June 15, 2024
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June 15, 2024
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The 1980’s featured a number of memorable rock bands including a particular group famous for their bizarre, gravity-defying hairdos. The band was called A Flock of Seagulls and their big hit was “I Ran,” which, for the record, was not a love song to Tehran. Wouldn’t it be fun to transform the name of this band into something more Jewish? In this case, it would be easy because A Flock of Seagulls would simply become A Flock of Siegels.

You may be wondering whether there is a historical connection between Jews and music. As it turns out, music was relevant as far back as during the time of the Holy Temple. The Talmud tells us: “And the one who says that the musicians were Levites holds that the primary component of song in the Temple service is the music played with instruments. Therefore, the musicians had to be Levites, who were tasked with the song that was part of the Temple service.” (Arakhin 11a) It thus appears that the Leviim may have been the first organized Jewish musical group, but one without groupies, Grammys or a recording contract.

The Talmud also discusses the types of musical instruments that were and were not played during the Temple service. Apparently, hydraulic organs were not used because they disturbed the tunes that were played and/or sung: “There was no hirdolim in the Temple. The Gemara asks: What is a hirdolim? Abaye said: It is a hydraulic organ. It was not used in the Temple because its sound is pleasant but it disrupts the melody.” (Arakhin 11). Other musical instruments that likely were not used in the Temple include a Casio keyboard, synsonic drums and an electric guitar.

The Talmud also tells us that “there was an instrument called magreifa in the Temple… The magreifa was one cubit wide and one cubit tall, and a handle protruded from it. It was hollow and there were ten holes in it and each one would produce one hundred types of tone. It therefore emerges that the entire instrument emitted one thousand types of tone.” (Arakhin 11) In other words, the magreifa likely had enough tone-width to play a song as wide-ranging as Bohemian Rhapsody.

In the world of modern music, there are many musical groups with names that, on their face, sound Jewish. A few examples of these include the 1970’s group Bread (Jews love baked goods) along with the 1980’s groups Genesis (self-explanatory) and Black Sabbath (like when you spend a mid-winter Shabbat in Utqiaġvik, Alaska).

Some rock groups have names that can easily be tweaked to sound more Jewish. For example, the 1980’s featured a legendary group called Air Supply. Jews, especially those attending a kiddush, are less focused on the supply of air and are more focused on the supply of herring. For this reason, the Jewish version of Air Supply would be “Herr” Supply. Another food-inspired change would apply to Crosby Stills and Nash, which would become Crosby, Stills & Nosh, whereas Nine Inch Nails would become Nine Inch Noodles. For Jews who love dessert, The Allman Brothers would become The Almond Horn Brothers

Other rock group names are even easier to make more Jewish-sounding. For instance, (i) Motley Crew would become Motley Jew, (ii) The Beach Boys would become The Beach Bochers, (iii) The Doors would become The L’Dor va-Doors and (iv) Rage Against the Machine would become Rachmones for the Meshugas.

Changing other rock group names into something more Jewish-sounding would require some Hebrew and/or Yiddish twists. For instance, Guns N’ Roses would become Gonifs N’ Rachmones and The Grateful Dead would become The Grateful Dreck. Below is a list of several additional rock bands along with their more Jewish-sounding names:

1. Backstreet Boys would become Backstreet Boychiks

2. Limp Bizkit would become Soggy Kichel

3. The Dave Matthews Band would become The Dovid Mordechai Band

4. The Cure would become Matzah Ball Soup

5. Depeche Mode would become Tipesh Matzah

6. Panic at the Disco would become Turis at the Siyum

7. Foreigner would become Stranger in a Strange Land

8. Green Day would become Yom Yarok

9. The Who would become Mi Hu Zeh?

10. Journey would become Tiyul

11. Red Hot Chili Peppers would become Red Hot Cholent Poppers

12. Linkin Park would become Yarkon Park

13. Led Zeppelin would become Lox Zei-Gezunt

14. The Rolling Stones would come The Rolling Streits

15. Men at Work would become Menches at Kollel

16. Talking Heads would become Talking Yentas

17. Dire Straits would become Oy-Vey Izmir

18. The Smashing Pumpkins would become The Potching Etrogs

19. No Doubt would become B’Vadai

20. The Mama & The Papas would become The Bubbies and the Zaides

Final Thought: To some Jews, “rock & roll” sounds more like a reference to two pieces of bread, one extremely stale and the other perfectly edible.

By Jon Kranz


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