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Ready to rock the kibbutz

December 02, 2004|Christine N. Ziemba

Jewish music in America has generally been relegated to the wedding rendition of "Hava Nagila," "Yiddish Radio Project" segments on NPR or the occasional production of "Fiddler on the Roof." But the Makkabees' "Vol. Aleph" -- an album that's in limited release -- is updating traditional Jewish folk songs in ways that Father Abraham couldn't imagine.

Forget the clarinets and klezmer: "Vol. Aleph" is Hebrew heavy metal that appeals to Jews and gentiles. Combining centuries-old lyrics with the industrial sound of Rammstein and a few falsettos a la the Darkness, the Makkabees' CD features such temple-party classics as "Shabbat Shalom," "Shma' " and "Hinei Matov."

Evolving from a studio pet project of the Brain Factory, a Los Angeles-based film and music production company, the Makkabees use unconventional means to preserve Jewish heritage, says album producer and Brain Factory co-founder Jon Schnitzer.

At the genesis of the project, Schnitzer and partner Jinsha Moore enlisted Zohar, an enigmatic Los Angeles singer-musician, to play all instruments and record each vocal track for "Vol. Aleph," which quietly launched online and at Tower Records earlier this fall. But overwhelming response to the music prompted Zohar and the Brain Factory to assemble a full band to fulfill live performance requests (and yes, they'll do weddings and bar mitzvahs).

On Saturday, "Vol. Aleph's" official record release party, "The Hanukkah~Bar Mitzvah DoubleFun Extravaganza," will feature live music, dreidel games and photo ops with a rabbi, and will no doubt inspire guests to sing, chant and dance the hora -- in the mosh pit.


The Makkabees' Hanukkah~Bar Mitzvah DoubleFun Extravaganza, Gershwin Hollywood Hotel, 5533 Hollywood Blvd. 8:30 p.m. Saturday. $5 cover goes to Mazon, a hunger relief organization. Info: www.mak

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