Stories of Music Lesson

The Sounds of Eretz Yisrael in America: 1920’s-1950’s
The Sounds of Eretz Yisrael in America: 1920’s-1950’s
links to lesson documents found below


This lesson will explore how American Jews have engaged with Israeli musical forms, from the 1920’s through the 1950’s. We will examine how Israeli music navigated the ongoing relationship between American Jews and Zionism and Israel.

Through this lesson, learners will understand that:

  • Israeli music was a primary means through which American Jews were exposed to Israeli culture and Zionism, and became and remained connected to Eretz Yisrael.
  • Israeli music grew in impact on the synagogue and in Jewish education efforts, formal and informal, as American Zionism took hold.
  • The “sound” of Israeli music has influenced the composition of American Jewish composers.
  • American Jews’ integration and distribution of Israeli music reflects the contemporaneous relationship of American Jews to Israel.

Learners will listen to the music of Bracha Zefira, Julius Chajes, Max Helfman, Marc Lavry, and more.

All the while, they’ll ask themselves:

  • How has Israeli music made its impact on American Jewish life, in both formal and informal ways?
  • How has the music had an impact on American Jewish composers and songwriters?