Regina Spektor Performing at White House for Jewish Heritage Month

07/12/2010

Spektor is thrilled to join President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama to celebrate the range and depth of the Jewish American heritage and contributions to American culture.

“Having moved to America from Soviet Russia as a child with my family, we dreamed of reconnecting with our religious traditions and of making America our home” says Spektor. “Having lived here for over twenty years, it is an unimaginable honor to be invited to the White House by President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, to an event celebrating Jewish Americans, and to be counted among them. Nothing in the world could make us feel more accepted and at home!”

SFCritic just received this wire earlier today. Two comments: 1) Why didn’t someone tell me there was such thing as a Jewish heritage month? Does this mean there are specials on bagels, because I would like that (I’m Jewish, and I don’t mean this to be inflammatory, but it would really be great if there was a bagel or knish special for the month) 2) I must say Regina Spektor is a much better choice than Barbara Streisand. Right?

After originally adding the snark commentary above, I was asked to go a little further in-depth, rather than be cynical. Oh dear me!

In an interview with Tweed Magazine Regina Spektor was asked:

Tweed:
How does your experience growing up affect your current political views?

Regina: I think in some ways I am more idealistic politically than many of my American friends, who were born here. I have an immigrant’s America—and so I’m lucky—it’s a different kind of love. You can still be critical, but you have more perspective than someone who is born here. So you just smile and listen to your people talk about how they are not free at some party. While they blast whatever music they want, smoke pot, watch any documentary, read any book, write any article, wear any statement, take any class, travel to any country—and don’t get shipped to Siberia, or a labor camp, or taken out back and shot the next day… Yeah, everything is relative.”

As a Jew with friends who are Jewish immigrants from all parts of the former Soviet Union, I’ve heard statements like Regina’s before. I won’t argue the reality of the “American Dream,” but let be stated that many believe it. Regina Spektor, formerly from Moscow, immigrated to the United States to avoid persecution and discrimination. Fifty-years ago this invitation during the Cold War era, Jewish Heritage Month or not, would never have occurred. Think about that for a second. Now, will there ever be a Muslim Heritage Month?

In pornography a “fluffer” is a person who sexual “prepares” an actor before a scene. This event seems like a fluff event–and we’re getting sweet with Regina Spektor. Not that Spektor should have turned down the event, but by honoring Jewish heritage are we taking steps forward, or separating ourselves?

This is tangential, but will the public image of Jews in the US benefit from Regina Spektor singing at The White House? Will the event address the growing international concern that American Jews are equally responsible for the divide in the Middle East because of American subsidization of Israel? Not likely. Will a Muslim Heritage Month or Catholic Heritage Month be created? Have we completely absolved ourselves of the separation of “church and state?” Does this event assume that Judaism is a race?

Jewish Heritage Month is in its fifth year, which means it began at the hands of George Bush.