Posts tagged: Gladys Gewirtz

Thanksgivukkah 2013

By , November 18, 2013 9:07 am

The last time it happened was in 1888. Chanukah and Thanksgiving…..at the same time!

Some might call it “Thanksgivukkah.”   But whatever you call it, you can be sure that it won’t happen again for tens of thousands of years to come.

This year American Jews may be enjoying crispy, hot latkes with their Thanksgiving turkey. Sounds like a delicious combo to me. Yummmm.

Yet, despite this year’s rare opportunity to celebrate a double dose of survival and gratitude, some things will always remain the same. The Story of Chanukah reaches back in time way past the struggling Pilgrims on New England’s rocky coast. It reaches back to 167 BCE when the Syrian king Antiochus desecrated the Temple and outlawed Jewish practices. The five sons of the Jewish priest, Mattithius, were incited to revolt. Chanukah celebrates their victory and the miracle of the light that lasted for eight days during the Temple’s  re-dedication.

This year the Judaica Sound Archives has created a special Chanukah Sing-a-long video featuring one of the songs sung by Gladys Gewirtz from Menorah’s “Chanukah Song Parade” album. Menorah Records which produced phonograph recordings during the 1940s and 1950s was a pioneer in producing recordings for Jewish children.

Jewish kiddie recordings

By , January 2, 2013 2:03 pm

If you can remember the 1940s and 1950s then you are old enough to remember the heyday of vinyl children’s records. Perhaps you sat for hours on end listening to the phonograph as its spinning turntable produced stories and songs that only seemed to improve  with each playing. This was the golden age  of American vintage kiddie recordings.

Yet, it took a pioneer to ask: why not create kiddie records that would be relevant for Jewish children?

Gladys Gewirtz was that pioneer. She was the first to create recordings specifically for Jewish youngsters. Together with her sister, Roz Grossman, they produced recordings based on familiar fairy tales and nursery rhymes.

Many performers have created Jewish children’s records since that time. The Judaica Sound Archives is delighted to share with you its collection of more than 930 songs and stories for Jewish children on more than 60 albums.  Browse them all or choose one of our favorites.

 

Yanky At The Pesach Seder With Zeude

Alef Bet in Song and Story: Fred Vogel & Jesse Silverstein

Sorry! I Just Don’t Have the Time – An Adventure Story for Jewish Children

Gladys Gewirtz: Pioneer of Jewish Children’s Music Dies

By , April 18, 2012 1:28 pm

Gladys Gewirtz circa 1965

Gladys Gewirtz  touched the lives of thousands of people who never met her. Her recordings were among the first that were digitized and played on the JSA website (www.fau.edu/jsa).  Over  60 years ago, Gladys Gewirtz, had the idea of creating recordings for young Jewish children. Together with her sister, Roz Grossman who wrote the lyrics and patter between songs, she produced recordings based on familiar fairy tales and nursery rhymes. The simple sing-along tunes are endearing and bring back early childhood memories to many listeners.

Gladys attended Julliard and Columbia University. She was music director of the first Camp Ramah, and taught at the Jewish Theological Seminary where she  inspired a generation of music teachers and counselors.

The sisters’ songs deal primarily with Jewish customs and holidays, and also celebrate the newly established State of Israel. Miriam Brosseau writes, “in Gewirtz’s record Mother Goose Songs for Jewish Children and Holiday Play Songs, she and narrator Eve Lippman inject Jewish themes into familiar American children’s songs; Little Boy Blue, for instance, cannot watch over his sheep on Shabbat–he is in shul, of course. The young boys on the cover all sport kippot and Mother Goose is pictured in a matronly shawl, with a prominent Star of David around her neck.”

Through the pioneering work of Gladys Gewirtz and her sister, Roz Grossman,  Jewish life and customs became songs that even pre-schoolers could understand.  It is only now, after so many years, that we can truly appreciate the powerful influence that these simple tunes had in fostering Jewish identity and education for  generations of Jewish children.

Gladys spent a number of years at Kol Yisrael (The Voice of Israel) as a music producer.  She was married to the District Attorney of Jerusalem, Ezra Hedaya.

Together with her brother, Shimon (cantor). and his wife, Ilana (flutist and soloist), Gladys established and directed the first music service at the Hebrew Music College in Jerusalem. She also wrote various cantatas and oratorios on biblical themes. Gladys and her brother Shimon again combined their talents to write a musical  based on The Book of Ruth. entitled Your People are Mine.

Gladys was 84 when she passed away on April 14, 2012. Shimon and Roz are currently living in Israel.  All of us at the Judaica Sound Archives are saddened by her passing and offer sincere condolences to her family. Her memory is a blessing to all who knew her. Her music legacy will not be forgotten.

Click here to listen to all eight (8) of her albums from the JSA Collection.

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