Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Jewish Music Blogs

A lot of buzz lately in that subgroup of the Jewish Blog-o-Sphere, Jewish Music blogs. Even smaller than the already small world of Jewish Bloggers, they are a possibly interesting group because “Orthodox Jewish Music” is of intrinsic importance to the Orthodox Jewish community (and to the larger Jewish community). One cannot escape Jewish music at simchas and the concert scene has become fairly mainstreamed. And it is a fundamental part of the Orthodox Identity of many Orthodox Jews. I think that this is significant, to say the least.

I have two observations about the Jewish Music Blog Scene.
1) They are some of the only people consistently keeping an eye on Jewish musicians and keeping people who are not musicians abreast of what’s going on. Which I think is a good thing.

2) I have been thinking about a topic of interest to the Jewish Music Blogging scene, quality. They want Jewish music to be “rocking” or “spiritual”. Now, personally, I don’t really see a need for either. If I wanted really “rocking” music I would not be looking for Jewish music. If I wanted spirituality, I would be going on an Eilat Hayyim Retreat. Or if I wanted less investment, I would daven in a Shul where noone talked or maybe attend a meditation class. What I find of interest is that the Jewish Music Bloggers don’t seem to get the point of Music in the Orthodox Jewish community, mainly to maintain their Orthodox Jewish identity. A useful model for maintaining quality of Jewish music would be Emmanuel Levinas. He had two types of writings, his general philosophical writings and his Jewish “Parochial” (his word not mine) writing. Now, if one studies both types of writings, one easily sees that the latter are philosophical, more accessible than his general philosophic writings. But they help ordinary well educated Jews develop a sophisticated philosophical Judaism.

The parallel is as follows: Jewish Music is not going to be the most “Spiritual” or “Rocking” music. Rather, it is going to be the soundtrack of different Jewish communities. Now, we hope that it will be a good soundtrack, but, let’s be honest, it’s not the focus of the movie.

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