Stories of Music Lesson

The Sounds of Eretz Yisrael in America: The Crucial 60’s
The Sounds of Eretz Yisrael in America: The Crucial 60’s


This lesson will explore how music of Israel grew in the consciousness of American Jews and penetrated American culture generally.  American Jewry formulated its own brand of Zionism, which supported the enterprise in Palestine but remained committed to life in America. The Israeli music that penetrated American Jewish life seems to buttress this idea.

Through this lesson, learners will understand that:

  • Israeli music was a primary means through which American Jews were exposed to Israeli culture and Zionism, and became and remained connected to Eretz Yisrael.
  • Israeli music grew in impact on the synagogue and in Jewish education efforts, formal and informal, as American Zionism took hold.
  • The “sound” of Israeli music has influenced the composition of Jewish American Composers.
  • American Jews’ integration and distribution of Israeli music reflects the contemporaneous relationship of American Jews to Israel.
  • After the rise of the State of Israel in 1948, Israeli musical forms began to penetrate American culture more broadly.

Learners will listen to the music of Israeli dance, Leonard Bernstein, Jerry Herman, The Weavers, Naomi Shemer, Paul Ben Haim, Rachel Shapira and more.

All the while, they’ll ask themselves:

  • How has Israeli music and dance made its impact on American Jewish life? (Consider both formal and informal ways.)
  • How has Israeli music and dance had an effect on American Jewish composers and songwriters?
  • When and how did Israeli musical forms start penetrating American culture generally?


We are deeply grateful to the two people who wrote these lessons:

Lorry Black, DMA, Associate Director, Lowell Milken Center for Music of American Jewish Experience
Rabbi Dr. J.B. Sacks, Educational and Curriculum Specialist, Stories of Music; Rabbi, Congregation Am HaYam (Ventura, CA)

Our gratitude extends to the pedagogic advisors and reviewers of this lesson:
Mark Kligman, PhD, Mickey Katz Endowed Chair in Jewish Music, UCLA
Dr. Susan Helfter, USC Thornton School of Music
Rabbi Devin Villarreal, Thrive Educational Services
Cantor Julie Berlin, Temple Beth-El (San Antonio, TX)
Cantor Sheldon Levin, Congregation Neve Shalom (Metuchen, NJ)