Thou shalt listen to these records

These days, Jewish Americans tend to direct their nostalgia toward the shtetls of Eastern Europe: Wistful memoirs of return to the Old World abound, and the mid-century era of leisure-suit Jewish Americana is nearly forgotten. Now (while there’s still time to stuff those Hanukkah stockings) And You Shall Know Us by the Trail of Our Vinyl is bringing that avocado-colored, shag-carpeted world back to life.

The book — a collection of hideously dated and hilarious Yiddish album covers from the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s — might have been an exercise in condescending irony. But Roger Bennett (who also wrote the very kitsch Bar Mitzvah Disco) genuinely cares about these LPs: When Al Tijuana and His Jewish Brass come on the stereo, he hears a story of assimilation and pride that is — if not in good taste — at least genuinely touching. After all, these are historical records.

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