Saturday, August 28, 2010

Mountain Jews

Russia’s great expanse stretches south from the Arctic for many thousands of miles until it comes to a halt at the long spine of the Greater Caucasus Mountains. The republics on the northern side of the Caucasus, including turbulent Dagestan and Chechnya, still belong to Russia. Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenia, on the southern side of the mountains, gained their independence when the Soviet Union collapsed in the early 1990s. The high slopes are home to shepherds and the descendants of clans who have long lived there. Lower down, where sleepy towns look up from valleys to the snowy peaks, bigger communities try to scratch out a living.

In one of these towns—Oguz, Azerbaijan, a four-and-a-half-hour drive from Baku, the country’s oil-booming capital on the western shore of the Caspian Sea—live up to 80 Mountain Jews among a population of more than 6,000. The history of the Mountain Jews, who live mainly in Azerbaijan and the Russian republic of Dagestan is, according to members of the community, rooted about 2,500 years ago in their exodus from Israel, their gradual passage through Persia (where they picked up the Farsi-based language they still speak), and their eventual settlement in the Caucasus mountains.

Sitting in the dark-stone building that houses Baku’s Mountain Jewish synagogue, Semyon Ikhilov, the Mountain Jews’ national leader, shakes off the idea that his people might be descended from indigenous Caucasian mountain dwellers who converted to Judaism. “We’re real Jews who came out of Israel,” Ikhilov said, explaining that they acquired the moniker “Mountain Jews” because they settled in the peaks. “We were not mountain people.” And according to a recent genetic study [1] led by researchers in Israel and Estonia, Mountain Jews share a common origin in the Levantine region of the Near East with other Diaspora Jewish communities.

While once there were as many as 40,000 Jews in Azerbaijan, today there are between 8,000 and 25,000. The estimate varies widely in part because many of them live in Israel or Russia but still retain Azeri passports. Among those who remain in Oguz, many seem to practice a Judaism guided by the spirit of the religion rather than by the letter of its law. They live in a country where more than 90 percent of the population is Muslim, and the demanding rhythm of working on the Soviet-era kolkhoz, or collective farm, coupled with the atheism of the Soviet Union, may all have, over time, muted the zeal of the Jews of Oguz.

Yet push a bit further and an attachment to Judaism emerges. “Last night we lit the Shabbat candles,” says 30-year-old Gunai Iusupova, sitting in the airy dining room of her wooden-balconied Caucasian house. “We said a brucha and ate salted bread. I served up food prepared fresh for Shabbat.” The garden outside was bright with pale pink and deep red summer roses. “And that’s not just us, that’s all the Jews here in Oguz,” she adds, explaining that although they may not observe all the rules of Shabbat precisely, Friday night dinner is sacrosanct.

Standing in the hot sun outside one of the town’s two synagogues, Temur Natalinov, 54, who maintains both houses of worship, explained that he opens them every Shabbat. The men leave quickly, he said, but the women often linger.

Arranged marriages are not uncommon here, Racim Hananayev, 50, the leader of Oguz’s Jews, told me, even for those who leave the town. Hananayev’s wife, Dilbar, served a breakfast of egg, salty cheese, fresh bread, and thick homemade strawberry preserve. She offered met, a bitter, uniquely Caucasian condiment made from the green cherry plum.

Nowhere is the mix of Azeri and Jewish cultures more fascinating than in Krasnaya Sloboda, which sits across a river from Guba, famous throughout the Caucasus for its woven rugs. Just beyond the two settlements looms an imposing mountain, white and icy even in summer.

The two towns seem similar enough, though Krasnaya Sloboda looks more prosperous, full of houses with freshly painted brickwork, new windows, and new iron and lattice roofs mixed in among a few dilapidated wooden homes.

But the difference is more than surface deep. Krasnaya Sloboda is inhabited almost exclusively by Mountain Jews, between 2,000 and 5,000 of them, according to various estimates. In the mid-18th century the khan of Guba [2], Hussein, established Yevraiskaya Sloboda, literally “Jewish settlement,” as a place for Jews to live safe from attack. His son and successor, Feteli, so the story goes, decreed that if anyone came to attack the town, the Jews should light fires and he would see them from across the river and send help to defend the inhabitants.

The town, which was renamed “Krasnaya,” or “red,” in honor of the Soviet Red Army, has seen its population dwindle from its Communist-era height of 18,000. Some emigrants have gone to Israel, others to Moscow, where many are successful businessmen—hence the prosperous appearance of some buildings here—and where a few have become multi-millionaires, with their reputations becoming legendary back home. According to one Jewish local I spoke with, one of these titans “holds half of Moscow in his hands.”

Those that stay while away the hot days in an outdoor chaikhana, a typical Azeri teahouse, sucking on sugar cubes soaked in tea. Nearby, under the shade of chestnut trees, old men play nard, a traditional board game.

Iunus Davidov, a Jewish 19-year-old, explains that there was no work in the town and that in winter there is hardly a soul to be seen there. “It is hard,” he says. “And in winter it is so cold, it can fall to minus 35 degrees, and sometimes there is no gas or electricity.”

Nonetheless, Krasnaya Sloboda has three schools and two synagogues, with a third being beautifully restored, and in the summer nearly all the émigrés return to spend some time in their hometown, Davidov said.

“There is always a minyan, indeed we always have at least 50 people at prayer time,” says Boris Simanduyev, a community leader. “There has always been a rabbi from Krasnaya Sloboda, and there always will be.” On entering the town’s main synagogue, which is covered wall-to-wall in overlapping oriental rugs, we had removed our shoes, as is the custom here.

Rugs also cover the floor of the cool central room in the Yevdaev family home, where 32-year-old Sara Yevdaeva gathered leaves to stuff with meat to make dolma, food for relatives who were due to arrive from Moscow and Baku for the first anniversary of Sara’s mother-in-law’s death. Sara explains one of the customs of her community. “Whether it is here or in Moscow or elsewhere, Mountain Jews don’t allow their wives to work,” she says.

The hardships of winter make year-round life in the town impossible for Sara to imagine, but Moscow, where she lives for most of the year, has its difficulties too. The rise of extreme nationalism in Russia means Sara, who like many Mountain Jews looks much like any other person from the Caucasus, has experienced the racist abuse frequently leveled at people from Russia’s southern borderlands and beyond. The Mountain Jews all concur that, unlike in Russia, in Azerbaijan they have never experienced any prejudice.

This is all the more surprising, perhaps, in a country where international observers have documented increasing restrictions on freedom of expression and where dissent is often quashed. The current president, Ilham Aliyev, took over from his late father, Heydar, in 2003. Posters of both Aliyevs, in action and thoughtful repose, are everywhere. In 2009 the government amended the constitution to tighten [3] controls on religious groups, making all unregistered religious activity illegal. Those who received their religious education abroad, for example, are banned from leading religious activities.

The Azerbaijan State Committee for Work with Religious Associations, though, argues that the changes in the law on religion strengthen tolerance in the country. The committee’s press office explains that some religious leaders educated abroad had come under the influence of radicals who aimed to destroy Azerbaijan’s “tolerant atmosphere,” and the minister in charge of such matters has previously linked the 2009 moves on religion with combating Islamic fundamentalism—the threat of Wahhabism and of Islamic violence in the North Caucasus spilling over into Azerbaijan.

In late 2009, a Baku court jailed [4] 26 people for an August 2008 attack on a mosque in the capital, in which two people were killed. Those convicted claimed to be members of a radical Islamist group that is believed to have roots in the north Caucasian republic of Dagestan. Also in 2009, two Lebanese men were jailed in Baku for conspiring to attack [5] the Israeli embassy there. In 2007, the Azeri authorities said they had prevented [6] attacks on oil installations and the British and U.S. embassies planned by what they called a “radical Wahhabi group.”

Critics, however, suggest that the authorities are using the threat of fundamentalism to tighten the screws on religious communities and restrict free speech.

Evidently, the government perceives no threat from Azerbaijan’s Jewish communities, nor from Israel, with which it has a developing relationship. Shimon Peres’ 2009 trip to Baku was the most recent and highest-level visit by an Israeli dignitary, a move that angered [7] Iran. Azerbaijan—which is locked in an unresolved territorial conflict [8] with neighboring Armenia—buys arms from Israel, and there is an Israeli embassy in Baku. This relationship is doubtless appreciated by Azerbaijan’s Jews, who are courted by the authorities with official greetings on Rosh Hashanah and Pesach and visits to synagogue openings.

According to Alexander Murinson, an expert on Azerbaijan’s Jews and Azeri-Israeli relations, Azeri respect for the Jews is genuine and deeply rooted—in part stemming from the fact that in Soviet times, Jews, especially Ashkenazim, were well represented among the Azeri intellectual elite. Those Jews who stayed, he said, still have some leverage, with the Mountain Jews wielding power due to the strength of their trading clans.

There is also a more calculated political element to the relationship. In the early days of Azeri independence [9] the authorities deliberately reached out to the Jewish communities, realizing that they could be a magnet for the organized Jewish community in the United States, with its impressive lobbying power, said Murinson. And for a government sometimes accused of intolerance, its relationship with the Jewish minority seems to be put on display, not least by Jewish leaders, two of whom insisted to me that President Aliyev had repeatedly described the Mountain Jews as his brothers. Many foreign dignitaries visiting Azerbaijan find that Krasnaya Sloboda is on their itinerary, as what Murinson called a “showcase.” The state, by email, disagreed: The visits are not for show, a spokesman explained, but to meet its own high standards of tolerance.

Friday, August 27, 2010

In Honor of Elena Kagan

To say the least, we are surprised!
Three justices are Judaized!
It seems, almost, they’re heaven-sent,
Like prophets from Old Testament!

There’s Ginsburg, Breyer, Kagan! Three!
A most impressive trinity!
Each one’s a jurisprudent whiz,
These Jewish-prudent justices!

They’re forthright, geared for any fray,
From them you’ll never hear “oy vey”
Or variations likewise drear,
As in the cry “Oy vey iz mir!”

No doubt behind closed doors they’ll schmooze
(A common attribute of Jews).
Maybe they’ll group to joke and josh
And have a cordial little nosh.

Some festive Friday night, perhaps,
They’ll share a bit of wine or schnapps?
At such events, it would make sense
To practice framing arguments

For purposes of keeping sharp.
(Fit topics might be banks or TARP,
Or maybe even Roe v. Wade,
A case that still incites tirade).

No coffee-klatch or friendly tea
Could guarantee they’d all agree
On any point of legal lore:
Through verbal clash — that’s how Jews score!

(A little halvah for dessert
Is à propos and couldn’t hurt.)
In Yiddish will they sometimes speak?
Or is that language to them Greek?

As landsleit they might fraternize,
A tribal twinkle in their eyes.
They’ll quickly learn, as well befits,
Which one is Litvak, who Galitz.

Ad-Jew-dicators, they will bring
Refined Talmudic reasoning
To tasks of weighing arguments
And issuance of writs, dissents.

The Yiddish kup they will apply
To legalisms clarify.
Their quest for justice won’t be quenched!
These judges are, indeed, well benched!
(By Stanley Siegelman)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

I am Israel - Yerushalayim Version

Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York Circa 1940

The Atkins Schmaltz Diet

The Atkins Schmaltz Diet:

If you get this and you are not Jewish - I cannot even begin to explain -

T his actually goes back 2 generations - or 3 if you are under 50!

I miss it all and can't help but wonder how did my grandparents have a nonexistent cholesterol.

The Atkins Schmaltz Diet.

Before we start, there are some variations in ingredients because of the various types of Jewish taste.. (Polack, Litvack and Gallicianer).

Just as we Jews have six seasons of the year (winter, spring, summer, fall, the slack season, and the busy season), we all focus on a main ingredient which, unfortunately and undeservedly, has disappeared from our diet. I'm talking, of course, about SCHMALTZ (chicken fat).

SCHMALTZ has, for centuries, been the prime ingredient in almost every Jewish dish, and I feel it's time to revive it to its rightful place in our homes. (I have plans to distribute it in a green glass Gucci bottle with a label clearly saying: "low fat, no cholesterol, Newman's Choice, extra virgin SCHMALTZ." (It can't miss!)

Let's start, of course, with the "forshpeiz" (appetizer). Gehockteh leiber (chopped liver) with SCHMALTZ is always good, but how about something more exotic for your dear ones, like boiled whitefish in yoyech (soup) which sets into a jelly form, or "gefilteh miltz" (stuffed spleen), in which the veins are removed (thank God), and it is fried in (you guessed it) SCHMALTZ, bread crumbs, eggs, onions, salt and pepper..

Love it! How about stewed lingen (lungs) -- very chewy -- or gehenen (brains) -- very slimy. Am I making your mouth water yet?

Then there are (grebenes -- pieces of chicken skin, deep fried in SCHMALTZ, onions and salt until crispy brown (Jewish bacon).

This makes a great appetizer for the next cardiologist's convention.

Another favorite, and I'm sure your children will love it, is pe'tcha (jellied calves' feet). Simply chop up some cows' feet with your hockmesser (handl-chopper), add some meat, onions, lots of garlic, SCHMALTZ again, salt and pepper, cook for five hours and let it sit over night. You might want to serve it with oat bran and bananas for an interesting breakfast (just joking!).

There's also a nice chicken fricassee (stew) using the heart, gorgle (neck), pipick (a great delicacy, given to the favorite child, usually me), a fleegle (wing) or two, some ayelech (little premature eggs) and other various chicken innards, in a broth of SCHMALTZ, water, paprika, etc..

We also have knishes (filled dough) and the eternal question, "Will that be liver, beef or potatoes, or all three?"

Other time-tested favorites are kishkeh, and its poor cousin, helzel (chicken or goose neck). Kishkeh is the gut of the cow, bought by the foot at the Kosher butcher.. It is turned inside out, scalded and scraped. One end is sewn up and a mixture of flour, SCHMALTZ, onions, eggs, salt, pepper, etc., is spooned into the open end and squished down until it is full. The other end is sewn and the whole thing is boiled. Yummy!

My personal all-time favorite is watching my Zaida (grandpa) munch on boiled chicken feet. Try that on the kinderlach (children) tomorrow.

For our next course we always had chicken soup with pieces of yellow-white, rubbery chicken skin floating in a greasy sea of lokshen (noodles), farfel (broken bits of matzah), arbiss (chickpeas), lima beans, pietrishkeh, tzibbeles (onions), mondlech (soup nuts), kneidlach(dumplings), kasha, (groats) kliskelech and marech (marrow bones)

The main course, as I recall, was either boiled chicken, flanken, kackletten (hockfleish--chopped meat), and sometimes rib steaks, which were served either well done, burned or cremated.

Occasionally we had barbecued liver done to a burned and hardened perfection in our own coal furnace.

Since we couldn't have milk with our meat meals, beverages consisted of cheap soda (Kik, Dominion Dry, seltzer in the spritz bottles) or glezel tay (glass of hot tea) served in a yahrtzeit (memorial candle) glass and sucked through a sugar cube held between the incisors.

Desserts were probably the only things not made with SCHMALTZ, so we never had any Momma never learned how to make SCHMALTZ Jell-O.

Well, now you know the secret of how I've grown up to be so tall, sinewy, slim and trim, energetic, extremely clever and modest, and if you want your children to grow up to be like me, you're a gohnsen meshuggah (completely nuts)!

ZEIT MIR GEZUNT. (go in good health).... and order out Chinese.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Lowly Spirit

A musical interpretation of a poem by Shlomo ibn Gabirol (ca. 1021-ca.1058).

With All My Heart

devotional poem by Yehuda Halevi (ca. 1075-1141) set to music and sung.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Time-Travelers From a Golden Age

Time-Travelers From a Golden Age
'Cantors, Klezmorim and Crooners 1905-1953,' a 3-CD set of U.S. recordings, brings the past to vivid life


Two intertwining traditions of music—jazz and Jewish—became part of my life in early childhood. Hearing a cantor, or hazan, in passionate dialogue with God on the human condition at an Orthodox synagogue during the High Holidays in 1932 when I was 7 set me on fire. A couple of years later at a Jewish wedding, I was nearly lifted into the dancing by a rollicking klezmer band, especially by its swinging, playful clarinetist.

Molly Picon, a musical star of the Yiddish stage and screen, is one of the performers in this collection.

During a break in the music, the clarinetist, noting my awe as I looked at him, leaned over, winked, and said: "Where do you think Benny Goodman came from?"

But it was Artie Shaw, not Benny, who hurled me into jazz when, at 11, I heard his "Nightmare." Years after, I learned that "Nightmare" was based on a cantorial nigun, or wordless melody, and I understand why Artie, in his retrospective "Self Portrait" (RCA Victor/Bluebird), said: "Certainly, I can't deny the influence of my Russian-Jewish ancestry."

In the early 1950s, because Artie had led me to Duke Ellington, the blues and Count Basie, I became New York editor of Down Beat. My first working visit was to Birdland ("the jazz center of the world," as it advertised itself). But my next was a pilgrimage to the Lower East Side to hear the legendary—at least to Jewish musicians—clarinetist Dave Tarras.

Still part of both worlds, I have many books on the musical and social history of jazz, including discographies. But until now I've owned nothing of substance on the nearly 6,000 Yiddish or Hebrew recordings released in the U.S. between 1898 and 1942, and especially the golden age of Yiddish 78s from 1905 to 1953.

At last, though, from Klezmer clarinetist Sherry Mayrent's collection of Yiddish 78s—as far as I know the largest in the world—there now comes a gloriously wide-ranging compilation from those golden years: "Cantors, Klezmorim and Crooners 1905-1953" (JASP Records, available on There are 67 tracks in this three-CD set, including 42 never before reissued. Because of the extraordinary skills of engineer Christopher King, all of them bring you into the very presence of these carriers of the Yiddish ethos. At home in the Boston ghetto, I had grown up with a few of these, but they didn't sound as if the performers were actually in the room with me. They do now.

As a Jewish kid growing up in then virulently anti-Semitic Boston—a place where Henry Brooks Adams, grandson of John Quincy Adams, could say without censure that "snarling a weird Yiddish . . . the Jew makes me creep"—I got a kick out of defiantly playing this music at a proud volume.

But as the years went on, these American Jewish recordings from that era became hard to find. Ms. Mayrent amassed her collection—now at 5,000 records and still growing—from collectors in America, Canada, Israel, South America, Russia and other countries with transplanted Jews. In her introduction to the CD set, she describes why they became so rare: "Archives did have rudimentary catalogs, but they restricted access to individuals demonstrating some serious academic purpose, and either did not permit copying the discs or charged extremely high per-side fees."

Until now, I had no idea of the range and the striking individuality of these Yiddish stage singers, actors, cantors, comics and instrumentalists. For one example, in my youth women had to sit in the balcony of Orthodox synagogues, and the notion of a woman cantor was inconceivable to me. Yet several powerful female cantors from back then are included here.

The producer of this set, copies of which I intend to give to my children and grandchildren, is Henry Sapoznik, whom I've known for years as a scholar of klezmer music. He will soon head the new Mayrent Institute of Yiddish Culture to be located on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He wrote the notes for each track from his fount of historical and anecdotal knowledge of Yiddish culture and history.

Among the vivid time-travelers of this cast is cantor Berle Chagy, born in Latvia in 1892, who came to America around 1909 to avoid army conscription, as my father had from the Old Country some years later. For Jews, the army was worse than the ghetto. As Mr. Sapoznik notes, "Chagy displays a powerful lyrical tenor and a breathtakingly ethereal falsetto rendered with spectacular and seamless abandon." Hearing him I was back in shul, next to my father.

And from 1915 there is the first klezmer ensemble to record in America, Elenkrig's Yiddishe Orchestra playing the spirited "The Rabbi's Melody" from the Hasidic vocal tradition. I hope Mr. Sapoznik will unearth a set of such joyously melodic Hasidic religious services. Elie Wiesel has called the Hasidic sages "souls of fire," like their music.

Soon after moving to New York in 1953, I went to Second Avenue, where Yiddish theater flourished, to see a musical star of that genre, Molly Picon. Here she is, "petite and pixieish" as Mr. Sapoznik describes her, singing "Katya, laughs at the world and goes her own way."

I'm also glad to be introduced to comic and actor Fyvush Finkel ("Picket Fences," "Boston Public") singing "Ich Bin a Boarder Ba Mein Weib" ("I Board at My Wife's"), which for years was a favorite Jewish song, particularly among some husbands for his recipe for a tranquil marriage. A typical lyric: "What an improvement in our lives. No more problems, never harried. We are happily unmarried. I am a boarder at my wife's."

For zestful Yiddish swing, there is Abe Schwartz. Born in Romania, he came here in 1899, and formed a band with "swooping trombones, staccato banjo," and a powerful front line of fiddler Schwartz and the magical clarinetist I yearned to be, Dave Tarras.

Dark Yiddish memories are memorialized by cantor David Roitman in "The Trumpet Has Sounded," based on a poem attributed to the 11th-century Rabbi Ammon of Mainz. Despite being under continued pressure to convert, this rabbi refused and "was arrested, his hands and feet severed," writes Mr. Sapoznick. Mortally wounded though he was, Rabbi Ammon "asked to be carried to the synagogue after extemporaneously reciting this prayer" that was later set to music.

That reminded me of my mother's story of being a child in the Old Country, which could have been put to music. One day her mother heard the Cossacks were coming and popped her daughter into the oven. Fortunately it was not lit.

In one of the rarest of all Yiddish recordings, Sholom Aleichem speaks a few lines from his "If I Were Rothschild" during a 1915 test recording at a Victor studio. When he stopped, the engineer called out "Is that all you got?" and the recording was never issued. When Aleichem died 10 months later, 500,000 people attended his funeral. On that day in the studio, he said that if he were a Rothschild, "First I'd give my wife a three-ruble note so that when it comes time to shop for Shabbos, she'll have the note in her pocket and won't have to bother me." But he'd also "Buy this house, and give her everything from the cellar to the attic." He wasn't just a boarder.

On "Tartar Dance," the first track of this recovery of Yiddish resilience in music and life, another clarinetist, Naftule Brandwein—"If he didn't exist, he would have had to be invented," says Mr. Sapoznik—exults in being descended from a line of Hasidic rabbis. "Even at the end of his life when he was playing in Catskill hotels," Mr. Sapoznik admiringly and candidly tells us, "a drunken Brandwein was reported to have been "'propped up in a chair and blowing like crazy.'"

In my neighborhood when I was a boy, I often heard: "Schwer being a Yid" ("Hard being a Jew"). Not always.
—Mr. Hentoff writes about jazz for the Journal.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Jews Don't Camp!

Here are the lyrics-----
I was packin' my gear after a festival appearance
The show had gone real good.
When a bunch of people with a kind of earthy smell
Said "We're stayin' out in these woods,"
They said, "We'd like you to join us, got plenty of room
We got a nice big tent and there's a big full moon,"
Well I stood upwind and said the only thing that I could...

I had to tell 'em...

Jews Don't Camp,
If it hasn't got a lobby I don't want it for a hobby
It's cold and damp,
Let me give you the news,
Jews Don't Camp.

Well now it's really quite simple, a part of my tradition
Taught to me in my youth
After forty years in the desert the eleventh commandment says
Go to bed under a roof.
I'm pretty certain I could live without real bear hugs,
Ain't keen to be cuisine for half a million bugs
And ten times out of ten I pick bagels over berries and roots.

That's why I gotta say...

Jews Don't Camp,
If it hasn't got a kitchen and it isn't air conditioned, where's the
Exit ramp, get my walkin' shoes, cause
Jews Don't camp.

If I was a Gentile
I would love to fish and hunt and get my water from a stream
But until there's seltzer in the brook
Or maybe a nice egg cream... hey!

Jews Don't Camp
Using leaves instead of Charmin may be fine if you're Mormon, but I'm
Not that stamp, so I gotta refuse, but
Jews Don't Camp ... la la la. oy la la la

If you're sleeping bag is tiltin' you can find me at the Hilton, cause
Jews Don't Camp
If you're tired of the diet come and meet me at the Hyatt, babe
Jews Don't Camp
When you sit down to a seder no one there is wearing waders, no
Jews Don't Camp
I got a giant television, it's a perk of circumcision, 'cause
Jews Don't Camp

Jewish State of Mind

In case you aint no rapper-----Here be de lyrics-----


No matta the time of day, no matter the weather,
I'd have it no other way, I'll be Jew fo eva,
No I ain't a Rabbi, but I rock a yarmulke,
And every December that's when I celebrate Hannukah
Hannukah's the bombest, don't wanna create fights,
But instead of celebratin 1, we go 8 nights,
That's the holiday when, I light the menorah,
With my fam', singin as we all dance the horah,
I eat that pastrami, on a roll or rye bread,
You can tell I'm Jewish by the dark hair up on my head,
I drink Manischewitz wine, like it ain't nothin,
But before I take a sip, boray peri hagafen,
And before I walk through front doors I check if,
I see a mezuzah i give it a little kiss,
Yeah I keep it kosher, No it ain't hard to see
Tell by my Seder dish , that I most definitely

Don't eat pork, but I eat that potato knish,
And that gefilte fish, I can't consume pork,
My Mother really wants me to, marry another jew
Who can't consume pork, 'sume pork, 'sume pork

Watch me when I'm bored, I'm madd skilled with a dreidel,
Or see me servin' matzoh ball soup with a ladle,
I had a Bar Mitzvah, that's when I became a man,
Biggest moment of my life was nervous when that day began,
My dad's an accountant, that means he's his own boss,
And he likes his potato latkes dipped in apple sauce,
Passover, Rosh Hashanah, Purim, I have a blast,
But on Yom Kippur, it's the worst, cause i gotta fast,
Rock a Star of Savid, and I feel so alive,
Wear it on the Sabbath on the day that I cannot drive,
When I sit down for dinner, I don't wanna risk it,
So I close my eyes, look to skies, and I pray for brisket,
With a side of Matzoh, I love it but don't know why,
It tastes just like cardboard, and it is totally dry,
But one thing that tastes good, is what we Jews call gelt,
Keep some in my pocket, hope that they don't all melt.

I don't eat pork, but i eat that potato knish,
And that gefilte fish, I can't consume pork,
My Mother really wants me to, marry another jew,
Who can't consume pork, 'sume pork, 'sume pork