Oy Oy Oy Gevalt! Jews and Punk

By Michael Croland

Praeger (an imprint of ABC-CLIO), 2016

Step inside a fascinating world of Jews who relate to their Jewishness through the vehicle of punk—from prominent figures in the history of punk to musicians who proudly put their Jewish identity front and center.

Many key figures in punk’s history—including members of the Ramones, the Dictators, the Clash, Bad Religion, and NOFX—were Jews.

Why did punk—a subculture and music style characterized by a rejection of established norms—appeal to Jews? How did Jews who were genuinely struggling with their Jewish identity find ways to express it through punk rock? Oy Oy Oy Gevalt! Jews and Punk explores the cultural connections between Jews and punk in music and beyond, documenting how Jews were involved in the punk movement in its origins in the 1970s through the present day.

Author Michael Croland begins by broadly defining what the terms “Jewish” and “punk” mean. This introduction is followed by an exploration of the various ways these ostensibly incompatible identities can gel together, addressing topics such as Jewish humor, New York City, the Holocaust, individualism, “tough Jews,” outsider identity, tikkun olam (“healing the world”), and radicalism. The following chapters discuss prominent Jews in punk, punk rock bands that overtly put their Jewishness on display, and punk influences on other types of Jewish music—for example, klezmer and Hasidic simcha (celebration) music. The book also explores ways that Jewish and punk culture intersect beyond music, including documentaries, young adult novels, zines, cooking, and rabbis.


  • Provides a fascinating exploration of alternative, against-the-grain expressions of Jewish identity in the contemporary United States as seen in music, documentaries, young adult novels, zines, and more
  • Shows the prominent role of Jewish individuals in the history of punk, including such major bands as the Ramones, the Dictators, the Clash, Bad Religion, and NOFX as well as Malcolm McLaren, the manager of the Sex Pistols
  • Documents the significant role that punk has played in shaping key contemporary Jewish music, including klezmer and Radical Jewish Culture

“This comprehensive look at Jews in Punk is a revelation. Croland digs deep to explore notions of identity through art. Never mind the smoked lox, this is a mazel tov cocktail hurled in the face of conventional history.”

—Steven Lee Beeber

Author of The Heebie-Jeebies at CBGB’s: A Secret History of Jewish Punk

© Michael Croland 2018

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