Wacky burlesque Jewish punk: a concert of the Jewish Monkeys in London

The Jewish Monkeys, band from Tel Aviv, visited us in London last week for a series of 3 gigs. I attended the first one, which I found so remarkable that I want to tell a bit about it here.

What an incredible band: excellent musicians, inexhaustible showmen, with an incredible sense of humour, and much honourable values.

The 8-member band had the most annoying journey you can imagine. Already leaving Israel is usually pretty long and exhausting, but when they landed in London, the authorities detained them at Heathrow airport for no less than 8 (eight!) hours. The reason? Difficult to tell, but the UK being one of these countries that consider themselves Eldorados where the rest of the world dreams to migrate to become rich, it seems that the musicians were suspected to try and make money illegally on British soil.

The gig was in the Forge, in Camden, North London.

For this reason, they were late for their first gig, but we did wait for them. And, hats off, despite a clearly shit day, they performed incredibly that evening, straight from the airport, with so much energy and enthusiasm that they truly deserve respect.

They distributed a leaflet named ‘Faith Book’ with the lyrics of their songs – and what a brilliant idea to help convey their engaged messages. Most songs are in English language; some are in Yiddish and were translated in the booklet.

Like a dialogue between a Jew and an Arab fighting over land:

the Arab: Leave our land, and we won’t break your jaw;

the Jew: They killed us in Europe so we need real estate

Or the story of a man who meets the daughter of the Sheik and fucks her so hard he has to marry her and becomes an oil bastard:

I don’t give a shit about pollution

Only the petrol distribution

Is the only right solution

Stop this eco-revolution

Or a sarcastic enumeration of fucked up things in society nonchalantly celebrated with Jewish daidaidai humming

Terry was a terrorist,

Couldn’t handle his father’s fist

The people thought that he’s a joke,

Some of them went up in smoke



Besides denunciation and politically incorrect lyrics, what asarcasm!

The central character is singer Jossi Reich (who introduced himself as “My name is Jossi Reich, like the Third one”), a turbulent Jewish Monkey contorting himself on stage. He met co-singer Roni Boiko in the 1970s when they were members of Frankfurt Synagogue’s boys’ choir.

Jossi Reich

And the music, a sort of Yiddish punk injecting folk and Balkan touches. WOW!


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