Add diverse DVDs to gift list
By Deborah Moon Seldner
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Three Jewish-interest DVDs —created for vastly different audiences—have been released recently, just in time for Hanukah.
"Cantors: A Faith in Song," also available as a CD, first aired on PBS Sept. 22. Produced before a live audience in Amsterdam's Portuguese Synagogue, "Cantors" is a showcase for the cantorial art, with selections ranging from the deeply religious "Kol Nidre" to secular songs such as "Sunrise, Sunset" from "Fiddler on the Roof."
Produced by TV Matters, the DVD and CD feature cantorial and secular music performed by Naftali Herstik, chief cantor of the Great Synagogue, Jerusalem; Benzion Miller, cantor of the Young Israel Beth-El of Borough Park, Brooklyn; and Alberto Mizrahi, cantor of the Anshe Emet Synagogue in Chicago. Backed by a 40-piece orchestra and a 16-voice choir, the cantors sing traditional synagogue compositions, songs from Yiddish theater, and popular and Israeli folk favorites. The cantors perform individually, in duets and in trios.
The beautiful setting, combined with the cantors' rich, deep voices, creates a pleasant, peaceful experience for the senses. Curl up under a warm blanket with a glass of wine and just relax.
Aimed at those seeking a less cultural experience, "Adam Sandler's Eight
Crazy Nights" is now available on DVD and VHS. Parents should be aware that this animated holiday special's PG-13 rating may be understating the need for advance parental screening. It is definitely not a film for young children.
The film includes quintessential Sandler humor, ranging from subtle to extreme. Though the film has the requisite happy ending for a holiday feature, the humiliation heaped upon one good-hearted central character often crosses the bounds of good taste.
Sandler uses his talent to voice multiple characters—perpetually grumpy Davey, who hates the holiday season; Whitey, the kindly old man who offers to take responsibility for Davey to keep him out of jail; and Whitey's sister Eleanor.
We did, however, receive a DVD that is eminently suitable for small children. "Oy Baby," available on DVD, VHS and CD, is an entertaining musical and visual experience for children as young as 6 months.
Featuring the singing of Portland's Schneiderman sisters, the songs range from soothing melodies such as "Ma Yafeh Hayom" and "Eli Eli," to the jungle-drum rhythms of "Zum Gali Gali." Professional musician and OyBaby music producer Stephanie Schneiderman and vocalist Kim Palumbis live in Portland. Lisa Schneiderman, vocalist and owner of Schneiderman Public Relations, now lives in Los Angeles. The sisters had sung together for years at synagogues, festivals, weddings and nursing homes, but this is the first time the three have united in a recording studio.
OyBaby was created by Rob and Lisi Wolf, of Seattle, who were looking for a Jewish video for their own baby. When they couldn't find one, they decided to create their own.
The video imagery combines a colorful mix of Judaica, toys, puppets, nature and children, designed for Reform, Conservative and Orthodox Jews alike. Between songs, short interlude scenes teach Hebrew letters, numbers and vocabulary. Sixteen children from ages 3 months to 4 years appear in the video.
Ordering information is available at www.oybaby.com.