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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Nov. 7, 2006 /16 Mar-Cheshvan, 5767


By Stefan Kanfer

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Why bring back "Jewface"?

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | According to the Style section of the New York Times, sixteen songs have just been salvaged from was cylinder recordings and scratchy 78's and put on a new CD. The songs in "Jewface" were collected by Jody Rosen, a music critic for Slate, David Kaznelson, a former Warner Records executive, Josh Kun, an associate professor in the Annenberg Schnool for Communication at USC, and Courtney Holt, a former Interscope Records executive. (Interscope is the company that gave you gangsta rap with its references to dismemberment of females and violence toward white folks.)

According to Mr. Kun, he and his colleagues consider themselves "kind of disaffected American Jews, who aren't particularly religious and don't really lead very Jewish lives at all. Digging up these recordings was really about figuring out who we were in this world."

There are many, many volumes that might have helped them figure it out, including Irving Howe's World of Our Fathers, which tells the epic story of Jewish immigration compete with instances of anti-Semitism from both the gentiles and the Jews themselves. And there's a long shelf of other volumes that might further aid their understanding. But it's clear that these guys don't read much. And they don't check much, either.

The Times refers to one of the old songs as "When Mose With His Nose Leads the Band." The old song sheet does indeed show a gentleman with a large proboscis, but the actual title is "When Mose With His Hand Leads the Band." Words made a difference, even in the day.

Another of the songs in their collection is an Irving Berlin number from 1916, "Cohen Owes Me Ninety-Seven Dollars." It's about a man who can't stop thinking about some outstanding debts even on his deathbed. Now, as it happens Berlin wrote a great many such songs. Years afterward his contemporary, Groucho Marx, would sing these ethnic pieces at parties to the songwriter's excruciating embarrassment. "Every time I see him," Berlin grumbled, "I stick my hand in my pocket and ask him, 'How much if you don't sing it?'" The CD producers are evidently unaware that the Bard of the Bowery was an equal opportunity gadfly. Observing his Teutonic neighbors young Irving wrote, "Oh, How That German Could Love." For the Irish, there was "Molly-O!" For blacks, "Colored Romeo." You would never know any of this from the ethnocentric "Jewface."

The saddest part of this CD is not its sometimes amusing but often tasteless contents. It isn't even its aura of self-congratulation. (The search for these numbers, says Rosen, took some ten years. In fact anyone with a computer can find numerous and colorful old Yiddish song sheets on Brown University's site. The Berlin lyrics are in the Knopf collection of the composer's works. And many hilarious Jewish songs are on previous CD's, including the still-in-print "From Avenue A to the Great White Way.")

No, the saddest part is that this quartet seems to have no idea why songs like "Mose" or "Cohen" made an impact in their time, and why, alas, they continue to reverberate in the Jewish community today. For that you would have to read (and understand) a volume like Theodor Reik's Jewish Wit. In it the psychiatrist/historian dissects the humor of such lyrics: At his most desperate, "the Jew sharpens, so to speak, the dagger which he takes out of his enemy's hand, stabs himself, and then returns it gallantly to the anti-Semite with the silent reproach, 'Let's see whether you can do it half as well.'" In less threatening situations, the humor acts "to bring relaxation in the ardor of battle between the seen and with the invisible enemy; to attract him as well as repel him. Jewish wit hides as much as it discloses."

Something to bear in mind next time you listen to Sacha Baron Cohen do his thing in the movie Borat, or listen to the contents of "Jewface." What's hidden there is as significant as what's said and sung. The jokes may be amusing, but the attitude worse than superfluous. For as the world's headlines constantly demonstrate, anti-Semites currently have more than enough daggers without any help from their victims.

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PoliticalMavens.com contributor Stefan Kanfer’s books include The Eighth Sin, A Summer World, The Last Empire, Serious Business, Ball of Fire, and Groucho. He was a writer and editor at Time for more than twenty years. A Literary Lion of the New York Public Library and recipient of numerous writing awards, Kanfer is currently in the distinguished Writer program at Southampton College, Long Island University. He lives in New York and on Cape Cod.

© 2006, Stefan Kanfer