Meet “Bulletproof Stockings” and “Yiddish Princess”
Today we feature female American Jewish musicians who aren’t softly crooning classic Hebrew folk songs, traditional prayers, or even hava nagila. They are not belting out Broadway tunes or love songs à la Barbra Streisand or Bette Midler. These women are rocking out to their own beat.
First up is a chassidic alt-rock girl band. You read that right. It’s an unusual tagline for a band called Bulletproof Stockings that hails from Crown Heights, Brooklyn. The bandmates rock out on drums, wear sheitls (wigs), and are devotees of the Chabad Lubavitch sect. The band’s founders are Dalia Shusterman, a graphic designer and widowed mother of four in her 30s, and Perl Wolfe, a recently divorced makeup artist in her 20s. In an interview with the Times of Israel, Shusterman and Wolfe talk about “wailing and rocking out” and cite secular influences like Radiohead and the White Stripes.
Out of respect for kol isha, which prohibits men from hearing women sing, the group only performs for female audiences. The players cite additional reasons for keeping men out of their concert venues.
We specifically want to create a space that’s just for women,” Wolfe says. “The general assumption is that we’re cutting out half our audience, which I suppose is true,” Shusterman adds. “But there are only what, 3 billion women in the world? I think we’re good with that.” They also want to serve as inspiration for observant Jewish women to make use of their talents. “We really want girls to pick up their instruments and start getting into it. There’s a weird misconception that it’s not Jewish to do this kind of thing,” said Wolfe. Bulletproof Stockings is certainly working hard to prove otherwise. Ready to be pleasantly surprised? Give them a listen here.
Yiddish rock is another genre that might make you doubt your hearing. But a band called Yiddish Princess is bringing it to the airwaves. Co-founded by Sarah Gordon, Yiddish Princess merges a passion for rock with a love of the Yiddish songs that Gordon heard as a child. Her mother was the legendary Adrienne Cooper, who was known world-wide for her interpretations of Yiddish song and for helping to revive Yiddish folk arts and Klezmer music. Led by Sarah’s wild vocals and rounded out by five men, the group blends traditional Yiddish songs with screeching guitars and synthesizers, replacing the clarinets and violins of old. Yiddish Princess has infused a dramatic, traditional language with new life. It’s fun to listen to.
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These Jewish rockers are forging new musical paths. Stay tuned as the definition of “Jewish music” continues to evolve.