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Funky Jewish Songs for Pesach

By Ben Bresky
4/12/2009, 12:00 AM

From heavy metal to punk rock to traditional ethnic table pounders, Passover has some great music. Here are some more modern renditions of the holiday of matzah.

Although still in his 20's, Yerachmiel "Rocky" Ziegler has done it all from metal to hasidic boy bands to starring in Uncle Moishy tapes. Although his latest release is a collaboration with Aaron Razel, his music released as the duo Yossi and Yerachmiel spawned a great version of Mah Nishtanah. Here it is downloadable for free from Sameach Music. Here is my article with Yerachmiel on his band Optimystical.

David De'or, (also spelled David D'or) the Israeli pop singer with the operatic voice, has a new version of Vehi Sheamda. Here he is singing it for Arutz Sheva's Israel National TV.



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Yigal Bashan - This old school Israeli singer began in the 1970s with Uzi Hitman. He has a great version of Mah Nistanah. I couldn't find it on YouTube, but I did find a video of him wearing an awesome red and grey suit.

Hebrew University's Jewish Music Resource Center has some great super old mp3s downloadable for free. So if you're into 1940's Yiddish versions of Passover songs, click here. The JMRC has saved a lot of random musical traditions and released them on CD. The albums include Music of the Mountain Jews and Jewish Women's Songs from India.

Rehov Sumsum is the Israeli version of Sesame Street. In this vintage episode, one of the muppets gets drunk on Passover wine.

Reva L'Sheva - This Carlebach inspired rock group mixes Jewish prayers with a Grateful Dead rock feel. They have a version of Dayenu that we have in rotation on our live stream on Israel National Radio.com, but I can't actually find it on any of their albums. If you know, leave me a talkback. On their latest, they have a light reggae tinged song in English called Jumpin' in the Red Sea. You can hear it on their MySpace site here.

The singer for this particular track is Adam Wexler, who before moving to Israel, used to play with Prince. When I interviewed him he said he never actually played with Prince, only some of the Prince band members. I'd like to think he was just being modest bcause I think it's cool to have one of Prince's musicians roaming around Israel playing Passover music.

Yehoram Gaon - One of most well known best loved Israeli performers, still going strong since the 1960s, has a Passover album featuring Hebrew as well as Ladino, the language of the Spanish Jewish community from the pre-Inquisition days.

Amaseffer - Their CD Slaves for Life is the first in a trilogy about the Passover story. This Israeli progressive metal band won Best CD on USA Progressive Music. You can real my full length interview with them here, and download the podcast here.

Yidcore - They have versions of Dayenu and Vehi Sheamda in the traditional melodies done punk rock style. But Yidcore doesn't just yell and scream. They add little touches making them more then just parodies. I interviewed Yidcore last year when they toured Israel for Passover. They wore matching t-shirts for each of the 4 sons in the Hagaddah. It was cool seeing people mosh to Dayenu. Here is a photo of us outside the Yellow Submarine in Jerusalem. I'm the one in the back looking normal, not the one holding the Israel National Radio sticker. The t-shirt on the guy with the red dreadlocks says "The People's Front of Judea." If you know what that's a reference to, leave me a talkback. 

Tuvia Bolton - This American born Israeli singer has a great rocking version of Echad Mi Yodeah. Here's an Arutz 7 video interview with him.

Lars Fredricksen - The lead singer of Rancid has a song called The Ten Plagues of Egypt. If anyone knows if he has any Jewish connection, let me know. I like it when he chants about "lice, frogs and hail". In the 1990s Rancid had a song called Time Bomb and the Steits Matzo factory can be seen in the video.

Metallica - Creeping Death - Released in 1984, this song is about the Ten Plagues, mostly the slaying of the first born. None of the members of Metallica are Jewish. I supposed the history of the Jewish people just makes for great punk rock and heavy metal music. Although my friend Eli says that Purim is better for punk rock and Passover is better for metal. You can leave a talkback if you agree.

Remedy - This Jewish rapper is known for his striking Holocaust hip hop song Never Again originally released on the 1998 compilation Wu Tang Killa Bees. Exodus is from his second album. On his web site he has a new unreleased song about the history of Israel.

Matt Bar - The self described Bible Rapper got his start teaching Hebrew School. The students became more interested when he would rap the lessons. Here's his Moses Rap produced by Doogree studios in Jerusalem.

Mimuna - This holiday is celebrated by the Jewish community of Morocco. It means Emunah, or faith, and comes the night Passover ends. It features traditional Jewish Moroccan food such as baklava, mufletta and other pasteries. Each food represents something, so if you need a blessing or a certain thing, go to a Mimuna celebration and they can tell you which food corresponds. Let me know in the talkback section if you know of any great Mimuna music I can play.

If you have a favorite Passover song I missed, leave me a talkback!