Visu­al Arts

And You Shall Know Us by the Trail of our Vinyl

Roger Ben­nett and Josh Kun
  • Review
By – January 5, 2012
Is there such a thing as Jew­ish” pop-cul­ture? Does it exist or did it ever? As Jews, it has always been fun to rec­og­nize our people’s unique impact on Amer­i­can pop­u­lar cul­ture, from Sein­feld, to the Beast­ie Boys, to Woody Allen, but, what about our Yid­dish cul­ture? Many mod­ern day Jews are not even aware of our rich musi­cal and the­atri­cal Yid­dish her­itage that tru­ly tells the sto­ry of our immi­gra­tion and assim­i­la­tion into Amer­i­can soci­ety. Now, thanks to Roger Ben­nett and Josh Kun, our musi­cal her­itage has been mapped through their new book, And You Shall Know Us By The Trail Of Our Vinyl

Jews have always been drawn to the enter­tain­ment indus­try, and this book con­nects the dots for read­ers, from our involve­ment in our own musi­cal cul­ture to the main­stream. Although some­times a bit too schol­ar­ly, this book is per­fect for anyone’s cof­fee table. Ben­nett and Kun have amassed hun­dreds of pic­tures of Yid­dish and Jew­ish album cov­ers, and it’s tru­ly a joy to flip through the pages, exam­in­ing each unique cov­er. The authors begin at the begin­ning, trac­ing our involve­ment in music to famous can­tors who were treat­ed by com­mu­ni­ties like rock stars and whose album sales would make Brit­tany Spears jeal­ous. They move on to exam­ine the Israeli inva­sion” and dis­cuss Jews’ uncan­ny abil­i­ty to adopt oth­er musi­cal cul­tures, such as Latin music, and make them our own.

Ben­nett and Kun have writ­ten a won­der­ful time cap­sule, a work that is a per­fect gift for any­one who has a pas­sion for music, and a pas­sion for the his­to­ry of their Jew­ish culture.

Adam Teeter is the direc­tor of audi­ence devel­op­ment at Tablet Mag­a­zine and the co-founder of VinePair.

Discussion Questions