ReCovering Jewish Music

Anyone familiar with Jewish Music knows that Jewish music occasionally “borrows” from its secular culture. There are parody groups such as Shlock Rock and Rechnitzer Rejects,1 who perform with an obviously humorous, satirical, or educational purpose. Some bands blatantly use secular music ironically:

Men at Work – Down UnderPiamenta – Asher Boro

Then are the examples of outright plagiarism, the most notable one pointed out way back by Rabbi Avraham Bronstein2

Dschinghis Khan – Dschinghis KhanMordechai Ben David – Yidden

Even the Hatikva, the Israeli National Anthem, appears to find its origins elsewhere:

La Mantovana (Italy 17th century)Hatikva

And I’m sure my astute and cultured readers can drudge up other examples. But this begs the question if Jews borrow liberally from secular music, does the converse also hold true with non-Jews using “Jewish” music as well?3 Let’s take a look:

Warning: Some comparisons not for the faint of heart, reader discretion is advised. YUTOPIA is not responsible for “ruining” any song for you, creating indelible mental references, or other visceral reactions.

Kaveret / Poogy – Yo YaLenny Kravitz – Are You Gonna Go My Way
Israeli/Folk – Shema YisraelBloodhound Gang – The Bad Touch
Shlomo Carlebach – Ki Va MoedCindy Lauper – Christmas Conga

I’ll take this as a “yes” – and I even have a feeling I’m forgetting some. Got suggestions? Let me know in the comments and I’ll move the better ones up.


1. A band which like most bands I liked as a child, does not seem to hold up nearly as well.
2. And recently submitted by myself to the Who Sampled database.
3. No comments on how music is a universal language, cultures borrowing from each other, or that since there are only a finite number of scales in the western music system there are bound to be similarities. Just sip some tea and enjoy the comparisons, ok?

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