America’s iconic Woodstock festival was more Jewish than you’d think

Times of Israel

NEW YORK — “The New York State Thruway is closed. Isn’t that far out?!”

So says the 22-year-old Arlo Guthrie in one of the more humorous moments in the motion picture “Woodstock,” the essential document of the culture-shifting concert/event celebrating its 50th anniversary. Bad traffic is not normally a point of pride, but in this case it is understandable. 

While it wasn’t the first large scale “hippie” concert, Woodstock (the festival’s actual mouthful of a title being “Woodstock Music & Art Fair’s Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music”) was still fundamentally an underground, countercultural thing, a rebuke of uptight square society. Just a month earlier industry and government worked to put a man on the moon. Here, a bunch of longhair guitar freaks worked to put a generation in touch with themselves, man.

It’s easy to get philosophical about Woodstock, even with its ambiguous legacy. One can easily connect the dots from it to the disastrous Fyre Festival, or simply wince at the recycled use of its brand for lame-o anniversary concerts (the latest was actually canceled before it happened, probably for the best.)

But for a time, those two syllables, named for the Hudson Valley town not far from where the actual event took place, meant Utopia for idealistic, anti-war agents of change. And while the most prominent performers were artists such as Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and The Who, the event was a lot more Jewish than people realize.

Arlo Guthrie, quoted above, is a great example of Woodstock’s somewhat veiled Jewishness. He was and is the famous son of legendary Oklahoma “dustbowl balladeer” Woody Guthrie, but his mother was born Marjorie Greenblatt, daughter of Yiddish poet Aliza Greenblatt. (Here’s a weird factoid: Arlo, author of “Alice’s Restaurant,” studied for his bar mitzvah under a young Rabbi Meir Kahane.)

Read the rest and see the pics here:

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