Woody Guthrie, the American singer-songwriter, might not have been Jewish himself, but he was such an avid participant in Jewish culture that we may just consider him an honorary M.O.T. He married Marjorie Mazia Greenblatt in 1945, and at his mother-in-law’s insistence, taught his children (among them, producer Nora and musician Arlo) stories and songs of their Jewish heritage. Some of these have since been made famous by bands such as the Klezmatics and Wilco–including an album titled Woody Guthrie’s Happy Joyous Hanukkah.
Guthrie was also forever trying to make himself a better person.
On New Year’s Day 1943, Guthrie recorded a list of his resolutions. Some were simple: “take bath” and “shave” and “wash teeth if any.” Others were superhuman, even for him: “Write a song a day.” And then–keep in mind, this list was probably written during World War II–there is a touch of Woody’s characteristic fierceness: “Help win war–beat fascism” and “Wake up and fight.”