Pop Culture

Rock ‘Challah Fame’ escapes a lawsuit

After settling a trademark infringement suit with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, a new Web site honoring Jewish rockers with a “Shul of Rock” and “Challah Fame” is open for business.

The suit was dismissed earlier this week when the founders of Jewsrock.org agreed to refrain from using the phrase “Jewish Rock and Roll Hall of Fame” in connection with their site, a lawyer for the site told Reuters Friday.

That didn’t stop sponsors of the site from establishing a “Challah Fame” -- using the Yiddish word for a braided egg bread -- to label their alphabetical listing of Hebraic-born pop stars, among them Bob Dylan, Billy Joel, Lou Reed, Carole King and David Lee Roth.

Visitors to the site also can link to various essays on Semitic rockers under the heading “Shul of Rock” (borrowing from the Yiddish word for a synagogue). One article chronicles the origins of the all-Jewish L.A. band the Knack and its 1979 hit single “My Sharona.” Another charts the rise of celebrity tailor “Nudie” Cohn, who designed suits for Elvis Presley and Hank Williams.

Readers can also take the “Jew or Not?” quiz. For the record, Bruce Springsteen is not Jewish. But according to Jewsrock.org, his drummer, Max Weinberg, is and has been ”proving that Jews do have rhythm since 1974, when he auditioned for the E Street Band.”

The Cleveland-based rock museum sued founders of site in U.S. District Court in February, claiming the name Jewish Rock and Roll Hall of Fame would infringe on the museum’s trademark and confuse the public.

The two journalists and radio company executive who started the nonprofit site disagreed, but they ultimately decided that a protracted legal dispute was not worth the money or the effort.

As co-founder Jeffrey Goldberg put it, “These guys are an enormous establishment and institution, and we’re just three Jewish guys with a computer.”

In the end, publicity surrounding the legal dispute helped bolster interest in the site, said Goldberg, a Washington-based correspondent for The New Yorker magazine. It helped in other ways, he added.

The Cleveland museum’s own lawsuit “listed all the Jews who were in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,” said Goldberg. “And thanks to their lawsuit, we discovered people we didn’t even know who were Jewish, like the Flamingos, for instance. Who knew?”

According to Jewsrock.org, the doo-wop group was founded by choir members from Chicago’s Church of God and Saints of Christ Congregation, the oldest black Jewish congregation in the United States.

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