Irving Berlin. Mel Tormé. Jay Livingston. Ray Evans. Gloria Shayne Baker. What do these people have in common? They’re all Jews, and they all wrote Christmas carols.
Musical documentary “Dreaming of a Jewish Christmas” tells their unusual tale. It’s a fun, funky diversion for music buffs and pop culture junkies. Oh, and much of it is set inside a Chinese restaurant, site of so many Jewish Christmases. What could be better than crab rangoons roasting over an open fire? Soy sauce nipping at your nose?
The documentary has fun archival footage, plenty of holiday crooning and interviews with unlikely music connoisseurs (Alan Dershowitz?) and others: Ben Sidran (“There Was a Fire: Jews, Music and the American Dream“), Ophira Eisenberg (The Moth), Robert Harris, Jennifer 8. Lee (“The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food“), Jackie Mason (old-timey comedian) and more, like David Wall from Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band. Oh, yes, that’s a band. Consider it “Behind the Music” for the Jews.
There’s a message, too: What does assimilation mean? Why did Jews embrace Christmas? Does “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” have a deeper message?
Check out the trailer below.