Jewish HistoryPop CultureJewish Culture & IdeasMusic

Jews on Vinyl

Feb 6, 2009–Aug 22, 2010

Jews on Vinyl is a unique exhibition based on Josh Kun and Roger Bennett's book And You Shall Know Us by the Trail of Our Vinyl: The Jewish Past as Told by the Records We Have Loved and Lost, which spans the history of Jewish recorded music from the 1940s to the 1980s, weaving an account that begins with sacred songs and ends with the holy trinity of Neil, Barbra, and Barry.

THE ALBUMS
about the exhibition

What started out as a mutual affinity for kitschy Jewish album covers—think Neil Diamond baring his chest hair on the cover of Hot August Night or Barbra Streisand in hot pants on the cover of Streisand Superman—soon became a quest for identity, history, and culture between the grooves of LPs. Together, guest curators Roger Bennett and Josh Kun embarked on a thrilling journey, scouring the world to collect thousands of vinyl LPs from attics, garage sales, and dusty archives. Pieced together, these scratched, once-loved and now-forgotten audio gems tell a vibrant tale: the story of Jews in America.

Guest curated by Roger Bennett and Josh Kun, creators of trailofourvinyl.com and co-founders of Reboot Stereophonic, a nonprofit record label dedicated to rereleasing lost classics from the Jewish past, Jews on Vinyl is a unique exhibition based on their new book: And You Shall Know Us by the Trail of Our Vinyl: The Jewish Past as Told by the Records We Have Loved and Lost. The story in the book spans the history of Jewish recorded music from the 1940s to the 1980s, weaving an account that begins with sacred songs and ends with the holy trinity of Neil, Barbra, and Barry.

The exhibition features a soundtrack of highlights from these LPs to provide opportunities for Museum visitors to experience forgotten moments in Jewish American pop history. Much of the music is no longer available in any format and through this exhibition, audiences will have the unprecedented opportunity to explore new perspectives on Jewish identity and history through this exciting aspect of Jewish culture.

gallery photos
about the curators

Roger Bennett is a board member of the Academy of the Recent Past and the co-creator of Bar Mitzvah Disco and Camp Camp: Where Fantasy Island Meets Lord of the Flies.

Josh Kun is associate professor at the Annenberg School for Communication and the Department of American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California. He is the author of Audiotopia: Music, Race, and America, and a contributor to the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.

sleevefaces
see more photos

View more album covers, images from the galleries, and the Members' opening celebration of Jews on Vinyl on The Contemporary Jewish Museum's Flickr page.

supporters

Jews on Vinyl is organized by The Contemporary Jewish Museum with guest curators, Roger Bennett and Josh Kun. The exhibition has been made possible by the generous support of Kenneth and Anna Zankel. We also acknowledge assistance from Howard Rice Nemerovski Canady Falk & Rabkin, a professional corporation. Furniture styling by Espacio Home. Lead Hotel Sponsorship by Palomar.

Lead Inaugural Year Exhibition Support is by the Koret Foundation and the Taube Foundation.

Image Credit

Header image: Bagels and Bongos, Irving Fields Trio. Decca, 1959. Courtesy of Josh Kun and Roger Bennett. Gallery photos: Jews on Vinyl: And You Shall Know Us by the Trail of Our Vinyl, on view Feb 6–Jun 9, 2009 at The Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco. Photo credit: Ian Reeves