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Jewish, the Musical

Jewish, the Musical tells the story of discovering and embracing one's ethnic and cultural identity through exploring English versions of the best and most important Jewish songs.  It's happening in present-day NYC public school (Manhattan Arts) which presents its annual school show this time on Times Square which is being broadcast live on major TV channels, as well as on Facebook, YouTube, and other social media platforms. 

The short musical was written by a music teacher Ms. Olga Shapiro and reflects her vision of the history of Jewish people told in songs and dances. For several years she translated and adapted most of the popular Yiddish and Hebrew songs, first to Russian, her native tongue, and then to English. The new translations and adaptations include "Hava Nagila", "Tumbalalaika", "Oyfn Pripetchik", "Yossel, Yossel", "A Yiddishe Mama", "Hatikvah", "Kahol ve Lavan, "A Bisele Mazel", "Heveinu Shalom Aleichem", "Tango in Auschwitz", "Spring in the Ghetto" and other Jewish standards. 

What is special about these translations and adaptations is that the new lyrics were written in a manner that makes the songs universal human stories, while keeping the references to the song's origins, for example, sometimes just a word or line in Yiddish, so the songs sound distinctly Jewish. Here is a good example of how a definitely Yiddish "Mezinka" is transformed into a universal English-language wedding song that still sounds unmistakeably Jewish (titled "Forever")

The songs are arranged in different styles, but most notably in klezmer pop and swing, as well as hip hop, and ballroom, often with Chasidic jazz connotations

It's a story of two Jewish teenagers, a boy, and a girl, who are just friends and try to figure out how to embrace their Jewish cultural identity while remaining cool and close friends with their 10-Grade classmates in today's public school (Manhattan Arts). In the process of working on this musical written by the school music teacher, all their classmates learn how to embrace and be proud of their own ethnic identities and heritage while accepting and respecting others. 

Every year students of the Manhattan Music Arts public school prepare an annual concert in the form of a musical, and this time it's called Jewish, the Musical. The author, music teacher, Mr. Shapiro,  translated and adapted the old traditional Jewish songs to English as a way to make the best Jewish tunes available to wide audiences. This year's concert is scheduled to be streamed live from the heart of Times Square and is going to be broadcast on a few major media platforms, including national TV channels, Facebook Live, and YouTube. 

Jewish, the Musical presents the best of Jewish song and dance through the comedic crazy-straw of a high school show gone wrong and the teacher trying to keep chaos together. Songs are based on traditional Jewish folk tunes (e.g., "Dayeinu" and "Hatikvah" among others as well as on other tunes, for example in the song "How To Be Strong" or "Happy Birthday!"[Odesa, Ukrainian-Jewish tune]) with original lyrics in English and modern arrangements fusing klezmer with pop, hip hop, and ballroom swing.  

Jewish, the Musical tells the story of present-day teenagers, most of whom are not Jewish, discovering the cultural identity and the story of Jewish people through rehearsals and then presentation of a school musical in front of vast audiences while learning an important lesson: be proud of your own ethnic identity while respecting others no matter your background and be cool. 

Flashbacks from the rivers of Babylon, liberation day in Buchenwald, grandma's Channukah candles flickering all night, people on TV mama always points out exclaiming "He/she is Jewish!", "Lekhaim, dude!" and a superhero from a metaverse fighting antisemitism bring out reminiscences from Jewish history and come alive in a flamboyant spectacle that makes you think "Jewish? OMG!!!"  

While the best Yiddish songs, unfortunately, fade into obscurity, along with the language, Jewish song tradition is at risk of being eroded and forgotten and as Hebrew speakers are limited to only 15 million worldwide the English translations and adaptations of the top Jewish songs have the ability not only preserve and revive the beautiful treasure chest of most cherished songs that reflect the ethic DNA and collective memory but also, due to such outstanding quality of lyrics that sometimes are better than the originals, and a new approach to musical arrangements, inspire in global audiences (as over 6 million views already showed), not only Jewish but especially non-Jewish listeners to pursue their genuine interest in the beauty of these timeless gems and especially in people who created them. That's another, more effective way to fight antisemitism in today's world. 

A few first very basic demos are available from the link below: 

Jewish, the Musical (first demos)

P.S. While preserving and reviving the best and most beautiful Jewish songs and heritage opening them to the worldwide audiences, Jewish, the Musical unequivocally supports and promotes the values of friendship, inclusion, tolerance, and diversity. 

Under development by Hudson Kin (Rigli), a member of the Dramatists Guild of America

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SOUND WE LIKE  and plan to incorporate into the show: