19 December 2005

Monday's mp3: Az Der Rebe's Cat

'Twas the week before Christmas, and all through the flat, SoundRoots was blathering on about rabbis. What's up with that?

Two things. One is the beautiful and thoughtful book The Rabbi's Cat by prolific French writer/artist Joann Sfar. It's a work infused with love for Jewish culture, particularly the Moroccan flavor, even as its protaganist raises some hefty questions about Jewish tradition. Like, can a cat have a bar mitzvah? Does the Torah prefer dogs to cats? And can the same ancestor be both a rabbi and a Sufi saint?

The book is a collection of three Sfar stories about the Rabbi's cat (who is never further named). You can find out much more about the author at his website, particularly if you read French.

For some delightful musical accompaniment, we turn to the under-appreciated group Nikitov. Their 2004 album Amulet is a gem, and klezmershack.com calls them "one of the best of the new Yiddish folksong ensembles." They may be better appreciated in Europe than the States, if their touring schedule is any indication. The song "Az Der Rebbe", first published in 1932, describes how, when the rabbi dances, sings, drinks, or cries, all the chassidim will join in with him. The CD is worth buying for these background singers alone.

band site : buy CD

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