Throughout the first half of the 20th century, one of the more reliable (and entertaining) ways to track the impact of Jewish culture on African-American artists was to listen for bits of Yiddish making its way into black blues, jazz, and pop. Black argots like hep and jive were becoming central to black style and soon Yiddish — a fellow linguistic outsider — started mixing in as well.

“Heebie Jeebies: The World of Yiddish Jive” in the “Black Sabbath: The Secret Musical History of Black-Jewish Relations” exhibit at the Contemporary Jewish Museum (San Francisco)

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