There is life after "The Dreidel Song" and Adam Sandler's "Hanukkah Song."
Hard to imagine that it took decades for a second "mainstream" Jewish holiday song to pervade the airwaves...and it was by the guy who brought us "Happy Gilmore" and "The Waterboy."
Well, fear not for the ears of your family's younger set. The MAMA DONI BAND has released MAMI DONI'S JEWISH HOLIDAY PARTY on DVD (with accompanying soundtrack CD).
"Mama" Doni Zasloff and instrumentalist Eric Lindberg have set in motion three half-hour episodes (Hanukkah, Passover, and Shabbat) that explore the concepts, spirituality, and uplifting qualities of those events. Furthering her persona as a "spiritual cowgirl," the duo used bluegrass music. See, you don't need to engage a klezmer band to evoke the traditions of the Hebrew people. If "Bluegrass Dayeinu" doesn't change your perspective, then go right back to Cantor Yossele Rosenblatt.
The episodes include songs, stories, and even cooking segments (sponsored by Streit's Matzos, a longtime Mama Doni support institution). According to Doni, the most exciting aspect of creating this DVD and CD was joining forces with Eric Lindberg in writing contemporary bluegrass music. "The Hora has a type of energy and similar beat and feeling to bluegrass music," she said. "We've taken that energy and the Jewish context...like our old time rendition of the traditional Shabbat song, 'Bim Bam' and our lively bluegrass theme song, 'Livin' the Now'."
Based on the standards for kid TV (Sesame Street remains the high bar and Teletubbies remains the drizzling crud), Mami Doni lands much closer to the top of the spectrum. Don't try to pitch these episode to teens, however, unless you want to be destroyed by sarcasm and much eye-rolling. They are best for little ones and pre-teens.
I would be hard-pressed to come up with a list of secular recording artists. The Singing Nun was another generation. Cat Stevens (aka Yusam Islam) preaches muslim values now. And Mama Doni and company are keeping it real for kids who don't want to be too cool for Shul.
MAMA DONI'S JEWISH HOLIDAY PARTY is available at Amazon, iTunes, and Barnes & Noble.
Here is the Hanukkah video for "Eight":