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Modern Jewish Folk Music - My Top Ten

Updated on September 22, 2014

Jewish Music


Cantoral and chasiddic melodies were the musical standard traditionally. American Jews showed increasing interest in Israeli music with the founding of the State of Israel in 1948. In the 1950s, the practice of singing Israeli songs in American synagogues, camps, and at social gatherings spread. This was accelerated in the 1960s and 1970s as young American Jews looked to Israel as a positive model for Jewish identity.

The folk music revival of the time, in the 1960s and 1970s led to a new genre of worship music which grew out of the Reform summer camp movement. In the beginning of Reform worship, the music centered around the use of organ and choir. The new music was composed for acoustic guitar and group singing. This new style focused on making the music was simpler, singable, largely Hebrew, and could be played on the guitar.

Sometimes Jewish music jumps into mainstream consciousness, as with the reggae artist Matisyahu. The 2007 Grammy awards were a landmark, as the Klezmatics (a klezmer/folk group) became the first Jewish band to win a Grammy. Their music combines lyrics by the late Woody Guthrie with classical klezmer tunes.

Julie Silver

Peri Smilow


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      Jewish music 7 years ago

      It is a very controversial topic as to what makes Jewish music Jewish. Certainly just because something is called "Klezmer" should automatically make it Jewish but perhaps a genre. People usually think of Jewish music as hava nagila. Religous Jewish music (i.e. is a lot more sophisticated and has come a long way over the years.