The punk rock movement developed in the 1970s as a genre of fast, hard-edged music which defied the norms of mainstream music culture. Punk Jews, a new documentary premiering in New York on December 11th (trailer here), tells a story of communities and individuals who use art, music, activism, and performance to challenge stereotypes, break down barriers, and expand the borders of Jewish cultural life.
Employing a broad definition of “punk,” highlights of Punk Jews include Y-love, an African-American, gay, Jewish hip-hop artist; Yishai, the lead singer of the hardcore Jewish punk band Mashiach Oi!; and the Succos Mob, a radical Yiddish performance and theater troupe. One of the film’s most memorable scenes takes place at a weekly NYC party called Chulent, which attracts people who live on the fringes of the Hasidic community. The film examines the emerging movement of provocateurs and committed Jews who are asking, each in his or her own way, what Jewishness can mean in the 21st century.
Photo credit: The National Center for Jewish Film.