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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

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Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

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

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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

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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

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Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

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April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

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Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

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

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

Jewish World Review March 22, 2004 / 29 Adar, 5764

Grammy Jews

By Nate Bloom

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https://www.jewishworldreview.com | I find that the Grammy nominations provide an annual excuse to give readers a sense of the breadth and depth of the Jewish contribution to music. While this article has a certain "laundry list" feel (it was serialized in several Jewish papers) — that depth still comes through. No doubt, many will be surprised at which musicians are Jewish. Without doubt, many more will be surprised that among the most observant Jews are some Jews in the rock categories. Things are rarely what they seem to be. Personally, I'd love to be at a music festival in which all these guys appeared and fans of different genres of music could be exposed to all these forms.

KURT WEILL, the great German Jewish composer ("Three Penny Opera") expressed this point brilliantly when he said of intellectual critics who wanted to ideologically pigeon-hole music, "I define music in two categories — good and bad." (Performers, below, marked with an asterisk won the Grammy in at least one category that were nominated in. Everyone in caps in this piece is either fully Jewish or was raised Jewish)

In the classical categories, as usual, there are a number of Jewish nominees. MICHAEL TILSON THOMAS*, the conductor of the San Francisco Symphony, is nominated for best classical album for "Mahler's Symphony #3." The best instrumental soloist category includes three Jewish pianists: ANDRES SCHIFF, a Hungarian, for his performance of Bach's "Goldberg Variations"; EVGENY KISSIN, who moved to the US from Russia in 1992, for a Brahms piece; and EMANUEL AX*, a Polish-born; Canadian-raised musician who has long delighted audiences. He's nominated for his performance of several of Haydn's sonatas. In the best opera category, you'll find the Metropolitan Opera's production of "La Juive" (The Jewess) by (Jewish composer) JACQUES HALEVY (1799-1862). Tenor NEIL SHICOFF, who sang the male lead role, is one of the "La Juive" performers nominated.

It's a Jewish composer sweep in the musical show category. All are revivals, except for BILLY JOEL'S "Movin On" (which is based on his old songs.) The revivals are: "Flower Drum Song" (RICHARD RODGERS and OSCAR HAMMERSTEIN II, whose father was Jewish); "Gypsy" (STEPHEN SONDHEIM* and JULE STYNE*); "Man of La Mancha" (MITCH LEIGH and JOE DARION); and "Nine" (MAURY YESTON). Yeston, like Neil Shicoff, is the son of a cantor.

Jewish composers nominated for best song in a film include FRED EBB and JOHN KANDER for "I'll Move On," from "Chicago," "Lose Yourself," from "8 Mile," co-written by Detroiter JEFF BASS; and "A Mighty Wind" from "A Mighty Wind", co-written by EUGENE LEVY*. ("Lose Yourself" is also nominated for "song of the year" and best rap song.) In the related best film score category you'll find PHILIP GLASS, for "The Hours," HOWARD SHORE, for "The Two Towers," and RANDY NEWMAN, for "Seabiscuit."

Oscar and Grammy nominations are on a different schedule — so some 2003 Oscar nominees re-appear in this year's Grammies. "Lose Yourself," for example, won the Oscar last year for best song.

In the related musical compilation from a film category, you'll find comedic actor/musician JACK BLACK as one of the producers of the hit film, "School of Rock." Black had a bar mitzvah, albeit it not a rock and roll one.

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In the jazz categories, the multi-Grammy winning saxophone-playing Brecker brothers have scored multiple nominations. MICHAEL BRECKER* for best large ensemble album; best instrumental song; and best arrangement. RANDY BRECKER* for best contemporary jazz album. The Breckers have played some Jewish music over the years, too.

Five Jews show up in unexpected places. MARK LEVINE and his band, "The Latin Tinge," are nominated for best Latin Jazz album. Competing against Levine in this category is DAVE SAMUELS, Samuels, a great vibes player, is the leader of the Carribbean Jazz Project. The group is nominated for best Latin Jazz album for "Birds of a Feather." Samuels told an interviewer that he became fluent in Hebrew when spent a year in Israel just after high school. He called it the most exhilarating experience of his life and that he developed a "fervor for the Jewish people."

ANDRES LEVIN, a Venezuela native, came to the States in 1989. He's the frontman/producer of "Yerba Buena," a group that combines many influences. Levin plays guitar, bass and keyboards. The band's CD, "President Alien," scored a nomination for best Latin rock/alternative album. Levin has produced many leadings act, Latin and not. He is a multi-talented musician. "Yerba Buena" picked-up the Grammy in this category in 2002.

RAY BENSON, the biggest Jew in country, is nominated for best male country vocal performance for "Annabelle" and for best country instrumental performance for "Ain't Chet Yet." Benson is a practicing Jew who belongs to an Austin, Texas synagogue. Last year, Country legend Buck Owens presented Benson with one of his signature red-white-and-blue guitars and thanked him at a Bakersfield ceremony for keeping alive the music of Country Western/Swing legend Bob Wills.

SEAN PAUL*, a young Jamaican fellow who is Sephardi on his father's side, has been nominated for best new artist (in any category of music), for best reggae album for "Dutty Rock," and for best male rap solo, for "Get Busy." Paul's full name is Sean Paul Henriques. The Henriques have been, for centuries, one of the most prominent Jamaican Jewish families. Paul attended, among other schools, the Jamaican Hillel Academy. He will perform with Sting on the Grammy broadcast. [Since we originally wrote this we found out, through a Jamaican Jewish source, that Paul's family has not been affiliated with the Jamaica synagogue for three generations. It is now unclear 'how Jewish' Paul is.]

Less surprising is the presence of comedians AL FRANKEN* in the spoken word category and DAVID CROSS in the best comedy album category. Cross, the co-star of of TV's "Arrested Development," finished second in Bravo's "Celebrity Poker" show just concluded. He wore a yalmulke while playing until he decided, after a run of bad hands, that he had not put on his "lucky yalmulke." (Bill Maher is also nominated for his comedy album. While he's Jewish on his mother's side--he was raised Catholic).

In the best children's album category, there's veteran Jewish comedian/director CARL REINER, for "Tell Me a Scary Story." In the related children musical category you'll find CATHY FINK* and her partner Marcy Marxer (who isn't Jewish). This is the ninth Grammy nomination for the talented duo. Fink was a bat mitzvah and describes herself as "very spiritual."

The "Divine Miss M," better known as BETTE MIDLER, is nominated for best traditional pop album for "The Rosemary Clooney Songbook." Midler has said she may ask that her nomination be withdrawn because she is, ironically, competing with the last album recorded by the late Rosemary Clooney. Midler goes up against BARBRA STREISAND's "Movie Album" — one of Streisand's best reviewed albums in years. (Singer k.d.lang* is also nominated in this category for a duet with Tony Bennett. Lang has some remote Jewish ancestry and, in years past, said she identified as Jewish.)

RICHARD MARX*, who had a series of big hits in the '80s, is nominated for "song of the year" and best R&B song for his collaboration with Luther Vandross, "Dance With My Father." Marx's late father, a successful jingle writer, was Jewish. His late mother wasn't. (Marx was raised without religion). Over in the best pop instrumental category you'll find two veteran Jewish musicians: Randy Newman and DAVE KOZ. This is the third nomination for saxophonist Koz. He's named for "Honey-Dipped" from the CD, "Saxophonic." Koz is a million-selling artist whose "smooth jazz" has found a large and appreciative audience. Dave Koz is a practicing Jew who has donated a lot of his time to Jewish and secular charities.

Newman is always nominated, it seems, for a Grammy or an Oscar. This year, Newman's Grammy nominations are for the title track from "Seabiscuit," and for the film's soundtrack. Newman, who was raised in a completely secular household, frequently touches on religion as a song topic — but as a commentator. He has stood aloof from organized religion, although he certainly has a strong moral viewpoint in his songs. His younger brother, a San Francisco doctor, broke with 'family tradition' and provided his children with a Jewish education.

DAVID BRYAN, and the other members of BonJovi, the mega-selling rock band, are nominated for best pop performancby a group with vocal ("Misunderstood" from the CD, "Bounce"). Bryan, a keyboardist, is a practicing Jew who told "Reform Judaism" magazine a few years ago that his faith informs his work. He is, by the way, the official shofar blower for his synagogue. Bryan may be Broadway-bound. He's the composer of "Memphis," a show that chronicles the birth of rock 'n' roll and follows a deejay who dared, in the '50s, to play the music of both black and white musicians. The first full production of "Memphis" is now playing in a theater near San Francisco.

In the same Grammy category as BonJovi you'll find "Matchbox Twenty," a huge selling bandwith two Jewish members: guitarist ADAM GAYNOR and bassist BRIAN YALE. They're nominated for the song, "Unwell." Gaynor, a self-described "nice Jewish boy from Florida," has told interviewers about his bar mitzvah and Chanukah celebrations.

Like Randy Newman, BOB DYLAN always seems to get a Grammy nomination. This year it is two: best pop collaboration with vocals (for "Gonna Change My Way of Thinking," with Mavis Staples) and best male rock performance, for "Down in the Flood." Competing against Dylan in this category is the "very hot" Lenny Kravitz, who is the son of a Jewish father and a non-Jewish African American mother. While Kravitz was raised without religion, he decided in 1996 to follow his mother's Christian faith.

Likewise, the late WARREN ZEVON* is mentioned here for the 'record' and because I liked him. Zevon, one of the most intelligent songwriters of the last thirty years, died in December 2003, after a well-publicized battle with cancer. Zevon was the son of a Jewish father, who Zevon described as a no-nonsense, ex-prize fighter. Zevon, however, was raised in his mother's Mormon faith. As an adult, he practiced no religion. Zevon's final album, "The Wind" was a moving, artistic tour de force. Zevon is nominated for four Grammies, including "Song of the Year," for the lovely, "Keep Me In Your Heart." (Zevon will be honored with a special segment at the Grammies).

We should also mention that popular punkish singer, "Pink," aka Alecia Moore, scored two Grammy nominations. Pink* has described her mother as "Jewish." Another source says that her mother is "half Jewish." Pink says that she does not adhere to any organized faith.

"KENNY G", aka Kenny Gorelick,almost paces Dylan in annual Grammy nominations. This year the "easy-listening" saxophone player is nominated for best pop instrumental album ("Wishes"). He competes with JIM BRICKMAN, a classically trained pianist who prefers to play his own romantic, new agey compositions. Brickman is Jewish on his mother's side and was raised Jewish. He's up for a Grammy for his CD, "Peace."

If you turn-up the volume, you'll find five Jews nominated in the besthard rock performance category: BRAD WILK, PERRY FARRELL, STEPHEN PERKINS, BRAD DELSON, and ROB BURDON. Wilk is the drummer for the 'supergroup' Audioslave, which is made up of most of the former members of "Rage Against the Machine," plus one guy from "Soundgarden." Audioslave is nominated for "Like A Stone," from their CD, "Audioslave" (which is also nominated for best rock album). Wilk recited the Hebrew blessing for the Sabbath before a concert crowd when "Rage" played Israel in 2000.

Perry Farrell, the lead singer/songwriter, for the band "Jane's Addiction," has long been one of the most electrifying Jews in rock. In the mid-1990s, he managed to overcome his drug abuse problems with a well-publicized return to Jewish religious observance. He is a practicing, if not Orthodox Jew. Stephen Perkins, the band's drummer, is also a practicing Jew who has played a lot of klezmer music. In 2003, Jane's Addiction put out it's first album of all new material ("Strays") since 1990. "Just Because," from this CD, is up for a Grammy.

"Linkin Park," a Southern California band, has been a huge seller since their 2002 debut CD. Few Jewish details have come out about "Linkin" drummer, Rob Bourdon, or guitarist, Brad Delson, other than they are Jewish. We did see a published report that Delson married this past summer in a "private Jewish ceremony." The six-man band has been nominated for their song, "Session," for their CD, "Metora."

In less ear-shattering categories, you'll find BRIAN CHASE and ADAM SCHLESINGER. Chase drums for the "Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs," a hip 'dance band' group that broke big in the last year. The band is nominated by best alternative music album for their debut CD, "Fever to Tell." Tongue-in-cheek, Chase told an interviewer that he got his drumming style from "the Jewish religion." In a more serious vein, he told the London Jewish News that he is very proud of being Jewish.

Schlesinger is the co-frontman/songwriter for the "power pop" band, "Fountains of Wayne." They're nominated for best pop performance ("Stacey's Mom") and for best new artist. The latter nomination is odd since the group's 2003 hit CD was actually their third CD. But it was their breakthrough album. Adam was raised in a secular Jewish home, the son of amateur musicians. Adam received an Oscar nomination a few years back for writing the title track from the Tom Hanks film, "That Thing You Do."

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Nate Bloom is the California-based editor of Jewhoo.com and writes a column on Jewish celebrities that currently appears in J. Weekly (San Francisco); the Baltimore Jewish Times; the Jewish News North of Phoenix; the Detroit Jewish News; Cleveland Jewish News; and American Israelite (Cincinnati). If you are interested having Mr. Bloom's column appear in your paper or to comment on this article, please click here.

© 2004, Nate Bloom