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Oct 9 2013

This Pregnant Ladino Pop Star is Amazing

By at 2:07 pm

It’s not often we hear of a Ladino (Judeo-Spanish dialect) singing pop star with contemporary style such as Sarah Aroeste, a Sephardic singer who has spent the past 10 years harmonizing the sounds of tradition and modernity for audiences around the world.

Ladino dialect originated by Spanish Jews after their expulsion from Spain in 1492, and although it’s a fairly difficult language to come by, Ladino music is experiencing a slight revival, especially with singers such as Aroeste.

Even better, her video for “Ensuenyo Te Vi” features Sarah walking around in cork wedges, pool side, accompanied by a muscular man and cascades of roses. Oh yeah, and did we mention she was six months pregnant when the video was shot? And that she looks amazing? It’s worth a watch. Enjoy!

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Oct 7 2013

How the Maccabeats Helped Me Breastfeed

By at 5:02 pm
the maccabeats

Via Flickr/NewYorkBrass


Like so many of us, my love for The Maccabeats started innocently enough with their “Candlelight” YouTube hit.

But now my passing admiration has blossomed into a much deeper and holistic appreciation of their music and purpose.

Coming from the deep southwest, we simply don’t have many (any?) Jewish musical groups to speak of. The whole concept of a Jewish boy band or a cappella group was entirely foreign to me until I heard The Maccabeats sing in their matching white shirts and yarmulkes.

My non-Jewish husband was so entertained by their Hanukkah video; he went so far as to purchase their album and surprised me with it. When he blasted it out, I remember hot tears of joy streaming down my cheeks. I had never heard Lekhah Dodi sound so beautiful. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 1 2013

Let’s Talk About Tikkun Olam, Y’all

By at 9:51 am


With the exception of the occasional “y’all” that always elicits a chuckle, I think I have shed most of my Texan idiosyncrasies since I have been on the East Coast for over a decade now.

I do still cling to the music though, and once I drop my kids off at daycare in the morning I blast my country music until the windows rattle. To me, country music is about real life, love and loss, patriotism and simple pleasures. There are sagas of cheating lovers, brawls in honky-tonks, and heroic tales of our soldiers. Country music is my escape. One song will make me laugh out loud while the next will bring tears to my eyes. That’s country and I love it.

Country music is also filled with references to God and while the lyrics sometimes clash with my Jewish perspective, I appreciate the faith of the artists and the reminder that despite my hardships, there is a Greater Being looking out for the ones I love. But sometimes I hear a line from a song and I think to myself… hold up, that is definitely not Jewish. That was my reaction to a song I heard for the first time the other day as I was driving to work. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 19 2013

Finding the Perfect Lullabies for My Daughter

By at 10:11 am

lullabies illustrationAfter reading Elissa Strauss’ recent post, The Best Lullabies Turn Out to Be Jewish, I got to thinking about the songs I sing to my daughter when she goes to bed.

Before my little girl was born, I set out on a mission to find non-traditional lullabies. I didn’t want to croon about bows breaking and cradles falling or trying to buy my daughter’s peace and quiet with diamond rings. And really… who’s buying their babies diamond rings? And that’s the consolation prize only if the mocking bird doesn’t sing? Sheesh.

Anyway, I wanted to sing songs that meant something to me. See, my family instilled a love of music in me and I want to do the same for my daughter.

My mom always sang non-traditional lullabies from Peter, Paul and Mary’s “500 Miles” to “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 8 2013

The Best Lullabies Turn Out to Be Jewish

By at 4:41 pm


Like probably every mom ever, the arrival of my first child came along with the realization of just how many things I don’t know. One of these was lyrics to  lullabies..

During pregnancy I was working on the assumption that I would be able to sing at least a couple lullabies nearly in-full. Instead, as I discovered after I gave birth, I could barely make it to, let alone past, verse two for most of them. Considering this is a time in life when most of us barely have time to brush our teeth, taking time to learn lyrics was most certainly not an option.

Fortunately for me, in his first few months my baby responded better to loud fast songs and erratic dancing – the kind of songs I can actually sing in-full. House favorites included Chumbawumba’s “Tubthumping” (you know it, “I get knocked down, but I get up again…), Britney Spear’s “Toxic” and perennial favorite, Hava Negila.

But eventually his taste became more pedestrian, and he started responding better to softer, more-soothing music to help him fall asleep. Still lyric-less, I began to hum. And hum and hum and hum. And then I realized I sounded like an orthodox man.

Dai – Dai-Dai – dai dai – Dai – Dai – Dai,” I’d repeat over and over again, as his body slowly softened in my arms until, eventually, he was asleep.

What came out of mouth, more unconscious than not, were the nigguns I had heard in synagogue growing up and the free high-holiday services at the Chabad I attended during college. Nigguns, for those of you who don’t know, are melodies formed out of repetitive sounds. “Bim Bam” is the most famous and the one your probably know.

Over the next few months, these nightly nigguns became the sign, perhaps the only one for two people with internal clocks as messed up as ours were, that bedtime had come. The chanting became a threshold that we could cross-through together, as we moved from the outside world to inside ourselves, and then, to sleep.

Some believe that the beauty of nigguns is the fact that we all sound like infants when we sing them; that somehow, through these repetitive, non-sensical words we become babbling children attempting to communicate our most intimate and delicate thoughts to a higher being.

When I sing them I don’t necessarily have a higher being in mind, but I do experience a respite from  the many earthly concerns that run through my head the rest of the day. Gone is trying to get my son to eat his spinach, or come up with an ending to an essay, or figuring out what exactly I need to take with me for a weekend at my in-laws house. Gone are even the words that give shape to those worries and concerns.

In those moments we are left only with my improvised melody, his breath — our two weary bodies submitting to the day’s end. And I never had to learn a single word.

Follow Elissa Strauss on Twitter at @elissaavery.

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Apr 3 2013

Free Stuff Alert: Debbie Brukman’s Jewish Songs for Kids & Tots

By at 12:31 pm

debbie brukman jewish songs for kids and totsLooking for some new tunes to spruce up your Shabbat celebration with the kids? Look no further than the new CD Shir L’Shabbat–Jewish Songs for Kids & Tots by Debbie Brukman.

Brukman, also known as the pied piper of Brownstone Brooklyn, has been sharing her kid-friendly Shabbat tunes as a music teacher for the preschool at Congregation Beth Elohim and leader of Shir L’Shabbat, a popular Saturday morning sing-along. But now you don’t have to be in Park Slope to enjoy her special blend of Shabbat tunes, which incorporates plenty of familiar Jewish preschool songs with lesser known Jewish melodies from Uganda, Israeli song festivals, and Debbie’s original compositions.

The CD features the incredibly popular “Dinosaur Knocking at my Door” as well “Bim Bam” and a live version of Debbie’s original “Shir L’Shabbat.”  Shir L’Shabbat: Jewish Songs for Kids and Tots is available on Amazon, iTunes, Spotify, and

But we’ve got one copy to giveaway to a lucky Kveller reader! To enter, fill out the form below and we’ll choose a winner next Monday, April 8th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Mar 5 2013

When Parenting Starts to Feel like Junior High

By at 3:58 pm

Dear Mom in Music Class,

For a brief second last week, I wanted to punch you in the face. True story.

Sure, I’m an overtired and overworked mom of four kids. I’ll concede that maybe I was a little closer to the tipping point than a normal, well-rested human being would be.

But when I came into the room and said “Hi!” to you, and you slowly and deliberately looked me up and down and then turned back to your friend, not saying hi, there was A Moment.

It was the kind of moment in which crimes are committed: a blinding flash of red rage that makes ears hot and blood boil. It was brief, and then it passed.

But in that moment, I swear: I wanted to put down my toddler, walk over to you and Punch. You. In. The Face. In my mind, I ran through a scenario that made that scene with Lucy Liu and Uma Thurman in Kill Bill look…well, like toddler music class.

In my brain, I Quentin Tarantinoed your ass. Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 8 2013


By at 11:55 am

baby girl listening to music with headphonesThat is how my daughter says, “Bim Bam.” As in, “Bim, bam, bim bim bim bam, bim bim bim bim bim bam.” Sing it with me if you will. I know this song inside and out. In fact, I am kind of an expert. I sing this little ditty approximately 4,000 times a day. Baby G is 18 months old, and Bim Bam is rocking her world. Baby G does not want to sing it herself, of course. In fact, she doesn’t actually want to sing it at all. She prefers to have it performed for her. By me. And who could blame her? I am the Lady Gaga of Bim Bam.

Little kids love repetition. You know that thing inside us adults that finds about 99% of things in the world annoying if we have to hear them more than twice? Yeah, little kids don’t have that. In fact, it’s just the opposite. When little kids find something they like, they like the hell out of it. As in, “Let’s make that thing I like aural and visual wallpaper for every waking second of my life–and then, when I wake up from my nap, we’re going to do it ALL OVER AGAIN! YEAH!” Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 21 2012

Free Stuff Alert: Latkes, Schmatkes!–A Hanukkah CD

By at 11:31 am

latkes, schmatkes lauren mayer giveawayWe know, we know, Thanksgiving hasn’t even happened yet and we’re already talking Hanukkah. But the holiday falls early this year (first night=December 8th), and we’re here to get you into the Hanukkah mood. What better way than with a little Hanukkah music?

Songwriter/comedian/nice Jewish girl Lauren Mayer tackles the challenges of the season–including what it’s like to be Jewish in a secular Christmas season–through musical humor with her CD Latkes, Schmatkes! Songs range from “Don’t They Know (Not Everyone Does Christmas)” and “A Good Old Down Home Country Chanukah” to “The Jew-In-A-Gentile-World Blues.” You can buy the album on Amazon, iTunes, Picklehead Music, and CDBaby.

If you’d like to rock out with Lauren and your kids, we’re giving away a copy to one lucky winner. To enter, sign up for our newsletter by clicking here. Once you’ve done that, let us know by entering a comment below. If you’re already signed up for our newsletter, just skip to the commenting part. We will choose a winner next Monday, November 26th, so enter today. Good luck!

Sep 19 2012

My 3-Year-Old is Sexy & She Knows It

By at 11:20 am
lmfao band


My husband and I have been disagreeing about the music we let our kids listen to in the car. Bryan’s concerned that kids today know too much too soon. Keeping their song choices “wholesome,” he continues to argue, will help them stay innocent and, well, wholesome a little longer.

At first I said he was being uptight. Furthermore, we have four kids ranging from 10  months to 8 years old. They all have different tastes and interests in music. Read the rest of this entry →


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