Running amok in a friend’s CD collection can be hit or miss. Listening to every song the Beatles ever recorded? Awesome. Listening to every song that Ace of Base put out? Not quite as cool.
The Judaica Sound Archive is an amazing resource–a collection of literally thousands of Jewish songs spanning over a century. Original Al Jolson and Molly Picon albums are available in their entirety, with hits of old Hollywood and Yiddish theatre. Its section on cantorial music is fascinating to listen to, and the Sephardic section includes several albums that are equally educational and entertaining.
Borscht Belt comedian Mike Burstyn performs a pair of radio plays with his parents. A collection of Yiddish musical stage shows from 1917-1918 sounds hilarious, even if you don’t actually understand the language. And “Passover Music Box” features the original 1950s versions of “Let My People Go” and “Frogs,” both written by Shirley Cohen–great-aunt of MJL’s own Daniel Septimus.
The website also features an Israel-based world music section and a huge children’s section. The archive is searchable by genre, performer, and song title, but the truth is, the Judaica Sound Archive works best when you use it like a jukebox–click on a random page, and let yourself be pleasantly surprised by what you hear.