jewish musician


Uncredited Photographer     Village Orchestra of Ruthenian and Jewish Musicians, Verecke, Bereg (Either Today’s Hungary or Ukraine)     1895


This is Rosa Spier, born in the Hague in 1891.  Recognized as a great talent from a young age, Spier would become the harp professor of the Amsterdam Conservatory in 1925, and later the harpist with the Netherlands Radio Orchestra and the Concertgebouw Orchestra.  In 1941, all Jewish musicians in the Netherlands were forced to leave their jobs.  Although she continued to play with the Jewish Symphony Orchestra, she was soon forced in to hiding.  She was eventually betrayed, and her home emptied, though before officials could confiscate or destroy it, her neighbor noticed her harp and removed it from the home, storing it themselves.  She was deported to Theresienstadt concentration camp, but in 1945, during a prisoner exchange, she was able to escape to Switzerland.  When Spier returned to her home after the war, she had lost all of her possessions, except for her harp, kept still by her neighbor.  After the war she continued to give many concerts despite her failing health.  In her late life, an idea came to her for a retirement home for elderly musicians where they could live out their older years while still contributing to the arts.  Although she would not live to see the opening, the Rosa Spier Huis in Laren, NL has been host to numerous elderly artists and scientists of great standing. Rosa died in 1967.  She is remembered for her dedication to music and the arts and her unbridled tenacity.

May her memory be a blessing.



Translating to ‘Swing Kids’ or ‘Swing Youth’ the Swingjugend were a group of teenagers between the ages of 14-18, that opposed Nazi Germany and the Hitler Youth. Their name acts as a parody of the numerous youth groups that flourished before the National Socialists. They also referred to themselves as Swings or Swingheinis (“Swingity”); the members were called “Swing-Boy”, “Swing-Girl” or “Old-Hot-Boy”. Throughout Germany, many young people were encouraged to join the fascist Hitler Youth movement. As swing music and Jazz music was offensive to Nazi ideology, because it was often performed by blacks (Negroes) and a number of Jewish musicians, the leaders formed their own group, focusing on American and British swing and jazz.  They organized dance festivals and contests and invited jazz bands. These events were occasions to mock the Nazis, the military and the Hitler Youth, and they even chanted “Swing Heil!”, mocking the Nazi “Sieg Heil!”

Ah. I see that now it’s “being against the Israeli occupation” to restrict or limit the access of Jews to certain jobs unless they openly support a political movement that is openly hostile to them.

silly me, I thought that was “1930′s nazi tactics” and “traditional christian and muslim forms of antisemitism.”

If you want to claim your anti-zionism isn’t just a mask for anti-semitism, you don’t demand things of American Jews who aren’t Israeli citizens that you don’t demand of non-Jews. 

If you want to claim your “policy of promoting peace” isn’t a mask for your anti-semitism, you don’t demand statements only from Jews and only about Israel.

When BDS starts demanding that non-Jewish musicians and celebrities agree with their policies or face boycott and protests, or when the Rototom Sunsplash festival starts asking it’s Spanish performers about Catalonian statehood and their Dominican performers about Haitian deportation, or heck, even their Rastafarian artists about Israel, because, you know, that religion also has strong views about Israel, then we can go back to having a discussion about the merits of BDS’s strategy or Rototom’s promotion of peace.


I’ve posted about the women’s orchestra of Auschwitz before, but as a Jewish musician it’s still something that always makes me bawl, especially the story of 19 year old Anita Lasker-Wallfisch playing Schumann for the men who killed her family.

I thought this was fitting for Hanukkah. 

(Also I just learned that the conductor of the orchestra was Mahler’s niece. Apparently she was a strict director and the musicians didn’t like her, but in retrospect they all agree that her discipline saved their lives)

Empathetic Jon Bon Jovi dedicates song ‘We Don’t Run’ to Israel - 3 October 2015

Jon Bon Jovi’s kicked off his band’s first-ever performance in Israel Saturday evening by telling 50,000 cheering Israelis “I’ve waited a long time for this!”
A few songs into the show, he underlined his empathy with Israel by introducing a new song called “We Don’t Run,” released earlier this summer, with the comment: “This should be the fight song for Tel Aviv.”
And later in the performance, the New Jersey-born rocker name-checked his keyboard player, the Jewish musician David Bryan (Rashbaum), by saying that “your father would be proud of you” for being in Israel pounding the piano.
Probably unbeknown to the band, the concert began minutes after a terrorist attack in Jerusalem 60 kilometers (some 40 miles) away, when a Palestinian man stabbed two Israelis to death in the Old City, and injured two others.
“Good evening Tel Aviv, Israel! Are you ready for rock ‘n roll? I’ve waited a long time for this, baby!” Bon Jovi called out to fans packed into Tel Aviv’s Yarkon Park before opening with the song “That’s What the Water Made Me.”
“We finally made it here. It took us a long time, and we still have a ways to go tonight. Are you with me?” he asked.
In an 18-song setlist, fans were treated to some of Bon Jovi’s newer material as well as the group’s biggest hits, including “You Give Love a Bad Name,” “It’s My Life,” and, at the end of the long set, “Livin on a Prayer.”
The 53-year-old musician was upbeat and energetic throughout, constantly encouraging the audience to clap and sing along, and having them sing solo at the start of “Wanted Dead or Alive.” He introduced that song by asking, “Forgive me an innocent question: Are there any cowboys in Israel?”
Unremarkably, Bon Jovi’s decision to play in Israel had led to pressure from boycott activists and criticism from anti-Israel fellow rocker Roger Waters.
Waters and other supporters of the Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement urged the band to cancel the concert, but a local promoter said that Bon Jovi, a longtime Democrat who recently hosted a fundraiser for presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, “couldn’t care less.”
The band and its leader were evidently unfazed by the criticism. Arriving in Israel on Friday, they had greeted fans and briefly spoken to journalists, with Bon Jovi saying he and the band were “happy to finally be here” on what was the last performance of their 2015 world tour.
When asked why the band had never played in Israel before, Bon Jovi jokingly pointed at his tour promoter, and said, “Blame Marcel, he’s never let us come.”
“But, no, we’re happy to finally be here. This is a place that I’ve always wanted to come to, so this was the perfect opportunity to finally come to Israel,” Bon Jovi said.
He said he hoped to tour in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem during the band’s stay.
Speaking to the Hebrew press last Friday, Bon Jovi said he “always heard what a wonderful place Israel is – the birthplace of all religions.
“I have been everywhere and Israel was a place that I’ve always wanted to visit, but it never worked out. This time I insisted that Israel must be on our list and it happened!”