Connect with us


There’s a Grammy for Christian music. These musicians want Jewish music to get one, too.



(J. The Jewish News of Northern California via JTA) — There is a Grammy Award for just about every kind of music — from pop to metal to New Age to Contemporary Christian — but there’s no Jewish category. Two Jewish musician friends hope to change that.

Joanie Leeds, a children’s musician and Grammy winner in New York City, and Mikey Pauker, a self-described “devotional rock” artist from California, are working on a formal proposal to add “best Jewish music album” to the list of Grammys awarded each year. They plan to submit their proposal to the Recording Academy, the body that governs the Grammys, by March 1.

In the past, albums of what is traditionally considered to be Jewish music have been nominated in a variety of categories, including best contemporary world music. The Klezmatics’ “Wonder Wheel” album won in that category in 2006, and some referred to the award as “the first Jewish Grammy.”

But musicians who produce albums of Jewish music often find themselves caught between categories, Leeds said. The global category is not a fit for American musicians, and categories for religious music, even if expanded, are also not an easy fit, she said.

“‘Jewish’ is complicated, because it’s not just a religion like Christianity,” Leeds said. “It’s also a culture.”

To strengthen their proposal, the pair consulted with rabbis and Jewish educators about what constitutes Jewish music.

“We’re doing our best to be as clear as possible and as inclusive as possible, because not everybody knows that Jewish music is diverse,” Pauker said. “It’s transdenominational, it’s based in spirituality, it’s based in culture and it’s not just Ashkenazi.”

Mikey Pauker, seen here performing in Berkeley, California, is one of the musicians behind a petition to add a Jewish music category to the Grammys. (Courtesy Pauker)

In their proposal, Pauker and Leeds make the case for a new category that will encompass Jewish religious music, such as cantorial music, nigguns and Mizrahi music, as well as secular music, such as klezmer, Yiddish, Ladino and Judeo-Arabic music. Albums with Christian themes, including those produced by Messianic Jews, would not be eligible.

“It needs to have some sort of Jewish content in it to make it Jewish music,” Leeds said. “If there’s a song in Israel about some guy meeting a girl at a bar, or whatever it’s about that has no grounds in text or liturgy or anything, then it wouldn’t be considered Jewish music.”

“Our goal is really to educate not just the Recording Academy about what Jewish music is, but also educating the public as to what Jewish music is,” she said.

The Recording Academy regularly adds and modifies Grammy categories. This year, it added five new ones, including best score soundtrack for video games and other interactive media and best spoken-word poetry album.

Pauker said this is not the first time musicians have petitioned the Recording Academy to add a Jewish category. But this time, he said, he and Leeds can point to the consistent output of high-quality Jewish music in recent years. He noted that in the past two years alone, more than 100 albums were released that could have been nominated in such a category.

“We’re at a point in music history where we’re having a Jewish renaissance, and the market has arrived,” he said. “We have enough artists where we can get this done.” He added that the Recording Academy has been supportive of him and Leeds in their endeavor.

In an effort to raise awareness about their proposal, they have launched a petition on the website. By Friday, it had more than 1,800 signatures, including from non-Jewish musicians.

A petition to add a Jewish Grammys category garnered more than 1,800 signatures in its first week. (Screenshot from

Among the signers is Sephardic singer and activist Sarah Aroeste. She said she supports the push to add a Jewish category at the Grammys because her albums, including 2021’s “Monastir,” do not fit cleanly into the other categories.

“Jewish music crosses so many musical boundaries, yet we get lost, or are ineligible, in existing categories,” she wrote. “As a Ladino musician specifically, I’ve always been put in the global music category. I am literally up against musical acts from all around the globe!”

She added: “Having our own category — much like other ethnic or religious groups have them — would highlight the breadth and diversity of Jewish music as a genre and would allow those Academy members knowledgeable about the music to be able to vote.”

Pauker, 37, lives in southern California and recently launched his own folk-rock-reggae-chant record label called Beautiful Way Records. He will help lead Shabbat services during Wilderness Torah’s upcoming Passover in the Desert festival.

Leeds, who is based in New York City, won a 2021 Grammy in the Best Children’s Music Album category for her ninth album, a compilation of secular children’s music called “All the Ladies” that included a song about Jewish Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She has also released multiple albums of Jewish kids’ music, including “Meshugana” and “Challah, Challah,” as well as a Christmas record called “Oy Vey” in collaboration with the rapper Fyütch.

Pauker said the two became close friends during the pandemic, when they spent many hours on the social media app Clubhouse discussing Judaism and music.

As the Recording Academy considers their proposal in the coming weeks, Pauker said he and Leeds will hold community conversations about trends in Jewish music.

“One of our hopes is this will launch hundreds of new artists, new records and collaborations that can really help push this genre forward,” he said.

This story originally appeared in J. The Jewish News of Northern California and is reprinted with permission. Jackie Hajdenberg added reporting for JTA.

The post There’s a Grammy for Christian music. These musicians want Jewish music to get one, too. appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *





Phyllis Pollock died at home Sunday September 3, 2023 in Winnipeg, after a courageous lifetime battle with cancer.
Phyllis was a mother of four: Gary (Laura), daughter Randi, Steven (deceased in 2010) (Karen), and Robert. Phyllis also had two grandchildren: Lauren and Quinn.
Born in Fort Frances, Ontario on February 7, 1939, Phyllis was an only child to Ruby and Alex Lerman. After graduating high school, Phyllis moved to Winnipeg where she married and later divorced Danny Pollock, the father of her children. She moved to Beverly Hills in 1971, where she raised her children.
Phyllis had a busy social life and lucrative real estate career that spanned over 50 years, including new home sales with CoastCo. Phyllis was the original sales agent for three buildings in Santa Monica, oceanfront: Sea Colony I, Sea Colony II, and Sea Colony. She was known as the Sea Colony Queen. She worked side by side with her daughter Randi for about 25 years – handling over 600 transactions, including sales and leases within the three phases of Sea Colony alone.
Phyllis had more energy than most people half her age. She loved entertaining, working in the real estate field, meeting new and interesting people everyday no matter where she went, and thrived on making new lifelong friends. Phyllis eventually moved to the Sea Colony in Santa Monica where she lived for many years before moving to Palm Desert, then Winnipeg.
After battling breast cancer four times in approximately 20 years, she developed metastatic Stage 4 lung cancer. Her long-time domestic partner of 27 years, Joseph Wilder, K.C., was the love of her life. They were never far apart. They traveled the world and went on many adventures during their relationship. During her treatment, Phyllis would say how much she missed work and seeing her clients. Joey demonstrated amazing strength, love, care, and compassion for Phyllis as her condition progressed. He was her rock and was by her side 24/7, making sure she had the best possible care. Joey’s son David was always there to support Phyllis and to make her smile. Joey’s other children, Sheri, Kenny, Joshua and wife Davina, were also a part of her life. His kids would Facetime Phyllis and include her during any of their important functions. Phyllis loved Joey’s children as if they were her own.
Thank you to all of her friends and family who were there to support her during these difficult times. Phyllis is now, finally, pain free and in a better place. She was loved dearly and will be greatly missed. Interment took place in Los Angeles.

Continue Reading

Local News

Gwen Centre Creative Living Centre celebrates 35th anniversary



By BERNIE BELLAN Over 100 individuals gathered at the Gwen Secter Centre on Tuesday evening, July 18 – under the big top that serves as the venue for the summer series of outdoor concerts that is now in its third year at the centre.
The occasion was the celebration of the Gwen Secter Centre’s 35th anniversary. It was also an opportunity to honour the memory of Sophie Shinewald, who passed away at the age of 106 in 2019, but who, as recently as 2018, was still a regular attendee at the Gwen Secter Centre.
As Gwen Secter Executive Director Becky Chisick noted in her remarks to the audience, Sophie had been volunteering at the Gwen Secter Centre for years – answering the phone among other duties. Becky remarked that Sophie’s son, Ed Shinewald, had the phone number for the Gwen Secter Centre stored in his phone as “Mum’s work.”

Raquel Dancho (left), Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St.Paul, and Nikki Spigelman, President, Gwen Secter Centre

Remarks were also delivered by Raquel Dancho, Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St. Paul, who was the only representative of any level of government in attendance. (How times have changed: I remember well the steadfast support the former Member of the Legislature for St. John’s, Gord Mackintosh, showed the Gwen Secter Centre when it was perilously close to being closed down. And, of course, for years, the area in which the Gwen Secter Centre is situated was represented by the late Saul Cherniack.)
Sophie Shinewald’s granddaughter, Alix (who flew in from Chicago), represented the Shinewald family at the event. (Her brother, Benjamin, who lives in Ottawa, wasn’t able to attend, but he sent a pre-recorded audio message that was played for the audience.)
Musical entertainment for the evening was provided by a group of talented singers, led by Julia Kroft. Following the concert, attendees headed inside to partake of a sumptuous assortment of pastries, all prepared by the Gwen Secter culinary staff. (And, despite my asking whether I could take a doggy bag home, I was turned down.)

Continue Reading


Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station



This is a developing story.

(JTA) — Palestinian gunmen killed four people and wounded four in a terror attack at a gas station near the West Bank settlement of Eli, the Israeli army reported.

An Israeli civilian returning fire at the scene of the attack on Tuesday killed one of the attackers, who emerged from a vehicle, and two others fled.

Kan, Israel’s public broadcaster, said one of those wounded was in serious condition. The gunmen, while in the vehicle, shot at a guard post at the entry to the settlement, and then continued to the gas station which is also the site of a snack bar. A nearby yeshiva went into lockdown.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced plans to convene a briefing with top security officials within hours of the attack. Kan reported that there were celebrations of the killing in major West Bank cities and in the Gaza Strip, initiated by terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Hamas said the shooting attack Tuesday was triggered by the Jenin raid.

The shooting comes as tensions intensify in the West Bank. A day earlier, Israeli troops raiding the city of Jenin to arrest accused terrorists killed five people.

The Biden administration spoke out over the weekend against Israel’s plans to build 4,000 new housing units for Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also finalized plans to  transfer West Bank building decisions to Bezalel Smotrich, the extremist who is the finance minister. Smotrich has said he wants to limit Palestinian building and expand settlement building.

Kan reported that the dead terrorist was a resident of a village, Urif, close to Huwara, the Palestinian town where terrorists killed two Israeli brothers driving through in February. Settlers retaliated by raiding the village and burning cars and buildings.

The post Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Continue Reading

Copyright © 2017 - 2023 Jewish Post & News