When I was young, “Connie Francis Sings Jewish Favorites” spun on the hi-fi every Jewish holiday. I loved Connie F., especially for her song “Teddy”, a lesser-known Francis spin but one of the first songs where I noticed how important a sweeping melody could be to a record. As a kid, music was like religion to me. Whereas RELIGION always felt so serious. So the fact that there was a Pop influence infiltrating the holidays in the Willis household was of great comfort to me. That Connie Francis was Italian and so far away from being Jewish did not deter me at all. The first paragraph of the liner notes was good enough for me:


I wish that all it took these days to satisfy and amaze everyone was an impeccable Jewish accent.


I only knew a few of the songs Connie chose to sing and am not quite sure how the “Anniversary Song” got in there but back then it was rumored she was dating Bobby Darin so I was fine with whatever she wanted to sing.

Last night I was hitting Jewish high notes myself when I partook in the Rosh Hashanah feast at Street restaurant, my favorite haunt be it Jewish holiday or not. I came dressed for the occasion.


Just as Connie Francis wasn’t on the playlist at every Jewish household during the holidays, Rosh Hashana at Street wasn’t the usual latkes and macaroons fare either. Although my favorite, Gefilte Fish, wasn’t on the menu Matzoh Ball Soup was. It was seriously THE BEST Matzoh Ball Soup I have ever tasted.


We also had Whitefish Salad with Apples, Celery and Bagel Chips. Though I never liked whitefish as much as I liked Connie Francis.


The killer food of the night was the Brisket.


It was served with carrots, onion and fresh herbs and Noodle Kugel.


Sorry for the blurry photo. I was too excited to eat once I realized the kugel was topped with Sugar Frosted Flakes. The Feniger-tweaked food slid down the throat of this Chosen Person faster than freshly skimmed schmaltz.

When I went to pay for the meal I realized that some of my accessories may have been slightly inappropriate for the evening.


I cannot attest to being the world’s greatest practicing Jew but I’m always happy to honor the holidays in above manner.  And I would hope that “Connie Francis Sings Jewish Favorites” would always be on the menu.


11 Responses to “Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ the Day – “Connie Francis Sings Jewish Favorites” LP and Rosh Hashanah Dinner at Street”

  1. Jenny Lens

    Your blog entry too funny! Paying w/bacon wallet! WHO has a bacon wallet? Made me wish I still ate cooked food and meat! OMG.

    I ENJOY so much through you! Seriously, there is NO ONE whose life I enjoy reading about as much as yours! Makes up for the THIRTY years I wanted to be friends, go to your parties, and hang out.

    LOVE what you said about music being your religion and religion being so serious. JEWS CREATED THE BEST MUSIC and influenced AMERICAN MUSIC. Plus African-Americans.

    YOU are SO Jewish to be so musical. It’s part of OUR tradition. Temple, Yiddish Theatre, Broadway, Tin Pan Alley, movies, pop culture, esp blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and …..

    ART is my religion. That’s why I missed a few Seders and things. I was too busy making art. Religion also too restrictive and oppressive, which is NOT how it began. It became codified and regulated.

    Those of us who remember, discuss and celebrate the MEANING behind the rituals and rules are as religious than those who role play and are so uppity towards those of us who don’t play by their rules. Speaking for myself, now.


  2. heather

    LOVE it! And I want that necklace. *And* the bacon wallet. And the meal looks fab. A great way to celebrate.

    You seem pretty in practice to me. I have my first kiddish cup at Seder every year dedicated to Mel Brooks.

    satisfied and amazed,

  3. Deli

    Connie Francis Sings Jewish Hits on the hi-fi was also a ritual in our house! Especially on Sundays (along with the original cast recording of ‘Fiddler’ with Zero Mostel). Until I was old enough to know better, I just assumed Connie was Jewish – with THAT ‘My Yiddishe Momme’?!! Are you kidding?! She hit every guilt-ridden lyric, note and cry spot on… A Wailing Wall of Sound!
    Your Rosh Hashannah dinner looks truly DIVINE!!! Sugar Frosted Flakes on top of noodle kugel?!!! Now THAT’S spiritual! If one taste of that wouldn’t make me praise God from way deep down in my kishkes, I don’t know WHAT would! Big love and a Happy Healthy EVERYTHING Allee! P.S. I just checked, and Connie will be at the Castro in SF on 10/16… Road trip?!! Pilgrimage!!!

  4. Glo Gold

    Thanx for starting 5771 off with laughter and style.
    The soup looks too beautiful.
    Do I have to confess the sin of lust if I am lusting after a knaedlach?

  5. Howard

    Great post, Allee. I had no idea you were Jewish….Me too!! I laughed when I read where you said gefilte fish was your favorite. I like it and all but I have never met anyone who said it was their favorite (least favorite….YES.) Where I live here in Japan there is no way to eat any of these foods as the only vaguely Jewish food I can get here is a bagel and not a very good one at that. I will fast for Yom Kippur, though.

    Happy New Year!

  6. Heidi Ehrenreich

    Oh Mein Papa to me he was so wonderful.

    I loved this album and especially think of this song as it is the two year anniversary of my papa’s death.

    I want that plate with brisket and koogle and carrots et al. When I come to LA ( and I will), do you think that maybe a plate could be made up special?

    Shana Tova Mz Willis

    Sista Heidi

  7. Allee

    Deli- The Frosted Flakes indeed made the kugel a spiritual experience! Glo – How better to start off the year than with laughter and style?! Howard – Gefilte Fish rules. If only it started as a live fish you could get it in sushi form in Japan. Heidi – I guarantee a plate of brisket!

  8. Howard

    As much as the Japanese love fish, I don’t think they’d eat Gefilte Fish. I once cooked an elaborate Jewish meal for a Japanese family in LA and they proceeded to pour soy sauce all over it ;-(