Good For The Jews: Irreverent Hanukkah Songs The music of Good for the Jews provides snarky, funny commentary on Jewish pride and culture. Here, just in time for Hanukkah, members Rob Tannenbaum and David Fagin reveal their inspirations and provide a taste of their comedic tunes.
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Good For The Jews: Irreverent Hanukkah Songs

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Good For The Jews: Irreverent Hanukkah Songs

Good For The Jews: Irreverent Hanukkah Songs

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Back now with Day to Day. They rock, they roll, they kvetch. Rob Tannenbaum and David Fagin are the musical duo known as Good for the Jews. They sing about hot Jewish chicks, about heading down to Florida and about, the match-making Web site called JDate.

(Soundbite of the song "JDate")


Jdate, Jdate Sign up and find your Jmate Everyone's funny and everyone's smart And five years older than they say they are On Jdate...

BRAND: Rob and David are on a special Hanukkah tour this week. Tonight, they are here in Los Angeles. I spoke with them a few days ago from our studios in New York. Rob said they've been doing this shtick for quite some time.

Mr. ROB TANNENBAUM (Good for the Jews): I pretty much invented the idea that Jews could be hip because when I was growing up it was not really hip to be a Jew. Being a Jew is something that, you know, you got pennies thrown at you for. And what I wanted to do really was have songs that gave secular Jews a sense of belonging and propriety about Judaism.

COHEN: Well, let's get a little taste of this. You guys have a Christmas tune. It is called "It's Good to be a Jew at Christmas." Can you play us a little bit?

Mr. TANNENBAUM: Should, should we?

Mr. DAVID FAGIN (Good for the Jews): I guess so.

Mr. TANNENBAUM: Yeah, all right.

Mr. FAGIN: All right.

(Soundbite of song "It's Good to be A Jew at Christmas")


I've never known the giddy joys Of other Christmas girls and boys. I've never sat on Santa's knee.

I've never tasted Christmas ham. Or caroled "Winter Wonderland." I'm just not down with Christianity. You see. One, two, three.

It's good to be a Jew at Christmas. It's nice to be a Jew this time of year. It's clear that we're the chosen ones. We got eight nights, they got just one. It's good to be a Jew at Christmas...

Mr. TANNENBAUM: Thank you.

COHEN: Lovely, lovely.

Mr. FAGIN: Yes, wonderful.

COHEN: OK. So, let's say we go to one of your shows. What is it like, the live Good For the Jews show? What do you do?

Mr. TANNENBAUM: Well, first of all, you stand on a very long line because we're so incredibly popular.

Mr. FAGIN: Right.

Mr. TANNENBAUM: It's a mixture of comedy and singing. So, you know, we've been described as a Jewish flight of the concords.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MR. FAGIN: It's more like flight of jet blues.

COHEN: Well and David, I understand this is actually in your blood. Your mom was a Borscht Belt singer. Is that right?

Mr. FAGIN: Yeah, yeah. She performed in the Catskills for 30 years. And my sister and I got the first class education growing up around Buddy Hackett and Alan King and Robert Klein. And you know, anybody who was anybody back in the '60s, '70s and '80s. And the best part is today she performs to those same people that she performed 30 years ago down in Boca.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. FAGIN: At the country clubs.

COHEN: And what about you guys when you perform, what's the crowd like? Are they all members of the tribe?

Mr. FAGIN: They're usually asleep by the second song.

Mr. TANNENBAUM: I'd say probably about 20 percent of the crowd is not Jewish. But if you come to the show and you're not Jewish, it's OK. You know, we sing in English. We don't sing in Hebrew or Jewish or some weird foreign language. And we also tell people if there's something that we do on stage that you don't understand because you're not Jewish, just turn to the person next you, and it'll be explained by someone who had much higher SAT scores than you did.

(Soundbite of laughter)

COHEN: I'd like you guys, if you don't mind, to indulge me here and play a little bit from one of your songs. It's called "They Tried to Kill Us, We Survived, Let's Eat." Can we get a little a version of that?

Mr. FAGIN: Do we have that one?

Mr. TANNENBAUM: So this song is based on what I learned about the Passover holiday while sitting at my family table. And there may be a couple of historical inaccuracies in it. We're still fact checking the song.

Mr. FAGIN: Right.

(Soundbite of song "They Tried to Kill Us, We Survived, Let's Eat")


We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt. The year was 1492. Hitler had just invaded Poland. Madonna had just become a Jew. Moses was found on the Potomac. Then he marched with Martin Luther King. He came back to free us from our bondage. 'Cause S&M has never been our thing. They tried to kill us, we survived, let's eat, let's eat. They tried to kill us, we were faster on our feet. So they chase us to the border. There's a parting of the water. Tried to kill us, we survived, let's eat, let's eat, let's eat...

COHEN: Fantastic.

Mr. TANNENBAUM: Whew! It's not that short by the way. It's - there are more verses to it.

Mr. FAGIN: And there's pyrotechnics involved, too. It gets crazy.


Mr. FAGIN: It's our "Stairway to Heaven."

(Soundbite of laughter)

COHEN: So, can we just get a little taste of something David, Rob. Maybe we can just, you know, a little bit of material, a joke that you do during Hanukkah. Let's hear it.

Mr. FAGIN: To me, one of the problems with Hanukkah is the unpredictability of it. You know, if you stop and think for a moment about the successful and popular holidays, they do come at the same time every year, the same date every year. You know, you're never wondering, oh, when is Valentine's Day of this year? I think that if Jews really want to be serious about making their religion more popular, we just need to pick a fixed date for Hanukkah.

Mr. TANNENBAUM: Yeah, pick a fix date, pick a spelling too, for Christ's sakes.

Mr. FAGIN: You have to settle on one spelling.


Mr. FAGIN: Have you ever tried to Google Hanukkah? It's pretty much impossible.

COHEN: OK, so what would your spelling be?

Mr. TANNENBAUM: Well there has to...

Mr. FAGIN: It's up for grabs.

Mr. TANNENBAUM: No, I think there has to be a "cha"(ph) in it.

Mr. FAGIN: There's got to be a "cha"(ph) because that's the combination of Russian, German and bronchitis.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. FAGIN: There's always got to be one of those.

COHEN: Rob Tannenbaum and David Fagin are Good for the Jews. They are on Hanukkah, Chanukkah tour this week.

(Soundbite of laughter)

COHEN: Thanks, guys.

Mr. FAGIN: Thank you, Alex.

Mr. TANNENBAUM: Thank you, Alex.

(Soundbite of song "Goin' Down To Boca")


Going down to Boca. Going down to Boca. There's no change of seasons. It's always hot. We take coumadin so our blood won't clot. We play cards all day, and we don't eat pork. And we read The Times because we're from New York. Life is always great in the sunshine...

COHEN: You can hear David and Rob sing a couple of tunes in their entirety at our Web site, Day to Day is a production of NPR News with contributions from I'm Alex Cohen. Merry Chrismakkah.

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