5 songs that are ‘Good for the Jews’

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“Good For the Jews” duo David Fagin, left, and Rob Tannenbaum Photo by Christine Wright

It was the night before Christmas Eve, and a crowd had gathered at Union Stage in Washington to see the musical-comedy duo “Good For the Jews.”

If you didn’t catch their set, during which singer-songwriter Rob Tannenbaum and guitarist-singer David Fagin performed their original songs about Jewish tradition, food and women, don’t despair. After the show, Tannenbaum talked to WJW about the inspiration behind five of their biggest songs.


‘They Tried to Kill Us, We Survived, Let’s Eat.’

One of their best-known songs, this twisted retelling of the Passover story begins: “We were slaves to pharaoh in Egypt/ The year was 1492/ Hitler had just invaded Poland/ Madonna had just become a Jew.”

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“I think that song might sum up what we do better than the other songs, said Tannenbaum who, like Fagin, is as
reticent in divulging his age as he is eager to pop taboos. “It’s funny, it’s loving, we’re making fun of ourselves [and] it’s full of pop culture references.”

During their Union Stage performance, the duo listed Jared Kushner as one of the Ten Plagues. The mention of President
Donald Trump’s Jewish son-in-law drew cheers and laughter from the audience.


‘Reuben the Hook-Nosed Reindeer’

The song introduces Reuben, the reindeer with the big hook nose, who happens to be Jewish. He doesn’t pull the sleigh, but he does everything else to prepare for the sleigh for Christmas, while struggling to find bagels and lox and dealing with Rudolph, who he thinks is a “Nazi kraut.”

Sure the hook-nosed Jew is one of the biggest anti-Semitic stereotypes.

Tannenbaum bets his audience gets the irony.

“Jews understand satire and they understand making fun of themselves. We’re the people that invented making fun of yourself. If you make fun of yourself in a way that’s clearly loving, people accept it,” Tannenbaum said.

‘Jews for Jesus’

The song calls out the evangelical group “Jews for Jesus,” whose members consider themselves Jews while believing that Jesus was the messiah. That’s a contradiction for Tannenbaum. “You can’t be a Jew for Jesus; you can’t be a
vegetarian for meat,” he said.

‘If You’re a Jew Who Voted for Donald Trump’

This is Good for the Jews’ newest song and their first inspired by political events. A lot of Tannenbaum’s inspiration comes from things that he loves or that annoy him. The president and his supporters fall into the latter category.

“I am just kind of horrified by the support that Trump has had from American Jews,” Tannenbaum said. “If there is a human embodiment of the antithesis of tikkun olam [repairing the world], it’s Donald Trump, and I don’t think it’s a very Jewish thing to vote for Trump regardless of his support for Israel,” he said.

‘I’m Better Looking (Than the Guy You’re Going Out With)’

Tannenbaum wrote this song about an ex-girlfriend. After they broke up, she began dating another guy. During every performance of the song, Tannenbaum will pick a couple in the audience and sing the song to them as a way to make fun of the male partner.

“Once I started including people in the audience [in the song], it became much more unpredictable. [It’s the] most terrifying [to perform] because I don’t know what’s going to happen,” he said.

He’s never been hurt, but there was one performance where the guy, who had seen a previous performance, proposed to
his girlfriend.

There was a lot of good natured teasing at the Washington show, of all the audience members. Tannebaum doesn’t think it matters if they’re Jewish.

“At this point, everyone who enjoys American popular culture understands Judaism. People who come to the show might psycho-Semitic. They understand the Jewish sensibility. You don’t have to be Jewish to understand our music,” he said. “But I want to play a show for 19,000 goyim and see how we go over.”

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