila.”

The theme of the CD should be paired with a white wine, a potato latka, and this new book by Rabbi Joshua Plaut, A Kosher Christmas: Tis The Season To Be Jewish” The book recounts how American Jews devised a multitude of unique strategies to respond to the Christian winter holiday season and how they influenced the transformation of Xmas into a joyous holiday for Americans of all religious beliefs, including composing the most famous Christmas songs, transforming Hanukkah into a Jewish Christmas, and creating a tradition of volunteering and patronizing Chinese restaurants on Erev Christmas (Eve)

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