Not Your Bubbie’s High Holiday Playlist

by Michele Amira / September 18, 2019


The iconic Mexican queer artist Frida Kahlo once said, “I think that little by little, I’ll be able to solve my problems and survive.

With the High Holidays around the corner, Frida’s quote resonates with me even more. As the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, I feel the need to ensure Jewish rituals survive on a very deep level. I believe this is why the High Holidays are so special. It’s a time to focus on forgiving and seeking atonement, but also surviving by continuing with our rituals, while creating new ones. And for me, music is a very important component of our Jewish rituals during the High Holidays.     

During Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), not only do we atone for our sins, but little by little, we solve our problems and like Frida Kahlo said, “survive.” Leading up to Yom Kippur, the Kol Nidre service is often known as a time that music can be especially healing for the New Year. Personally, I think you can have an inspiring playlist to listen to throughout the entire High Holiday season. I’ve compiled some of my favorite contemporary songs for the High Holidays that encourage reflection and healing. Many of the songs are by Jewish artists from Drake to Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boy’s, others are by amazing lyrical artists such asTupac Shakur. 

This playlist is meant to get you in the vibe of ushering in the New Year. So, L’Shanah Tovah. Here’s to a sweet new year! L’Chaim! 

NOTE: If this list inspires you to think of other songs that help you connect to the High Holidays, I encourage you to comment below with the name/artist.


“Ghetto Gospel” by Tupac Shakur

“And when it’s said and done. I bet this brother be a better one. If I upset you don’t stress. Never forget, that God isn’t finished with me yet.” 

“Root Down” by the Beastie Boys

”Bob Marley was a prophet for the freedom fight. If dancin’ prays to the Lord, then I shall feel alright. I’m feeling good to play a little music.“ 

“I Shall Be Released” by Joan Baez, written by Bob Dylan

“I see my light come shining from the west unto the east. Any day now, any day now

I shall be released.”

“Tears for ODB” by J Cole  

“Rather die before I fake it. They say life is what you make it. Lord have mercy on my soul. What I’ve done and what I’ve seen, my life is tumbled into stuff, which only you can intervene.”             

“Brand New Me” by Alicia Keys

“Don’t be mad. It’s just the brand new kind of me. Can’t be bad, I found a brand new kind of free. If you were worth a while, you’d be happy to see me smile.”                             

“God’s Plan” by Drake

“I don’t wanna die for them to miss me. Yes, I see the things that they wishin’ on me. Hope I got some brothers that outlive me. They gon’ tell the story, shit was different with me.”  

“Thunder Road” by Bruce Springsteen

”You can hide ‘neath your covers and study your pain, make crosses from your lovers, throw roses in the rain, waste your summer praying in vain for a savior to rise from these streets.”  

“Everything is Everything” by Lauryn Hill

”Now, everything is everything. What is meant to be, will be. After winter, must come spring. Change will come eventually.”  

“Sometimes it Snows in April” by Prince

“I often dream of heaven and I know that Tracy’s there. I know that he has found another friend. Maybe he’s found the answer to all the April snow. Maybe one day, I’ll see my Tracy again. Sometimes it snows in April. Sometimes I feel so bad, so bad. Sometimes I wish that life was never ending. But all good things, they say, never last.” 

“Keep Ya Head Up” by Tupac Shakur

But please don’t cry, dry your eyes, never let up. Forgive but don’t forget, girl keep your head up. And when he tells you you ain’t nuttin’ don’t believe him. And if he can’t learn to love you, you should leave him. ‘Cause sista you don’t need him.”


Full Playlist Here


micheleAbout the Author: Michele Amira is a nice Jewish girl,  DC based journalist, spoken word artist, and vegan. When not writing, she might be found Israeli dancing,  listening to hip-hop, and enjoying a l’chaim (toast) with her favorite drink – margaritas on the rocks. 







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