In discreet cabarets in Warsaw, Vilnius, and other cities, Jewish entertainers crooned the quintessential ode to optimism not only to entertain but as an act of defiance against the Nazis and the grim reality they had imposed. It was, some scholars say, part of a heroic but under-discussed Jewish resistance.
In the early 1990s, at the request of Hillel, the national Jewish college campus organization, Summit began developing an educational guide for universities to use to create performances exploring music played in the Jewish ghettos and concentration camps. Summit, a David Grisman fan who plays guitar, banjo, and mandolin, enlisted Hankus Netsky, a music professor at the New England Conservatory of Music and director of the Klezmer Conservatory Band, and Philip Bohlman, a Jewish music expert at the University of Chicago.
Summit acknowledges that the Nazis used Jewish entertainers for their own purposes, and says that, too, should be further studied. Still, he argues, the Nazis' exploitation of Jewish musicians doesn't negate the fact that Jewish musicians also created music beyond Hitler's control, and that helped people survive the war.