Author of New Book on Connection Between Jews, Punk Rock Describes Bands Flinging Gefilte Fish, Bagels at Audience (INTERVIEW)
Some punk rockers integrate their Jewish identity into their music through food, the author of a new book on the topic told The Algemeiner on Wednesday.
Michael Croland, author of Oy Oy Oy Gevalt! Jews and Punk, described the way different musicians express this connection.
“One band is known for throwing gefilte fish in the mosh pit, and people at its concert slide around on it while dancing,” he recounted.
“Another used to drink Manischewitz [sweet kosher] wine out of a shofar [the ram horn blown on high Jewish holidays] on stage and throw latkes [potato pancakes] around, while the lead singer smeared himself with hummus,” he said.
Yet another, he said, would distribute bagels to the audience and initiate food fights.
“These musicians, who identify strongly with their Jewish background and ritual, are taking the most familiar and resonant aspects of their heritage and creating art out of them,” he explained.
Though Croland’s book mainly focuses on musicians who us punk rock as a vehicle to “express, explore and embrace” their Jewish identity, it also discusses well-known punk rockers — such as Joey Ramone from The Ramones — who simply happen to be Jewish, as well as the influence of punk rock on traditional Jewish music, such as klezmer.
Croland said that one thing punk rock and Judaism have in common is the concept of Tikkun Olam — making the world a better place. He told The Algemeiner that this is what has attracted Jewish musicians to that specific genre, which emphasizes social justice.
Croland said his book also deals with the way punk-rock humor jibes with Jewish humor, which he called “a foundation of our culture — a way of coping with all the tragedy our people have experienced.”