Wednesday, October 20th 2021   |

Music

Daveed Diggs, Rachel Bloom, Sue Bird and more: The Almas award 5781’s top Jewish pop culture contributors

By GABE FRIEDMAN

(JTA) — It’s not just the High Holidays, the time of year when Jews reflect on their past year and atone for their sins. For the third time now, it’s also time to appreciate the Jewish moments that helped define the year in pop culture — in the form of The Almas.

Alma, which like the Jewish Telegraphic Agency is part of 70 Faces Media, released its...

Ezra Furman has sung about God in her indie rock. Now she’s going to rabbinical school.

By ELLA ROCKART

(JTA) — “How would I describe myself?” Ezra Furman said wryly, tearing a corner off of her slice of pizza in a shop in Somerville, Mass. “I try to avoid it.” 

There’s certainly a lot to cover. The 34-year-old musician is an acclaimed indie rocker, an observant Jew, a transgender woman, a mother, and — as of this fall — a rabbinical student. 

“I would say I’m...

Barbra Streisand sets another record: A top 20 album in every decade since the 1960s

(JTA) — Barbra Streisand has become the only woman to record a top 20 album on the Billboard charts in every decade from the 1960s to the 2020s.

The only other person to achieve that feat is Bob Dylan.

Streisand’s latest album, “Release Me 2,” came out Saturday and debuted at number 15 on the Billboard charts, Billboard reported. The album features archival recordings as well as duets with Willie...

Billie Eilish promotes her new album to Israelis, and draws social media ire

By GABE FRIEDMAN

(JTA) — Pop star Billie Eilish provoked a wave of angry criticism on social media after posting a short video online promoting her new album to Israeli fans.

“Hi Israel, this is Billie Eilish, and I’m so excited that my new album, ‘Happier Than Ever,’ is out now,” she says in a clip posted to her Tik Tok, the blog Israellycool reported Sunday.

The video was one...

Rush rocker Geddy Lee’s Jewish mom, a Holocaust survivor, was his biggest fan

By JACQUELINE RODERICK

(Kveller via JTA) – Our deepest condolences go out to Rush lead singer and legendary bassist Geddy Lee, whose Jewish mom, Mary Weinrib, passed away on July 2, 2021. Weinrib, who was set to turn 96 on July 16, was not only a massive supporter of her son’s music career but she was also a Holocaust survivor. 

In a moving tribute on Instagram, Lee shared a brief...

Elvis Presley was Jewish? A grave marker locked away for 4 decades confirms it.

By DAN FELLNER

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (JTA) – The large crate sat unopened in a 20,000-square-foot warehouse here for more than four decades, concealing a little-known fact about one of America’s cultural icons.

Inside was the headstone of Elvis Presley’s mother, Gladys, which had been stored in the Graceland archives along with 1.5 million other items since 1977. And on the upper left side of the long-unseen marker — designed by...

Patti Smith and Julian Casablancas among over 600 musicians to call for boycott of Israel

(JTA) — Patti Smith and Julian Casablancas of The Strokes are among the more than 600 musicians who have signed a letter calling for artists to avoid playing concerts in Israel.

“We call on you to join us with your name in refusing to perform at Israel’s complicit cultural institutions,” says the letter, which began circulating Thursday in media reports.

It claims Israel committed war crimes in its recent fighting...

Dua Lipa responds to full-page NY Times ad that blasts her Israel criticism

(JTA) — Prominent Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s World Values Network took out a full-page New York Times ad on Saturday denouncing the British pop star Dua Lipa’s criticism of Israel on social media, and the singer responded, saying the ad was full of “falsehoods and blatant misrepresentations.”

The Grammy-winning megastar had reposted several messages on Instagram in the early days of the recent Israel-Gaza conflict that were critical of Israel’s actions...

James Levine, cantor’s grandson who led the Metropolitan Opera for 40 years, is dead at 77

By ANDREW SILOW-CARROLL

(JTA) — James Levine, the grandson of a cantor who led New York’s Metropolitan Opera as artistic director for more than 40 years, has died.

The cause of death was not announced, although Levine had been in ill health for years. He was 77 and passed away on March 9.

Levine was one of the dominant figures in opera and American classical music until being fired in...

The Jewish highlights of the 2021 Grammys: Breakout performance but no win for Jewish sister act Haim

By EMILY BURACK

(JTA) — When the Jewish sister act Haim took the stage at the 2021 Grammy Awards on Sunday night, Americans began googling “hime.”

That’s how host Trevor Noah pronounced the group’s name, which is the last name of the sisters and the Hebrew word for life. Though the sisters did not win in either of the categories in which they were nominated, they celebrated their friend Taylor...