Thursday, May 30, 2013

Nina Simone: Eretz Zavat Chalav U'dvash

Nina Simone Sings Milk & Honey
Few songs capture the feeling of a people in exile like "Eretz Zavat Halav." Taken from a biblical passage, it speaks of Israel's abundant natural produce (milk and honey, especially), from the perspective of a people yearning for a better life. Few people sing it with the exquisite mixture of joy and longing as Nina Simone, the eloquent and sublime (non-Jewish) jazz singer, in this little-known live video performance with her band from the 1960s.
It's likely that Ms. Simone learned this song from Shlomo Carlebach, who she met in the 1950s, while they were both getting their starts in their chosen careers: Carlebach playing the folk circuit, Simone as a lounge singer.

Through her other musical work, and her role in the Civil Rights Movement, Simone stayed linked to several prominent Jewish ventures. On her 1965 album Pastel Blues, she also covered the song "Strange Fruit," written by a Jewish songwriter about lynchings in the South. But "Eretz Zavat Halav" is probably her most resplendent entry into the Jewish songbook, capturing both the longing of someone in exile, and the distant memory of how good it feels to be home.

- Matthue Roth

Friday, May 17, 2013

The 50 most influential Jews in the world according to the Jerusalem Post:

The 50 most influential Jews in the world according to the Jerusalem Post:
1. Yair Lapid
2. Jack Lew
3. Binyamin Netanyahu
4. Shimon Peres
5. Anat Hoffman
6. Sergey Brin
7. Jon Stewart
8. Sheryl Sandberg
9. Moshe Ya’alon
10. Debbie Wasserman Schultz
11. Eric Cantor
12. Elena Kagan
13. Steven Spielberg
14. Jill Abramson
15. Naftali Bennett
16. Mark Zuckerberg
17. Michael Bloomberg
18. Lena Dunham
19. Moshe Kantor
20. Ed Miliband
21. Sumner Redstone
22. Scooter Braun
23. Elie Wiesel
24. Howard Kohr
25. Natan Sharansky
26. David Saperstein
27. Aharon Lichtenstein
28. Ben Smith
29. Michael Chabon
30. Sara Netanyahu
31. Diane von F├╝rstenberg
32. Matthew Bronfman
33. Ester Levanon
34. Shari Arison
35. Rakefet Russak-Aminoach
36. David Grossman
37. Ronald S. Lauder
38. Bar Refaeli
39. Yityish Aynaw
40. Dror Moreh
41. Ruth Westheimer
42. Michael D. Siegal
43. Nir Barkat
44. Yosef Abramowitz
45. Yotam Ottolenghi
46. Eve Ensler
47. Idan Raichel
48. Ephrat Levy-Lahad
49. Efi Stenzler
50. The commissioners of the NHL, NBA and MLB