Posts Tagged With: Film

My Sweet Canary: Roza Eshkenazy

Roza Eshkenazy was a cafe singer and prolific recording artist in the 1930’s. Known as the Queen of Rebetiko, her long career continued through the 1970’s. She died in December, 1980 in her mid 80’s, confused by Alzheimer disease.   Her music continues even today to influence and inspire Israeli, Greek, and Turkish artists.

Born in the late 1890’s to Sephardi Jewish parents,  she grew up near Thessaloniki.   She survived World War II with a forged baptismal certificate and a love affair with a German officer.  After the war she toured frequently in the USA and even considered living there. However, the love of her life remained in Greece.  By the late 1950’s she had returned to Greece where she lived until the end of her life.

Rebetiko, or “Greek blues”, is the name given to urban-Greek folk music and Ottoman cafe music based on Turkish modes and traditional Greek and Anatolian dance rhythms. Lyrics discussed themes of urban life and hardship, including the urban drug culture. It is accompanied by traditional stringed instruments, finger cymbals, and sometimes an accordion or  hammered dulcimer like instrument.

Her life and the Jewish-Turkish milieu in which she lived was memorialized in a documentary, “My Sweet Canary”, by Haifa born director Roy Sher. Continue reading

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Punk Jews

If you are interested in funky, creative ways to turn Judaism into a personal mission, you’ll want to see the new documentary, “Punk Jews”.    Here’s the producer, Evan Kleinman, talking about the project, and how it shaped his own sense of Jewish identity:


Among the six Jews featured in the documentary are:

  • Moshiach Oi, Hassidic Punk Rock band
  • The Sukkos Mob, Yiddish street performance group/li>
  • Yitz Jordan (Y-Love), African-American Jewish hip-hop artist
  • The Amazing Amy Yiddish Yoga, yoga contortionist

Kleinman observes:

In the past we’ve always classified Jews in America between Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, and Unaffiliated. And a lot of Jews today in their 20’s and 30’s happen to fall into the category of unaffiliated. Personally, I feel like the word unaffiliated should be completely done away with because it puts a complete negative connotation on the current generation and how they express themselves. I think we should change the word unaffiliated to exploratory…. We want to express our Jewish identity on the street, or in a bar, at a club, at an event, or at a concert.

Many of the Jews in the film were met through Cholent, a weekly gathering of Jews from all walks of life, religious and non-religious. As one participant described it, “It’s Jews from the fringes of everywhere”.

Director Jesse Zook Mann told Heeb n’ Vegan “”I want to turn people on to the idea that people can be creative inside of their heritage and can create what their religion means to them and that freedom and honoring your heritage are not mutually exclusive”.

The feature length film has just finished production and is being submitted to film festivals for the 2012 season.

The project was funded with help from Kickstarter, and various fund raising events. Producer Evan Kleinman developed the business aspects of the project with the help of Present Tense‘s CEP program.

Feature articles on the project have been published in Cool Hunting, the Jerusalem Post , Jewcy, and
the Jewish Week.

For more information, see:

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What It Means To Be A Jew

…. I am an IDF sweatshirt and the chai around your neck.  I am a $100 challah cover that you will never use and the five shekel piece of red string you will wear until it withers away.   I am your Hebrew name. I am your Israeli cousins.  I am your  Torah portion and your 13 candles. I am your Bat Mitzvah dress and the cute Israeli soldier on your Birthright trip.  I am 18 when I discover that Israel is not actually a garden of Eden of milk and honey where Jews of all backgrounds, ethnicities and styles of worship come together, eternally happy and appreciative to do a constant hora in the streets of the Holy Land.  I am still confident that it will be….  (author: Andrew Lustig )

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