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’s Economy Thrives While the Middle East Disintegrates

Jan. 19 2018

Now that the data have come in from 2017, it is clear that the Israeli economy had another successful year, expanding at a rate higher than that of any other advanced country. Israel’s per-capita GDP also grew, placing it above those of France and Japan. Daniel Kryger notes some of the implications regarding the Jewish state’s place in the Middle East:

The contrast between first-world Israel and the surrounding third-world Arab states is larger today than ever before. Israel’s GDP per capita is almost twenty times the GDP per capita of impoverished Egypt and five times larger than semi-developed Lebanon.

Like any human project, Israel is a never-ending work in progress and much work remains to integrate ḥaredi Jews and Israeli Arabs into Israel’s knowledge economy. Properly addressing Israel’s high costs of living requires more economic and legislative reforms and breaking up inefficient oligopolies that keep the prices artificially high. However, by any standard, the reborn Jewish state is a remarkable success story. . . .

Much has changed since OPEC launched its oil embargo against the West after the failed Arab aggression against Israel in October 1973. Before the collapse of the pro-Arab Soviet empire, China and India had no official ties with Israel and many Western and Japanese companies avoided doing business with Israel. Collapsing oil prices have dramatically eroded the power of oil-producing countries. It has become obvious that the future belongs to those who innovate, not those who happen to sit on oil. Israel has today strong commercial ties with China and a thriving partnership with India. Business delegations from Jamaica to Japan are eager to do business with Israel and benefit from Israel’s expertise. . . .

[For its part], the boycott, divest, and sanction (BDS) movement may bully Jewish and pro-Israel students on Western campuses. However, in real life, BDS stands no chance of succeeding against Israel. The reason is simple: reborn Israel has . . . become too valuable a player in the global economy.

Read more at Mida

More about: BDS, Israel & Zionism, Israeli economy, Middle East, OPEC