“There aren’t a lot of Jewish cowboys,” says 52-year-old Scott Gerber. In the 1940s, his uncle Sol moved from Chicago to California, and worked along with other family members as a chicken rancher. They were progressives and workers’-rights activists…and they were cowboys.
Today, Scott keeps up the tradition. He sings Yiddish songs and plays country guitar. And he tends a herd of cattle of his own in Petaluma, California.
“I go through a bit of culture shock playing Yiddish songs…and then playing country & western,” he confesses. The documentary Song of a Jewish Cowboy (2002) profiles Gerber’s unlikely mix of progressive politics, country values, and Jewish soul.
It’s not an easy life, and Gerber hasn’t yet been able to find a Jewish girl who wants to share it. But between his cows and his singing (his country-accented version of “Tumbalalaika” is incredible), Scott Gerber is trying to make it work.