Stories of Music
Unit 1

What is Jewish Music?
What is Jewish Music?

Jewish music has been composed wherever Jews have lived.  Over the millennia, that has encompassed just about every corner of the globe.  “Jewish Music” comes in many styles, genres, and contexts.  This lesson explores the many answers to the questions “What is Jewish Music?”

Through this class, the learner will understand that

  • Jewish music is an open, evolving concept; there are many ways to “describe” it. (musical, sonic/sound, conceptual, social/historical)
  • There is a difference between Jewish Music and Music by Jews
  • Historical context is vital to understanding the concept of Jewish music
  • “American Jewish music” is a reflection of the historical, sociological and religious experiences of Jews living in America.
  • Jewish music is one facet through which to understand/define one’s Jewish experience.
  • The Milken Archive is a repository and access point for hearing and learning about Jewish music

Learners will listen to the music of Yossele Rosenblatt, Debbie Friedman, Craig Taubman, Irving Berlin, Max Bruch, Leonard Bernstein, and David Amram. They’ll be exposed to the Torah trope of Yemenite, North African, and Western Sephardic traditions. And, they’ll have a taste of Yiddish theater music.