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Over 90 million Americans listen to internet radio, and now there is a station dedicated specifically to Jewish rock music. What is Jewish rock music? Is it rock music made by Jews? Is it rock music exclusively for Jews? Is it Jewish-themed music made by anybody and for anybody? The answers, for this new station, seem to be yes, no, yes and yes. That makes this a very exciting venture, not to mention that the music found on Jewish Rock Radio is really good.
The “good” part is easy to test. Give it a listen and “see” for yourself. How the station is answering as to what qualifies as Jewish rock music is what makes this project so exciting and so healthy. That’s right, healthy. In a world in which people often choose between ethnic pride that is narrow and dangerously ethnocentric, or simply disconnect from their roots and all the richness which flows through them, Jewish Rock Radio does it differently.
There is not test of Jewishness which the artists must pass. In fact, knowing many of them as I do, I can attest to the fact that they range from totally secular to seriously Orthodox. In fact, they may not even agree about who is a Jew were they pressed to do so. Who cares?!
Instead of fighting over the things about which they do not agree, they share a space to celebrate the things about which they do. Religious and community leaders could learn from the artists, business people and philanthropists who make this station possible.
Even more powerful is the fact that this station, which proudly celebrates its Jewishness, the Jewishness of the music and the artists themselves, is meant for anybody and for everybody. You don’t need to be Jewish to love Jewish Rock Radio, to paraphrase the old ad for Levy’s Rye Bread.
This is station models genuine pride while keeping a totally open door. It proclaims, “let all who want sweet, soulful, upbeat music – music which draws on biblical and spiritual themes, music which comes from the back streets of Israel and the recording studios of LA – let all who want music, come and listen”. Sounds great to me.
Jewish Rock Radio is fun, authentic, and exciting. There are no barriers to entry and there are no right answers to be had. There is simply a new place to hear some really great new music inspired by a really powerful ancient tradition. How good is that?