Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

The Mitzvah Bus

The Mitzvah Bus

Spring 2016 Music
Ages: 3 - 10 yrs.
Producer: Coil Records
CD Price: $14.99

Mister G (Ben Gundersheimer), a leading figure in the world of children's music, delivers crafty and fun bilingual tunes, which are culturally broadening and often address the emotional lives of children. The Mitzvah Bus, his first collection of Jewish-themed original songs, is witty and very, very entertaining. Beginning with rollicking "Challah-lalala," he celebrates the plethora of tasty traditional foods, while the R&B flavored title song, explains the concept of service and being part of a caring community.

Hanukkah somehow condenses several thousand years of teaching into a very danceable song with an irresistible Ska beat; likewise, Hola Shalom (Hello friends, Peace friends) is a thoroughly infectious song about friendship and bridging cultural borders, sung in English, Spanish and Hebrew. Camp captures the summer joys of sleep-away camp, while Latkes for Breakfast uses funk, soul and rap to extol humorously the virtues of those tasty potato delicacies. In the same way, he has explained key Spanish phrases on previous albums, Bevakasha illuminates the Hebrew word for both "please" and "thank you." Food themes return (as they often do in real life) in the rock-steady Matzah on my Mind, while Shabbat Shalom uses a funky Dire Straits-like arrangement to elucidate the traditional Sabbath day of rest. Elsewhere, Purim Party Song is essentially an instructional storytelling song about the Jewish holiday of the title, while Tokhes uses Hebrew words to describe various body parts. Flood's Gonna Come is a jazzy, soulful retelling of the story of Noah and his ark; Naturaleza is a trilingual ode to nature. The album ends with the beautiful and lyrical lullaby Lilah Tov(good night).

As with his previous releases, a host of brilliant and professional musicians joins Mister G, as he plays highly rhythmic acoustic guitar, and sings in a clear and friendly voice. Full lyrics are available on his easy to navigate and kid-friendly website. Though the album is culturally and religiously themed, Gundersheimer's approach offers a wider understanding and an open sharing of ideas, concepts and traditions with children and adults. The fact that he accomplishes this with so much fun speaks volumes to the ingenuity of the very talented Mister G.

Lahri Bond   ©2016 Parents' Choice
Lahri Bond is a father, a writer, music historian and an art professor in Western Massachusetts. His published books include Spinning Tales Weaving Hope (with the Stories For World Change Network) for New Society Press and People of the Earth (coauthored with Ellen Evert Hopman) for Destiny Books.

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