LFJCC Astor Judaica Library Jewish Music Record Collection

The LFJCC Astor Judaica Library Jewish Music Record Collection contains over 600 vocal and instrumental records and albums of Jewish religious and secular music.  Most are in Hebrew and Yiddish.  Some are in English and Ladino.  The records are located on four shelves in the storage room in the children’s corner of the library.  Part-time library volunteers Eileen Wingard and Ted Parker began organizing them in 2015 in the following categories by shelf.  Searchable Portable Document Files (PDFs) of records by performer, category, and shelf are available here on the LFJCC website.  They are listed and shelved alphabetically by performer.

1.1 Cantors, Rabbis & Cantorial Soloists
1.2 Blessings, Chants & Holiday Songs
1.3 Religious Vocal Duets
1.4 Religious Vocal Trios
1.5 Religious Vocal Quartets
1.6 Religious Choral Music 
1.7 Cantors in Concert
1.8 Chassidic Songs & Melodies

2.1 Israeli Vocal Solos
2.2 Israeli Vocal Duets
2.3 Israeli Vocal Trios
2.4 Israeli Vocal Quartets, Quintets, and Octets
2.5 Israeli Choral Groups
2.6 Israeli Song Festivals and Other Programs with Multiple Singers
2.7 Israeli Dance Music/ Pop Instrumentals
2.8 Ladino Songs
2.9 Songs for Children
2.10 Religious & Secular Vocal Solos
2.11 Songs in Multiple Languages

3.1 Yiddish Vocal Solos
3.2 Yiddish Vocal Duets
3.3 Yiddish Vocal Trios
3.4 Yiddish Choral Music
3.5 Jewish Theater, Movies & Radio
3.6 Jewish Wedding Music/ Klezmer
3.7 Yiddish 78s
3.8 Hebrew & Yiddish 78s

4.1 Vocal Music by Jewish Artists
4.2 Music by Jewish Composers or with Jewish Themes
4.3 Instrumentals by Jewish Artists
4.4 Jewish Humor
4.5 Narrations
4.6 Learning Hebrew & Yiddish

Access to this collection can be arranged by calling the Director of Senior and Adult Programs at (858) 362-1141.  You can make an appointment to see the collection, listen to records with headphones on the wheeled Victrola cart, and borrow records to take home.  Instructions for listening to the records on the Victrola follow.    

Many of these records were contributed by the late Dr. Harry Ruja, SDSU Professor of Philosophy and Psychology and founder of SDSU’s Judaic Studies Department and Sheldon Merel, Cantor Emeritus of Congregation Beth Israel.  

Harry Ruja was born in Paterson NJ in 1912.  He received a BA from UCLA in 1933, MAs from the University of Chicago in 1934 and SDSU in 1953, and a PhD from Princeton in 1936.  He began his teaching career at Compton College in 1939 where he taught until joining the SDSU faculty in 1947.  There he taught psychology and his philosophy specialties, which included metaphysics, philosophy of religion, social ethics, and continental rationalism.  He became a Professor of Philosopy in 1958.  He also taught for a summer at the Univesity of Minnesota and a year at Penn State.  He retired from SDSU in 1987.  His legacy there included serving as chairman of the philosophy department in the late 1950s, helping to start the Lipinsky Institue of Judaic Studies, and numerous publications in his field.  He also served as a campus advisor to Hillel from 1954 to 1964 and was a president of the San Diego chapter of the ACLU.  He died in 2002.

Sheldon Merel was invested as cantor-educator at the Hebrew Union College School of Sacred Music in 1952, and in 1998 was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Music.  Before coming to Congregation Beth Israel in San Diego, he served congregations in Oakland, Toronto, and the mid-west.  Here he also presented annual concerts with the JCC Symphony Orchestra at Beth Israel and seeral churches.  When he retired, members of Beth Israel established a cantorial scholarship fund in his name in perpetuity at the Hebrew Union College School of Sacred Music.