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How Do You Define Jewish Music?

How Do You Define Jewish Music?

by Hadassah Levy on Jan 14, 2024

Is music considered Jewish only if the words are from pesukim or tefillah? Or can we also consider songs in other languages, contemporary Hebrew compositions and tunes that are borrowed from other cultures as being part of the Jewish music corpus?

As part of our Music series, we asked three Jewish music stars how they define Jewish music and their answers were very interesting.

Yaakov Shwekey, whose music includes Chasidic tunes, Sephardic music and modern songs in English and Hebrew, says that Jewish music can be defined by one word. Want to know what that word is? Watch Yaakov Shwekey’s video to find out.


Rabbi Shlomo Katz notes that this is a big question that comes up more and more today. He says Jewish music can’t just be about tacking a fun melody onto some words from Jewish sources. His definition is more about how the music makes you feel. Learn more by watching Rabbi Shlomo Katz’s video.


Alex Clare, a British singer and songwriter who became a baal teshuvah just as his music career was taking off, composes songs that would not be considered traditional Jewish music. He feels that the most important thing about music is the intention behind it. What does that mean exactly? Find out in Alex Clare’s video.


The most important thing we learned from our interviews with these great Jewish singers is that the Jewish community is lucky to have people who recognize the transformative quality of music and bring the world songs that change who we are and what we can be.


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