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Boyz II mensch: A cappella star performs ‘unkosher’ songs about Judaism

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Talk about a schtick.

Sean Altman, a musician and comedian who is responsible for one of the best-loved children’s television theme songs of the past 20 years, is coming to the Brooklyn Academy of Music on the fifth night of Hanukkah (also known as Dec. 20) to present an evening of “unkosher comedy songs.” Altman said penning the tunes has been a way to connect with his Jewish heritage without actually practicing Judaism.

“I wanted to write songs about something that interested me without having to go to synagogue,” he said.

Altman said he is no expert on Judiasm, just your typical cultural Jew. He grew up in a secular Jewish household and was bar mitzvahed, but subsequently declared himself an atheist and quickly forgot most of what he learned in Hebrew school.

“I am observant only in that I like to observe other Jews in their religion,” he said.

To date, Altman has written about 20 songs based on his marginal knowledge of Judaism. The titles include “Taller Than Jesus,” “Christian Baby Blood,” and “Blame the Jews.” His song “They Tried to Kill Us (We Survived, Let’s Eat)” is about one of the most well-known Jewish holidays.

“It is the story of Passover as told on Wikipedia,” he said.

In the 1990s, Altman, who is also a member of the comedy variety show What I Like About Jew, wrote the theme song for the show “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?” as part of the a cappella group Rockapella.

“Despite all the fine pop songs I have written since then, that is the one that helps me pay the bills,” he said.

“Jewmongous: Unkosher Comedy Songs” at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Howard Gilman Opera House [30 Lafayette Ave. between Ashland Place and St. Felix Street in Fort Greene, (718) 636–4100, www.bam.org]. Dec. 20, 9 pm. Free.

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at dfurfaro@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her at twitter.com/DanielleFurfaro.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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