Some of the biggest rock stars in history happen to be Jewish, either by birth or conversion.
Given the rich musical tradition of the Jewish people, this should hardly come as a surprise. Songs are used in celebration, in times of happiness and in times of sorrow. Holy scriptures are shared out loud in a chanting presentation, rather than simply being spoken.
Rabbi Nachman, a prominent historical figure in the movement of Hasidic Judaism, once said that “melody is the refinement of the spirit, separating human-spirit from animal-spirit.”
Many rock stars raised in the Jewish culture have noted how their upbringing influenced their career path. Art Garfunkel and Trevor Rabin of Yes were among the future rockers who got their taste of performing by singing at their local synagogue. Meanwhile, David Lee Roth saw his success in Van Halen as an opportunity to break down traditional Jewish stereotypes.
Of course, not every Jewish rocker remained close to their faith. Lou Reed, Billy Joel and the Melvins’ Buzz Osbourne are among those who’ve openly admitted detachment from the culture. Then, there’s the case of the Band’s Robbie Robertson. He didn’t discover he was Jewish until he was about 12 years old, when his mother revealed the identity of his birth father.
In “The Chanukah Song,” comedian Adam Sandler famously rattled off a long list of Jewish celebrities from throughout music and entertainment. We don’t have the talent to write a song of our own, so instead we’ve highlighted 35 Jewish rock stars in the list below.
Jewish Rock Stars
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