A Vocal Celebration of Home

The Maccabeats’ latest video, shot in New York City and Jerusalem, is a medley of 12 songs about home. What a great celebration of the ceasefire and return to relative peace in the Holy Land.

Posted in: a cappella / Israel / Maccabeats

Nina Simone Sings “Eretz Zavat Chalav”

(Photo: Dutch National Archives)

(Photo: Dutch National Archives)

As has been shown before, we here at 4Zion are fans of good music. Last week, one of our favorite singers and pianists, Nina Simone, would have turned 81. In honor of Nina’s birthday, our friends at Jewcy reminded us that the jazz legend had the classic Hebrew tune “Eretz Zavat Chalav” (“The Land of Milk and Honey”) in her repertoire:

Simone incorporated the song into her repertoire to help showcase the talents of Brooklyn percussionist Montego Joe. She performed the song on CBS program Camera Three in the fall of 1962, at Carnegie Hall in Spring 1963, and later that year in the nationally syndicated folk-music television program, Hootenanny.

Posted in: Carnegie Hall / Eretz Zavat Chalav / Hebrew

Oldest-Known Holocaust Survivor Dies at 110

(Photo: courtesy)

(Photo: courtesy)

Just last week, we brought you the story of the world’s oldest-known Holocaust survivor and her infectious optimism.

Sadly, Alice Herz-Sommer passed away yesterday at the age of 110. Ms. Herz-Sommer is the subject of a short documentary up for an Oscar at this weekend’s Academy Awards ceremonies, a film that tells the story of a life of faith, courage, and love of music:

Herz-Sommer’s devotion to the piano and to her son sustained her through two years in a Nazi prison camp, and a film about her has been nominated for best short documentary at next week’s Academy Awards.

While we will be cheering for this inspiring woman’s story during the Oscar telecast this Sunday, let’s also remember a life lived bravely, faithfully, and well.

Posted in: Academy Awards / Alice Herz-Sommer / Jewish people

The World’s Oldest Pianist and Holocaust Survivor

(Photo: Nick Reed)

(Photo: Nick Reed)

The Academy Awards are often only about who wins the Oscar for Best Picture or Best Actor or Actress. But some of the most interesting stories can be found in the films from lesser-known categories. This year, the film The Lady in Number 6 is nominated for the Best Short Subject Documentary category, and the tale it tells is quite a story.

The lady in the title is Alice Herz-Sommer, who is now the world’s oldest Holocaust survivor and the world’s oldest pianist. During World War II, Ms. Herz-Sommer lost her mother and husband to Auschwitz, and was placed in Theresienstadt concentration camp with her young son. It was her ability to play piano that helped her survive, and today the 110-year-old has much to teach us all with her grace and wisdom.


Posted in: Academy Awards / Alice Herz-Sommer / Auschwitz

My Funny Valentine

(Photo: Library of Congress/ New York World-Telegram & Sun Collection)

(Photo: Library of Congress/ New York World-Telegram & Sun Collection)

We here at 4Zion love music of all kinds. Many of the standards of the American songbook were penned by Jews. Foremost among these songwriters might be Richard Rodgers (who later wrote so many memorable Broadway musicals with Oscar Hammerstein II) and Lorenz Hart.

Rodgers and Hart were both Jews of German extraction, and both were born and raised in New York in the time before World War I. After meeting in 1919 to collaborate on a musical show at Columbia University, they teamed up to write 28 musicals and over 500 songs until Hart passed away in 1943. Some of Rodgers and Hart’s more famous selections include “Manhattan,” “Blue Moon,” “The Lady Is a…

Posted in: American Jews / Broadway / History