A roundup of newly released CDs, perfect for Chanukah giving.
Special to the Jewish News
Ellen Kushner: "When you
think about it, Tchaikovsky
was a world-music guy"
"It has a Jewish agenda and a femi-
nist agenda," Kushner explains. "That
is why I made Sara and Miriam so
Unlike her predecessor Clara, Sara is
an active participant in her story who
must think hard and work diligently
in order to save the day (and the play).
"Basically," Kushner explains, "Sara
goes to another world and kicks butt."
During the adventure, Sara learns
the secrets of the dreidel and a great
deal of Jewish history as well.
"I wanted the play to be fun,"
Kushner said, but also educational."
Since it was first performed, The
Golden Dreydl has returned in live per-
formances, and been broadcast on
radio to an ever-growing audience.
"So many people called in asking for
copies," Kushner explained, "that we
decided to print an album."
After a limited edition printing in
2001, Ryko Records came on board
and released The Golden Dreydl to an
international audience last month.
"Now it is out there for anyone who
wants a fun Chanukah story with
great music," Kushner says.
And in the same way that Kushner
used to play favorite albums over and
over again, she hopes that her new CD
becomes a favorite for children and
families all over the world.
"That is my dream," she says. "That
is the wish I would make if I had the
The Golden Dreydl is available
through Ryko Records at
www.rykodisc.com or (888) 232-
7385. Ellen Kushner's Sound and
Spirit airs on WUOM-91.7FM
(Ann Arbor-Detroit), WFUM-
91.1FM (Flint) and WVGR-
104.1FM (Grand Rapids) 7-8
a.m. on Sundays.
lickering candles and siz-
zling latkes traditionally
symbolize the harmony of
Chanukah. But how about
enhancing this year's observance with
a musical nosh of nostalgia?
Ranging from historical CD collec-
tions of Yiddish and klezmer treasures to
newly giftable greatest-hits compilations
and just-released albums by renowned
rock-and-pop Jewish artists, the follow-
ing releases are deliciously recommended
for eight days and beyond:
From Avenue A to the Great White
Way: Yiddish & American Popular
Songs 1914-1950 (Columbia/Legacy)
contains 50 entertaining rarities from
Martin Natchez is a freelance writer
based in Grand Blanc, Mich.
FROM AVENUE A
YiDDISH & AMERICAN
Burstein's 1925 Yiddish ditty "Yes Sir,
Zi Iz May Kale" ("Yes Sir, That's My
Baby") and novelty obscurities, such as
David Medoff's hilarious "Gevalt! Di
Bananas" (a 1923 Yiddish take on
"Yes, We Have No Bananas") and
1939's "Matzoh Balls" by Slim
Gaillard & His Flat Foot Floogie
Also featured are never-before-heard
masters by Irving Berlin, Sophie
Tucker and Al Jolson.
The Best of Al Jolson: 20th Century
Masters — The Millennium
Collection (Decca/MCA) collects a
dozen classic waxings by the leg-
endary showman who was born Asa
Yoelson, the son of a rabbi.
This long-overdue reissue of the
singer's 1945-1947 sessions is the best
way to hear remarkably scratch-free
versions of "Swanee," "My Mammy,"
CDs on page 82
DVDs with Jewish themes make fine holiday gifts.
Special to the Jewish News
he DVD has become one
of the major technological
breakthroughs of the last
decade. With DVD players
now available for less than $100,
there's little reason not to own one.
There are a number of new and
impressive titles available for the first
time on DVD that have been digitally
remastered; contain new features and
commentary tracks that will entertain,
inform and inspire; and will make
great holiday gifts or additions to your
The Producers (Special Edition)
(MGM/UA Home Video) features the
remastered 1968 classic with Zero
Mostel and Gene Wilder as two
schemers planning to make a fortune
Eddy Friedfeld is a New York-based
by producing the worst play ever made.
Loaded with extras, the DVD, to be
released Dec. 3, offers a documentary
with insightful and often hilarious
recollections from Brooks, Wilder and
other members of the cast and crew.
Mostel also stars in 1970's The
Angel Levine (MGM), an interesting
art piece with Mostel as an aging reli-
gious Jewish tailor who is befriended
by a man named Alex Levine (Harry
Belafonte) — who claims to be an
Also on the humor front are 1992's
Mr. Saturday Night (MGM), Billy
Crystal's serio-comedy about the rise
and fall of a Catskill comic and the peo-
ple in his life (Crystal and co-star David
Paymer provide commentary on the
DVD), and Lenny (1974) (MGM), star-
ring Dustin Hoffman and Valerie
Perrine in a masterful portrayal of leg-
endary comedian Lenny Bruce.
Carl Reiner directs the 1970s cult
classic Where's Poppa?, about a young
lawyer (George Segal in his first star-
ring role) and his relationship with his
elderly mother (Ruth Gordon).
It's unlikely that Jennie and Solomon
Horwitz ever would have expected
their sons Samuel (Shemp), Moses
(Moe) and Jerome (Curly) to grow up
to comprise, along with Larry Fine, the
Three Stooges, one of the greatest
comedy teams in history.
Whether eating at O'Brien's Kosher
Restaurant, or using mishegas as an
ingredient in a "scientific" formula, their
Jewish identity found its way clear
through to their work, and the screening
of the shorts on television in the 1960s
made them more popular than ever.
Columbia Tristar Home Video recently
released a series of 11 DVDs containing
more than 60 of the shorts. Titles include
All the World's a Stooge, Curly Classics
and Healthy, Wealthy and Dumb.
Good Times Home Video features a
four-DVD boxed set, including The
DVDs on page 83