Reviving the Music of the Last Jewish Record Label Left Standing Under Nazi Rule

Dec. 19 2016

In 1932, Hirsch Levin founded Semer Records, a label devoted to producing and preserving the music of Jewish Berlin. Six years later, on Kristallnacht, the Nazis burned 4,500 of Semer’s records, subsequently destroying all of its master recordings and murdering most of its artists. For nearly 50 years, this music was thought lost until, scouring the globe for surviving records, a German musicologist successfully reconstituted much of Semer’s catalogue.

Now a group of Jewish musicians calling themselves the Semer Ensemble has recorded an album of twelve of these rescued songs. Rescued Treasure covers a range of styles from cabaret to pop originally sung by the German Jewish star Willy Rosen.

Among the five Yiddish-language songs on the album is “Scholem Baith” (“domestic tranquility”), about a dysfunctional couple who repeatedly argue and make up. “With its absurd threats of suicide,” Jordan Kutzik writes, “vicious curses and an over-the-top yet unironic sensibility, the routine serves as a charming remnant of a nearly-forgotten Yiddish cabaret tradition.”

Listen to one of the songs here:

Read more at Forward

More about: Arts & Culture, German Jewry, History & Ideas, Kristallnacht, Music

Israel Has Survived Eight Years of Barack Obama’s False Friendship

Jan. 20 2017

In his speech justifying America’s decision to allow passage of the UN Security Council resolution declaring it a violation of international law for Jews to live in east Jerusalem, the West Bank, or the Golan Heights, Secretary of State John Kerry declared that “friends need to tell each other the hard truths.” John Podhoretz comments:

The decision in December by President Obama to abstain on the UN Security Council vote . . . marked the moment he crossed the finish line in the course he had charted from 2008 onward. The turn against Israel was complete. And, as he had when he began it, in farewell interview after farewell interview he characterized his assault on the legitimacy of the Jewish presence in the Holy Land as an act of tough love. . . .

Which raises the key question: why [only] abstain [from the resolution]? If “hard truths” define friendship, then by all means they should have made the truths as hard as possible. If Barack Obama and John Kerry truly believe the Jewish presence in east Jerusalem is illicit, then they should have voted for the resolution. Instead, they took the coward’s way out. They opened the vault to the criminals and placed the jewels in their hands while wearing white gloves so there would be no residual trace of their fingerprints. The abstention was in some weird sense the mark of their bad conscience. They wanted something to happen while maintaining some historical deniability about their involvement in it.

In the eight years of the Obama presidency, war broke out twice between the Palestinians and the Israelis and nearly broke out a third time. In each case, the issue was not the West Bank, or east Jerusalem, or anything near. . . . The idea that the settlements and the Jewish presence in East Jerusalem are the main barrier to peace between Israel and the Palestinians was proved to be a lie right before Obama’s eyes in 2009, and 2012, and 2014. And he didn’t care to see it, because he is blinded by an antipathy he wishes to ascribe to Israeli action when honesty would compel him to find it in his own misguided leftist ideology—or within his own soul.

Israel has survived the horrendous blessing of Barack Obama’s false friendship.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Barack Obama, Israel & Zionism, John Kerry, U.S. Foreign policy, US-Israel relations