Lecture and Website Topics

"Jewish Folksongs" is a series of lectures given in either English or Hebrew about the ways folk songs reflect different themes of Jewish heritage. The songs mainly cover Yiddish and Ladino-speaking cultures, and I also look at a few piyutim, hasidic and Israeli folksongs. In the lectures I speak about the songs, sing them with guitar accompaniment and invite the audience to sing along with me.

The website complements the material in the lectures. It includes music videos and detailed information and sources, mainly from the Internet, as well as a reference section regarding different aspects of Jewish musical heritage with brief surveys and additional references to online information sources. Lyrics of the songs dealt with in the lectures are also included on the website.  



People, Places

The Life Cycle


Introductory lecture

Ladino and Yiddish Folksongs: Are they Jewish? 

In this introductory lecture, I take a few representative songs and, together with the audience, develop criteria to define the characteristics of Jewish folksongs. On this webpage, we enter the doors opened by each of the songs – one by one – and see which aspects of Jewish heritage they lead us to. 



ShabbatShabbat is a songfully joyous festival - and it comes around 52 times a year!  
HanukkahTake a quiz and come to the lecture for the answers. Also - a bonus quiz for Internet addicts! 
Tu BishvatTwo pages: 1) The "tree of life"  2) The festival of Tu Bishvat 
PurimEat, drink and be merry - and share the fun with others! 
PesachWhat is the significance of the kid in this kids' song? 


The songs reflect the many faces of this festival: revelation, sacred marriage, harvest  festivities - and cheese cake!       


People and Places

Mothers and Fathers 

Is there such a thing as a Jewish mother? What about Jewish fathers and Jewish grandparents? Learn about the many different topics covered in this lecture on the Jewish family. 
In-lawsWhatever the language, mothers-in-law (especially mothers of the groom) are reviled. Listen to the folksongs to find out why.  

Kings and Queens

As in the Introductory Lecture, we enter the doors opened by each of the songs and see which aspects of Jewish and world culture they lead us to.

"Home"Songs with place names in the titles: what do these tell us about the concept of "home" understood by Jews living around the world? 
Upcoming lecture"Making a living" 

Such is Life!

WeddingsWhat do Ladino and Yiddish folksongs tell us about the way Sephardic and Ashkenazi weddings used to be celebrated? 
Singing with a SmileHumour in Yiddish and Ladino folksongs    
Ashkenazi food"Est gezunterheyt!" - Songs in Yiddish about the food that Eastern European Jews eat - and yearn for 
Sephardic food"Cantares con savor" - Songs in Ladino about food in Judeo-Sephardic culture 
Upcoming lecturesLove and Courtship; Lullabies 


The Golden PeacockIn which way does the golden peacock symbolize Yiddish literature? 
TreesThe "tree of life" is a rich source of folklore, cultural history, religion and folksong. 
One Only KidWhat is the significance of the kid in this kids' song? 
The SeasonsWhether descriptions or metaphors, songs about each of the four seasons have a lot to say about Jewish life. 
Upcoming lectureFauna and flora 

 See you at the lectures!

["The Fiddler"  -  M. Chagall]