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Tu B’Av and No Love

A Jewish Valentine? Bring on the heartbreak

Tablet Magazine
August 05, 2009
Joan Baez and Bob Dylan at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom(U.S. Information Agency, via Wikimedia Commons)
Joan Baez and Bob Dylan at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom(U.S. Information Agency, via Wikimedia Commons)

Today is Tu B’Av, sometimes referred to as the Jewish Valentine’s Day. It marks the beginning of the grape harvest during the Second Temple period, when Canaan’s amorous Jews celebrated Tu B’Av by letting their unmarried daughters dress in white and dance in the fields by the moonlight. “What they were saying,” the Mishna tells us, was “young man, consider who you choose” to be your wife. After the destruction of the Temple, however, and during the exile that soon followed, the holiday fell into oblivion, resurrected only with the establishment of the State of Israel, where it still enjoys as much popularity as its goyish, February counterpart. In the Diaspora, this holiday has little relevance. Who, after all, can seriously celebrate love in August, when the heat and the humidity make even the shortest embrace a sticky menace?

To commemorate this ancient ritual of love, then, we at Tablet Magazine—not the most sentimental bunch—are celebrating with a tribute to love’s darker side. Here are the top ten greatest break-up songs ever written by Jews. Get out that photograph of your ex, let self-pity flow, and listen to what the heartbroken have to say…

50 Ways to Leave Your Lover: How do I leave thee? Let Paul Simon count the ways.

Famous Blue Raincoat: “You treated my woman to a flake of your life,” Leonard Cohen laments, “and when she came back she was nobody’s wife.”

Idiot Wind: Bob Dylan, the poet laureate of loneliness, was never more cruel than this.

“You’re an idiot babe,” he croons, “It’s a wonder that you still know how to breathe.”

Somebody Kill Me: Adam Sandler is the most unromantic wedding singer out there.

Baby Bitch: Gene Ween, otherwise known as Aaron Freeman, has some choice words (cover up the kids’ ears!) for a former lover.

Love on the Rocks: Pour Neil Diamond a drink, and he’ll tell you some lies: love on the rocks ain’t no surprise.

Baby Get Lost: Leonard Feather wrote this hit for Billie Holiday (though this version is performed by Franco Tenelli). Rage was never quite so elegant.

(Marie’s the Name) His Latest Flame: It was Elvis’s voice that made this treacherous lover famous, but we have Doc Pomus, born Jerome Felder, to thank for the green-eyed, monstrous Marie.

Through With You: When it comes to breakup song titles, Maroon 5’s Adam Levine prefers the straightforward approach.

Every Man Has a Molly: Say Anything’s Max Bemis wrote candid songs about his personal life, which is why Molly dumped him, which is why he’s asking fans to purchase the band’s merchandise. Isn’t this, really, the story of every relationship?

From the editors at Tablet Magazine