Culture, Global, Identity, Religion

Friday Challenge: Can You Match These Musicians to the Jewish Day Schools They Attended

Indie Rocker and Jewish Day School Alumna Regina Spektor
As those of you who have been following this season’s America’s Got Talent and/or have read my previous post know, one of the most promising contenders in the show is a religious Jew who is a singer. Not only that, but he is an incoming freshman at the Jewish high school I attended. Curious if any ICJA alumni before have ever enjoyed success and fame as popular musicians, I did some searching but could not find anything. To my knowledge, the only music icon to have graduated from ICJA was Disturbed front man David Draiman  (who first spent some time at the Wisconsin Institute of Torah Study, WITS, and Torah Valley High in California).
I then expanded my search to include alumni rockers from any major Jewish day school in the U.S., the U.K., Canada, and Australia.  (Incidentally, this search revealed volumes about the institutional identities of the individual schools. While some schools mention Nobel Prize winners and Rhodes Scholars among their graduates, others mention only male ‘notable alumni,’ and some only rabbis, major Jewish community leaders, and mega-machers.  And some even mention convicted murderers. I’m looking at you, Charles E Smith Jewish Day School.) Interestingly, the rock star Jew-school grads hail disproportionately from Orthodox day schools.  Care to interpret?
Anyway, on to the challenge (answers after the ‘more,’ but no peeking!):
which of these famous musicians attended which of these Jewish Day Schools?                                                                                                              Hint: two or more may have attended the same school
1. Ari Gold                                                       a. Jews’ Free School (London)

2 Mike Gordon (Phish)                            b. Moriah War Memorial College (Sydney)

3. Jay Kay (Jamiroquai)                            c. Ramaz School (New York)

4. Ben Lee                                                         d. Salanter Akiba Riverdale Academy

5. Coby Linder (Say Anything)               e. Shalhevet High School (LA)
6. Achinoam Nini (aka Noa)                   f. Solomon Schechter Day School
                                                                             of Essex and Union (West Orange, NJ)
7. Kathleen Reiter                             g. Solomon Schechter Day School of                                                                                                                  Greater Boston (Newton, MA)

8. Gabe Saporta (Cobra Starship)     h. United Talmud Torahs of Montreal

9. Regina Spektor

10. Juanita Stein (Howling Bells)

1. d & c, 2. g, 3. a , 4. b , 5. e, 6. d & c , 7. h, 8. f, 9. d, 10. b
7-10 answered correctly: Talmid Chakham
3-6 answered correctly: not sure if you’ll still get into med school
0-2 answered correctly: Am Ha’Aretz

23 thoughts on “Friday Challenge: Can You Match These Musicians to the Jewish Day Schools They Attended

  1. Interestingly, the rock star Jew-school grads hail disproportionately from Orthodox day schools. Care to interpret?
    Do Orthodox day schools just represent a disproportionate number of Jewish day schools in general?

  2. Leonard Cohen attended Roslyn Elementary and Westmount High. But that wouldn’t be the first time you guys got something wrong.

  3. Oh MAN, ck, you got us now. Guess all of the questions we raised about sexism were dumb. Probably if you just keep writing condescending comments we’ll renounce our sinful feminist ways eventually.
    If you treat other folks’ ideas or concerns as legitimate (i.e. point out corrections kindly), you’re likely to get much further. For instance, none of the posts we wrote about the whole bloggers-for-money fiasco called you a bad person – we all do sexist things without realizing it. As a straight, white, cisgendered male with college-educated parents, G-d only knows I’m as capable of forgetting my privilege as the next person. Having that pointed out can be an opportunity to learn.

  4. Is that response some kind of joke renaissanceboy? You called my response lame and the post misogynistic and now you want to have a constructive dialog and a kumbaya moment? Are you kidding? Three posts in response to my alleged sexism and you geniuses couldn’t dig up or cite any of the direct responses by the women involved? You can also ask me for their email addresses and talk to them yourselves. Y’all know how to reach me. Your complete dismissal of their opinions and their agency is the most egregious example of sexism I have yet witnessed in this affair. I guess y’all were too busy frothing at the mouth to get your posts up. Don’t talk to me about productive dialog. And for God’s sake take off that image of the Chafetz Chaim if this is the kind of dialog you want.

  5. And themicah? Drake went to Forest Hill Public School for elementary and Forest Hill Collegiate for High School (didn’t graduate). Both, located in Toronto, are predominantly Jewish but neither is a Jewish Day School.

  6. Dude, your response was lame. And the post was misogynistic.
    Don’t pull this “we dismissed their agency” thing. I reacted to what I saw. I’m well aware of the pitfalls of talking about feminism as a man – that if my opinion comes into conflict with a woman’s, it’s easy for me to start patronizing without even realizing it. But what I was criticizing was the language y’all used in the post, and the fact that it was seen as a good idea to begin with. Neither I nor Naomi nor any of the other critiques I’ve read or heard was based on the idea that the women hadn’t given permission. I never though they were being duped or anything like that.
    If I was interested in a private conversation about this over email, I would have had one. I chose to contribute by writing a blog post, one that you’ve yet to respond to in any way except derision.
    So to sum up: I’m honestly sorry if I’ve been condescending. But I’m not sorry for writing the post or continuing to defend my criticism.

  7. I believe Draiman’s band was called Disturbed.
    @ck’s corrections are appropriate but the tone is not. Please keep it civil, or we’ll farm you out to a day school for auction.

  8. NO , but I’m pretty sure that I read somewhere that even though his mother isn’t Jewish (and thus, he isn’t either) his father sent him to a (possibly the only) Jewish day school.

  9. Calling gender conforming men “cisgendered” is a form of queerist othering. I can’t believe Jewschool would allow that to stand.
    I don’t practice othering of gender nonconformists or LGBT folks, and I don’t appreciate it done to others.
    People have the right to self determine; until such time as the gender conforming male population demands to be recognized by the label “cisgendered” keep in the ivory tower!

  10. With all due respect Raysh, please allow me to correct your perception of reality. Leonard Cohen attended and graduated from Westmount High where he was President of the Students’ Council.
    Here’s his Westmount High School yearbook entry:
    Cohen was introduced to Irving Layton by his McGill Poetry professor Louis Dubek – this was after Cohen graduated High School.
    The Wikipedia entry on Leonard Cohen makes no mention of Herzliah or UTT while citing the work of authorized Cohen biographer, Ira B. Nadel who wrote “Various Positions: A Life of Leonard Cohen” (1996). You can look it up on Google Books and find that Cohen attended Hebrew School two afternoons a week and on Sunday at the Shaar Shamayim. a Conservadox Westmount Synagogue. A search of the book’s text makes no mention of Herzliah, but does make multiple references to his non-Jewish day school education.
    Sorry Raysh. You get an F- for your research skills. I would hope that you revisit some of your other presumptions as well. You might find that I am not quite so “disgusting.”

  11. @KRG, that is interesting about Sean Paul. It appears he did attend Jamaica’s Hillel Academy. Thanks!
    @ck, first off, I never called you, as an individual, disgusting. I have never even met you. But speaking of personal connections, I should point out here that my original source for Cohen attending Jewish Day school is actually through family friends of his in Montreal.
    It is my sincere hope that you wrote your comment in an ironic vein (trying to take me to school while citing Wikipedia and a fan forum as your ‘credible’ sources. Seriously?), but in case you did not, let me direct your attention to several more ‘legit’ online and print sources, such as these:
    —Christopher Sans’ “American Troubadours: Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, and Other Singer-Songwriters of the 1960’s”: “Cohen attended Herzliah High School, where he studied with poet Irving Layton.” (pg 131)
    —from “The Poetics of American Song Lyrics” (ed. Charlotte Pence): “At the Jewish day school Herzliah, he became an acolyte of Irving Layton, to whom Cohen, much later in his life, would dedicate the song “Go No More A-Roving,” a setting of a Byron ballad that poignantly capped an itinerant life…” (pg 225)
    …and since you do mention wikipedia-type sites, I’ll throw this in too: (And the wikipedia entry for UTT explicitly mentions Leonard Cohen as having attended school there)
    Because something is omitted from a Wikipedia biography does not mean it did not exist. Case in point: I randomly opened David Draiman’s Wikipedia entry just now. Nowhere does it mention that he actually graduated from ICJA (they do mention Torah Valley Academy though). But my older sister knew him from there, and he even mentions it in interviews. As for what I have heard/read about Leonard Cohen, my understanding is that he did attend Roslyn Elementary and Westmount High but spent time at Herzliah (which is K-11) somewhere around the middle school year/early high school years—but the exact years I would need to confirm. And if you really doubt me, call UTT and ask them yourself. But ck, don’t let this all ruin my chances of scoring a date with you.
    @miri, that’s wild about the Goldstein-Flatbush connection. Excellent Jew trivia!
    I also just found out that Diwon (formerly “DJ Handler”) attended ICJA, which is pretty neat, but not terribly surprising.

  12. Raysh, I showed you his yearbook entry. I pointed you to his authorized biography. I myself am from Montreal. Cohen was from a prominent Westmount family. They don’t usually send their children to a parochial school which in those days was very looked down upon. Stil looked down upon today. This whole Leonard Cohen went to Herzeliah and studied with Irving Layton thing is a myth. He never attended Herz. He only met L aston in College. That whole chunk of information is in the authorized biography – the one that Cohen participated in. Big Urban Myth. I’ll address your other points hen I get to Bratislava.

  13. Woooo! Bus has Wifi! Ok so again, Cohen only met Layton in McGill. This according to Cohen via his authorized biography. Now I know you are disparaging my sources but again, please explain the yearbook page? The Student Council Presidency? And the very detailed information found in the biography which again, is available on Google Books, and specifies Jewish afternoon school, informal Jewish education with a religious uncle, the effect the Holocaust and his sister’s trip to Israel in 1949 had on his Jewish education but absolutely zip on being taught by Irving Layton, who was an extremely popular and influential teacher at Herz. Does that make sense Raysh? In any case, as I mentioned, I am a Montrealer and well aware of this Urban myth. It’s been cited and recited but it has absolutely no basis in fact. None at all. And all the info I just cited? It’s not from Wikipedia. It’s from his very detailed biography.
    Damn. The Slovakian countryside is SO lush! You can smell the water – it really stands out compared to the aridity of Israel. But I digress.
    Scoring a date? Oy… But I do like your Moxie! And no, before someone else jumps down my throat, I am not being condescending or misogynistic. I don’t even know if Raysh is a boy or a girl or gay or straight or uh…cisgendered. If you can in fact find authoritative info about Cohen attending Herz and when, I’d sincerely love to see it. Clearly this is something that lacks documentation. I may just send him an email. We’ll see.

  14. Ok: a verdict on the Leonard Cohen question. I was able to track down someone who works with alumni records at Herzliah, and their records do not indicate that he studied there, even in passing. Thanks ck for bringing this to our attention. What is interesting though is the extent to which this was assumed to be true–even among some people who personally knew him (my original source). I do wonder how this began. In any case, I have adjusted the post accordingly for accuracy. It turns out that Kathleen Reiter (this season’s winner of the Israeli version of “The Voice”) did, indeed, graduate from Herzliah, so I have swapped her for Cohen.
    Here she performs in the ‘blind auditions’ part:

  15. Thank you Raysh for clarifying that issue once and for all. It is actually remarkable how many people have repeated that myth, almost word for word. I hope that in light of this, you might want to revisit some of your other presumptions.
    For instance “It’s also disgusting that this entire pitch presupposed that any of their potential big donors would be hetero males (I seriously doubt they were thinking about lesbians).” Did any of our pitch mention the sex or sexual orientation of any potential donor? The answer is no. Now you don’t know me but allow me to fill you in a little. When I march at Pride in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv it’s invariably with Bat Kol. I think about Lesbians ALL the time because they form a big chunk (let’s be honest, the bulk) of my circle of friends. Here they are chastising me for being a misogynist: and here I am being chastised again: – What’s ironic in this “fund raising fiasco” is that one of our biggest fundraisers to date was to benefit an NGO in Israel called the Task Force for Human Trafficking, working on behalf of victims of sex trafficking. So in light of that, might there possibly be another way of perceiving that original post?

  16. For the record, since arriving here in Bratislava I have heard no less than three different covers of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” on the radio. And I’m not even listening to the radio that much. Coincidence? I think not.

  17. Haha! This is hilarious…I can’t believe a post about pop singers got so intense.
    Back to the actual post.
    Here are even more questions:
    It’s surprising how much pop music came out of Orthodox religious schools…maybe it was all of the enforced singing?
    Did the Beastie Boys go to a religious Jewish school in Manhattan (though I think it may have been conservative?)
    Random aside: Any way I went to Ramaz (for a tiny bit) and Natasha Lyonne went there too.
    Back to questions: Also who do you like the best? My favesies is Regina Spektor, Leonard is meh to me.

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