Monday, August 28, 2006

Incoming Peeps

Continuing our series, here are some more "peeps"!

Ron Benvenisiti writes:
Great stuff, you can't make this up....

Let me add...

The Keyboard Wizard

This happened to me on a couple of occasions doing one-man-band gigs. A young "bochur" comes over and stands very close to my left side, intently viewing my left hand and making disapproving faces. Then, with a thoroughly disgusted look on his face he tries to get my attention by practically yelling, "You are playing it wrong, it's just these two notes here and these two notes here, there's no black notes in this song, look..." then he vigorously stabs his hand in the direction of my keyboard and tries to play it "correctly". I gently elbow his solar plexus. I suppose those are the right chords for the "musical idiot" fingering used in conjunction with the transpose everything to C key on his "Casio". What could I say if his Momma
likes it?

The Sound Engineer

He usually appears in one of two forms. He suddenly appears at your mixer or powered speakers and starts to turn the knobs up totally screwing with the volume, eq, or whatever his inquiring fingers grab hold of. He's an expert with the powered speakers contour buttons and volume knob, which of course are situated 50 feet away from you.

Sometimes he shows up with "Srully Reverb" or "The Famous Singer" who is a friend of the family (who brings his own mike and also sometimes brings his own "Keyboard Wizard").

He checks out your whole sound system and starts to plug in the singer's mike and make adjustments. Too bad he starts to plug in the mike into the XLR on one of your keyboard channels. You correctly re-insert the mic into an available channel and he freaks out. "I know what I'm doing". He then tests the mike and can't figure out why the sound is so low. (He doesn't
adjust the gain trim to the mikes requirement). He pushes up every fader on the board and then loudly proclaims that "Your speaker's blown", despite the fact you can now hear my keyboards in Canada. I try to get him away from my mixer but the singer is now in "prima-donna" mode looking at his watch and nudging "The Sound Engineer". I offer a brand new Shure SM-58 mike and cable right out of the original boxes and insert it into the correct channel, adjust the trim and faders, add the expected reverb and still nothing. So now I'm baffled! Everything else works great. This is a brand new mike and cable, my trusty Mackie Mixer. I plug it into another channel. Nada. My keyboards are fine. I start to think this is min hashamayim on these guys because no matter what I do no mike will work for this guy. Naturally the people at the affair are getting frustrated, and it all seems to be my fault, of course. Really, at this point I am baffled. I launch into one of the singer's famous tunes that everyone's waiting for and he starts to sing, but without the mike and reverb, it's just not the same. After the chorus (or in Yeshivah language, the "high part"), there is a signature instrumental section that is pretty involved to play, but I play it and the crowd loves it, as they hum along. The "Keyboard Wizard" looks at me in astonishment and screams, "That's not the way we do it live, we don't do the intro horns and instrumental parts", you're screwing him up". I picture him with the Casio manual looking up how to play dominant chords with two fingers. So now I look like I totally sandbagged "Mr. Famous Singer" which is of course not true. After finishing and striking my rig I notice that the "Break Switch" on my mixer is engaged. This is the switch that globally turns off all the mikes during breaks or when "The Sound Engineer" adjusts your volume on those speakers 50 feet away or when "Srully Reverb" stands right in front of your speaker causing intense feedback and freezes like a deer in headlights.

"The Sound Engineer" pressed it as he stabbed his stubby fingers all over my mixer. I cleaned the mixer with antibacterial spray.
E. writes:
The guy with the mp3 player and chord to plug into the system for that new track that the chosson wants because all his friends love it but the band hasn't heard of ... yet

From the mailbag...

"Shira" writes:
I did a wedding where a local Rav married off his daughter. When the badchan called up about 8 mispalelim for a mitzva tantz, they had me play the Godfather theme, as they all lined up and kissed the rav's hand one by one.
Jay Bee writes:
Please write something about Mickey Lee Lane, a Far Rockaway/5Towns native, the brother of R Yitzchock Schreiber *& Bernie Schreiber, who is one of the unsung heros of rock n roll. He scored a regional top 10 hit in the mid 60's with The Shaggy Dog. He is is in the madrega of a Chuck Berry or Gene Pitney but never reached the fame or money that they have. When The Rabbis Sons, with Boruch Chait formed in 1967 Mickey put together their sound. Let's hear something about him. In France & Germany they go ga ga over him like they do most old American rock acts.
What about Zal?

Daniel Greenwood writes:
My name is ........(Daniel Greenwood).I have a CD distributed by Galpaz In Israel as well I am working on a CD with Scott Hill.He is a very creative and original Artist who's songs fit into the "World Fusion" genre.He has had his music played on TV ,Movies,Avertisement etc.He calls me JJ Hendrix due to his thinking highly of my playing JJ=Jewish Jimi).He produced an album for Jezz Woddroffe one of the former keyboardests for Black Sabbath.Jezz in turn produced Robert Plant of Led Zeppilin's first solo album He is Jewish,mother side only and does'nt know the Jewish Music scene.Any how I am currently Producing and Arranging an Album for Dovi Small.You can hear two of our songs at Dovi's site .We will soon IMH be selling online at Jtunes ( ) as well Sruly Meyers of Sameach Podcasts will be playing the songs.You can hear Scott Hill's music at
He is the most listened to Artist at Artistlaunch ,12,000 plays in a month.My music can be heard at Songs that mention Scott Hill on my site are songs that will be IMH on our CD.If you like if you d'ont mind doing a review on My Music,da300 my music with Dovi Small and or My music Scott Hill.All can be herad at the above addresses.You could also if you desire link to the above sites.All The Best

da300 aka JJ Hendrix aka Daniel Greenwood
Ruby Harris forwards an article he wrote:

The Inventors of Jewish Rock,
one of the first modern Klezmer bands,
Innovators at the turning point in the history of Jewish music,
The band that started it all,

The Diaspora Yeshiva Band

By Ruby Harris,
Original member on Violin, Mandolin, Guitar, Harmonica, Vocals

Jewish music history can be divided into two periods: BD and AD, which stands for Before and After the Diaspora Yeshiva Band. The music before us was so different than the music after us. So many innovations and musical arrangements used daily in the Jewish music world are direct products of the influence of this band at the turning point. Most of your favorite music today is somehow a derivative of the DYB, the band that started it all. Several of today’s hottest acts are actually either composed of members of the original DYB or their children, and of course countless students, followers, and fans.

But it wasn’t always so...

If Rock n’ Roll was born in the 50s, and the 60s saw it be fruitful and multiply, then the 70s saw an interesting phenomenon when some of these musicians began to find that old time religion, and in the Holy Land of Israel in particular some of them gathered in a very musical and spiritual place on Mt. Zion in Jerusalem, and formed a band that was called “The Diaspora Yeshiva Band”. From approximately 1976 to 1986 3 things occurred: 1) they became one of the most popular bands in Jewish music. 2) The Jewish music before this time was about to go through what can only be described as the same basic transformation that the world of popular music went through with the Beatles, and 3) The old Jewish/Yiddish music was re-discovered and became amalgamated with new worlds of music. Innovations, emulations, and revelations were suddenly overtaking the Jewish world, and the DYB can be viewed as either credited with or guilty of manifesting this transformation. Today of course, most Jewish music has some rock sounds incorporated within, but back then it was unheard of, and such a thing bordered on the taboo.

Almost parallel to the first Rock’n Roll stars and their society, the union of Rock with Jews didn’t come so smoothly, it was a rocky road at first, particularly in the years roughly from 1973-1982. Jewish music didn’t catch up with the rest of the world so fast. I remember one time we were doing a concert at the Jerusalem Theater and after the show someone comes up to us and emotionally expressed his disapproval of the Holy words being fused with rock sounds (Elvis and Ray Charles got the same reaction).
Also in that early gestation period, there was the sensation that the DYB caused at the Chassidic Song Festival. We won first place 2 years in a row, thus causing the voting committee to re-write the rules so that we don’t take over...
The great Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach was also a victim, in those years and even earlier, of the old problem of being an innovator: the public simply was not ready. But we’re in good company-Mozart, Benny Goodman, and Bob Dylan also met with resistance until the world came around. We played many concerts with Shlomo.

Klezmer? The old Hebrew-Yiddish word had not yet even begun to be re-discovered and re-used yet, and we were continuously toggling with what to call our new genre: Yiddish Jazz? Chassidic Rock? Country & Eastern Music, Rhythm & Jews, Jewgrass, who knows? We took an old Jewish wedding standard, added a rhythm section, a hot clarinet, a seething guitar solo, a devil-went-down-to-Georgia-type fiddle breakdown, and some extended Kabalistic jams and it wasn’t long before the listening public took notice that that old Jewish music wasn’t so out of date after all. I remember a phone call and a visit from David Grey, one of the members of the new-genre group “The Klezmorim”, who came to my home in Jerusalem for an interview, plus, an early wedding involved sitting-in for some tunes at the old legendary New York restaurant Lou G. Seigles with Hankus Netsky and Don Byron of the Klezmer Conservatory Band, both bands being the first of the new “klezmer” bands in those pre-natal years. At a concert in Philadelphia, our opening act was the newly formed Kapelye with Henry Sapoznik. An early meeting with Andy Statman also found him asking me all about Jewish music as well as Jewish philosophy, quite some time before he “returned” to the fold. I convinced him to check out some Breslov music, and a few years later we found ourselves on stage together at a sold-out concert at the Metropolitan Opera House. He had quite a beard by then...

While Led Zeppelin, Jethro Tull, Fairport Convention and Jefferson Airplane were taking old English & Irish nigguns (folk melodies) and suffusing them with the blues, we were doing the same thing in this post-Woodstock world with Jewish standards Dreydle dreydle, Dayenu, and Chasen Kala Mazal Tov. Plus, as with our favorite beloved Anglo/American rock heroes, we were writing and performing our own originals, one of which can almost be called the Official Anthem of the Baal Tshuva (returnee) Movement, “Malchutcha”. We had some fun, oy vey, doing a Hendrixian Hatikva, the Shma ala Doors (hey, the mezuza goes on the Doors!), a David Melech Squaredance, a liturgical Beatles medley, endless Grateful Dead-style jams on Ketzad Merakdim, or Gesher Tzar Meod per Santana, and so on. Another funny thing, at first, as antique ‘78’ records of Bill Monroe, Howlin’ Wolf and Jellyroll Morton started catching our interest among the Jolson, Cantor, and Sophie Tuckers in our grandfather’s attic, we started paying attention to the funny green-labeled Yiddish ones too, that revealed a virtually hidden and buried world of dusty stars like Naftulie Brandwine, V. Belf, Dave Tarras, Abe Schwartz and Aaron Lebedeff, now looked at as the patriarchs of Klezmer recordings.

The Torah predicted that in the days before the Moshiach, there would be a return of the exiles, a great influx of converts, and a movement of returnees to Judaism. I’m happy to say I was there at the beginning of that movement, and the DYB provided the soundtrack. We traveled around the world playing for a remarkable cross section of the people that range from the roots to the fruits of the movement: Holocaust survivors, Israeli soldiers, Yeshiva students, Hebrew school children, Chassidic dynasties, Kibbutz & Moshav celebrations, and a thirsty generation searching for the answer.
Every Saturday night we gave a now-legendary concert called “King David’s Melave Malka” post-Shabbat celebration at his actual tomb on Mt. Zion in Jerusalem, a central Biblical historic site. Once, Broadway star Pearl Baily and her husband jazz legend Louie Belson were on a pilgrimage to this site and the nearby ‘Last Supper’ room, and she just happened to be at King David’s Tomb during my wedding, and she came in and sang “Hello Dolly” to the newlywed couple. People come up to me all the time recalling those concerts and how special they were, and so many of today’s musicians tell me things like “when we first saw you guys, we decided that, hey, we could do that too!” I even recently met a mother of ten who confessed that she was about to leave Judaism altogether when at a last ditch effort she came to one of our shows and she stayed in the fold, got married, and the rest is her-story.

Before the 6 Day War, Rabbi Dr. Mordechai Goldstein started the Diaspora Yeshiva which was the first Baal Tshuva Yeshiva. The location was Mt. Zion where King David is buried (down below in ancient catacombs). When David was a young shepherd from his home town of Bethlehem just south of Jerusalem, he used to take his sheep and graze them, and where would he go? A prophet and spiritual master of the highest caliber, he naturally was attracted to the center of the universe, the Temple Mount where his son Solomon was later to build the Holy Temple. He took his Harp and composed the most famous music in history, the Psalms as he, in symbolic parallel to G-d watching over his people, shepherded his sheep daily between his home and Mt. Moriah, the Temple Mount, the place where his ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had their prophetic revelations and grazed their flocks.
His music, which is soaked into the architecture and the very earth of this location, drew people like us to David’s Holy Mt. Zion, which is the neighboring mountain to the Temple Mount. We played and sang and expressed the hope of the returning of Jerusalem, and the simcha (joy) of Torah learning. The mystical possibilities were incalculably inspiring. The music wasn’t so bad at first either, and it kept getting better, and with a few savvy people and some smart moves, we got some sound equipment and started recording, and we actually managed to not only lay down some extremely original material, but also expressed the lofty spiritual feeling of the moment.

From 1973 to 1976 can be called the early period, with many changes in personnel ranging from a few guys jamming to a big band, at which point in June of 1977 the actual “DYB” was formed and solidified, with the original 6 members being: Avraham Rosenblum on guitar, Ben Zion Solomon on fiddle and banjo, Simcha Abramson on Saxaphone and Clarinet, Ruby Harris (this writer) on Violin, Mandolin, Guitar, and Harmonica, Adam Wexler on Bass, and Gedalia Goldstein on Drums. Before and after this, many great and illustrious people came and went, such as Rabbi Moshe Shur, Chaim David, Rabbi Shimon Green, Menachem Herman, Beryl and Ted Glazer, Rabbi Yosil Rosenzweig, Yochanan Lederman, and Rabbi Tzvi Miller. We played in a 2000 year old building resembling the Cavern Club in Liverpool. Getting electricity into these Byzantine and Crusader edifices was no small endeavor. The acoustics were amazing, though.
Our history of performances is incomparable: Wartime shows for troops from Sinai to Lebanon, concerts and events for such public figures as Menachem Begin, Yitzchak Rabin, Ariel Sharon, Shimon Peres and many other VIPs and statesmen, parties and banquets with Isaac Stern, Shlomo Carlebach, Abba Eban, President Herzog, (and later President Clinton & Mayors Giulianni and Daley), an early MTV video performance and interview featured in the Bob Dylan tour with Tom Petty, and ultimately, concerts at Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center, and the Metropolitan Opera House. Somehow, Lynard Skynard’s drummer Artemis Pyle even played with us and donated his awesome drum set to the yeshiva!

The band broke up in the mid 80s and the members have all gone off in different directions, most notably: BZ Solomon does extensive recording and performances worldwide, Rabbi Shur is an executive with the Hillel Organization and also records and performs, Rabbi Green is the head of a Seminary in Jerusalem, Avraham Rosenblum keeps the Diaspora flame burning with his new band, Chaim David has become a Jewish music superstar, and I perform and record extensively in an eclectic range of styles from Jewish Rock and Klezmer to Blues, Jazz and Country, including other notable relationships, such as a series of recordings with members of the original Sun Records rhythm section, who’ve made history as players in the bands of Elvis, Johnny Cash, and Roy Orbison. Adam Wexler is a member of Reva L’Sheva, one of today’s finest Jewish rock groups, and finally, Simcha, Gedalia, Beryl, Ted, and Menachem have all advanced to the higher original goals of scholarship, spiritual mastery, and various lofty musical projects and endeavors.

But most charmingly, is the fact that many of the children of the original members of the DYB are among today’s hottest stars, as members of Soulfarm, Moshav Band, and oodles of other contemporary projects ranging from some of New York’s top wedding bands to fine art music recordings. Occasionally several of the guys get together for projects, such as 2 recent DYB reunion shows on Long Island and at the Catskills Homowack Hotel, and there are some real tasty dishes simmering in the musical kitchen. If you’re looking for the original members to perform these days, they all do so, emphasizing their newer compositions and styles, but most of the guys are still happy to give you the old tunes if you really bug ‘em. Keep listening!
Ruby Harris is an original member of the Diaspora Yeshiva Band, and since the close of that primordial period in the history of Jewish Rock, Ruby has been seen opening for Ray Charles, Marshall Tucker Band, and Little Feat, and he’s performed with Peter Yarrow, Mordechai Ben David, Buddy Miles, Avraham Fried, Pinetop Perkins, and members Jefferson Airplane, Klezmatics and Grateful Dead. He lives in West Rogers Park, Chicago and presently performs in concert, on recordings, and at someone-you-know’s wedding. His website is where, along with and, his latest CD “For Heaven’s Sake” is available, as is his CD “Almost Home”, featuring Pine Top Perkins and Sugar Blue. For recordings of any of the artists mentioned, see your local Jewish music store or look them up on line.
This article is the exclusive (copyright 2006) property of Ruby Harris

8/28/06 Link Dump

Meet the The Hotel Pianist, a blog by a pianist with a gig in an NYC hotel.

Israelity blogs about "Chez Bar Mitzvah."

Chaim Witz rocks!

Yitz is blogging on Reb Shraga Feivel - A Seething Musical Spirit. If memory serves, I read that the Rebbe referenced near the end of the post is the Kotzker.

Gavriel Fiske writes about Jewish wedding bands in Israel for the Jerusalem Post.

This article's title says it all: "Pro-Nasrallah song popular in W. Bank".

Lazer Beams writes about Avraham Abitbul's new album. We mentioned some of his earlier albums here.

Ari Goldwag has released a CD titled Flippin' In. Several readers have emailed to ask my opinion on the album in light of discussions on other blogs about it where it's been criticized.

I've highlighted Ari's past PR as an example of honesty in JM PR here, here, and here. Ari has a history of honestly representing his music and I know that being honest in his PR is important to him. It's OK not to like the music, but I'd not challenge his honesty. If he describes it as soulful, than he really feels it is. Critique the music, or the lyrics, but in this case I don't see criticizing his description of the music as soulful. You or I may not find those musicians, or that style to be soulful, but others do. "Al ta'am vareach..."

Friday, August 25, 2006

Mitzvah Tanz Blogging

Last Night's Mitzvah Tanz Medley was an all-time classic medley. The traditional "Eishes Chayil"/"Borei Olam" segueing into "Can't Fight This Feeling" by R.E.O. Speedwagon.

The only less traditional segue I can recall having played on a gig (this one was as a sideman - it was NOT my band) was going from "Brickhouse" into Shir Hama'alos. It doesn't exactly work.

For those not familiar with the Mitzvah Tanz ritual, here's a nice video clip by flimmaker Menachem Daum. It's of the late Bobover Rebbe, Grand Rabbi Shlomo Halberstaam dancing the Mitzvah Tanz.

Here's a Mitzvah Tantz Blooper Video. For those who don't know, he's dancing with his eyes shut.

It's Time For Some More Peeps in Da Hood!

A while back, we ran a series of charachter sketches of "Peeps in Da Hood" that we run into on the simcha circuit. The concept struck a chord, and readers contributed many others. The links to those posts and the peeps described therein are appended to the end of this post.

After some recent gigs, it's become clear that it's time to bring the series back, so here are a few more to get things started.

1) The Business Card Kids. The business card kids hang out in front of the band with the sole goal of snatching as many business cards as possible while they think the bandleader isn't looking. Not to be confused with the kids who ask for cards, or the "watchers", a group of chassidic kids who spend the entire gig glued to the floor directly in front of the band.

2) Just call him "Srully Reverb". "Srully Reverb" is the chassidic singer independently hired by the client to sing at their affair. He shows up with a cheapie Ibanez or Zoom reverb pedal which he much prefers over the band's effects rack. After all, the band's effects rack won't add enough noise and signal distortion to his sound. He uses tons of delay/verb and if he has any specific EQ preferences, they will be towards making his tone more annoying.

"Srully" usually does a bad Lipa or Michoel Shnitzler impersonation all night long. He'll sing all of the latest stuff, and the fact that the crowd doesn't seem to know any of it won't faze him in the slightest. A consumate pro with a good sense of propriety and politics, "Srully Reverb" won't let a simple thing like the bride's request for him to stop get in the way of his singing "Usid" or "Rabosei Mir Vellen Bentchen".

3) The Harmony Singer. He comes along with "Srully Reverb". It's often a package deal, only he works for free. As a team these guys are even better than when "Srully" is performing on his own. Their idea of a great time is to repeat a similiar vocal shtick over and over until it's coming out everyone's ears. If they like the way they've just embellished the B section of Lma'aloh, then there's absolutly no reason not to stay on the B part, repeating it the exact same way 30 or 40 times in a row.

The emailbag is now open...

Here are the previous posts and some of the peeps they introduced:

Blog in Dm: Peeps from Da Hood - The NY Simcha Scene

1) The Carlebach Purist
2) The rude Yeshiva Bachur
3) The drunk Yeshiva Bachur
4) The spaced-out bandleader
5) The pompous Rosh Yeshiva
6) The dance Nazi

Blog in Dm: Reader email re: Peeps in Da Hood

The Rosh Yeshiva's Chamberlain.

Blog in Dm: More Reader Email - Peeps In Da Hood

1) The Accountant
2) The Program Director
3) The Dave Berg Character
4) Mostly Music's Favorite Customer
5) Hora Lovers vs. Hora Haters

Blog in Dm: Yet More On Peeps In Da Hood

Blog in Dm: Still More Peeps In Da Hood

1) Volume Boy
2) Guitar Face

Blog in Dm: More Peeps!

The Air Traffic Controller:

Blog in Dm: The Peeps Keep Coming

1) The Mapquest Specialist
2) The Lulav Shaker

Blog in Dm: Email from a "Peep"

The "jump/signal the final note at the end of a set" guy.

Blog in Dm: The Peeps Keep On Coming

The Hand Shaker
The Yomim Director
The Keitzad Guy
The Inquiring Kids

Blog in Dm: The Peeps Are Out In Force!

"Yoidi and Ben Bag Bag boys"
The "professional singer who insists that the chosson 'wants me to sing'"
The "gimme free stuff kids"
The grumpy grandfather of the bride

Thursday, August 24, 2006

If I Forget This Interview...

MO Chassid and A Simple Jew send a link to an Avraham Rosenblum interview on Israel National Radio. (Scroll down for link.)

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

they Asked For What???

Rabbi Josh Yuter is blogging Weird Wedding Songs.

Niche Marketing - Hora-free Jewish Music

From this past week's Hamodia...

Coming soon, their album "Mostly Freilachs!"

Wedding Observer

Ger Tsedek posts his "Observations on Jewish engagements and weddings." Here's a taste:
I am amazed how, in the middle of the dozen-or-so staple Jewish wedding-party songs I usually hear at the beginning of the dancing, after the ḥattan and kallah come have back out, there is one particular song that every band plays that is way out of place. Can you guess which one? Makes you crave a vegemite sandwich, it does.

Haredi Triumphalism in Perth - Updated

Recently, a 19 year-old Yeshiva student, was tragically killed in a freak accident in Perth, Australia, where he was participating in the SEED program.
.... was drowned after being swept to sea in Perth, where he was on a visit teaching Torah. He was standing on rocks on the shore, well above the waves, when an unusually large wave from the heavy seas (estimated at 10 meters high) knocked him into the waters. The seas remained rough with many waves of up to six meters, which hampered rescue efforts.
The SEED program is well-known, but for those who aren't familiar with it, here's a description from the above linked article.
The SEED program in which ..... was participating is a very demanding effort. The bochurim who participate spend months preparing Torah material to give over to the various members of the community with whom they learn during the period they spend there. The material is from a wide range of sources and includes Chumash, Mishnah, Gemora, as well as halochoh, hashkofoh and general Jewish knowledge. On the program they are busy from early in the morning -- learning with people before they go to work -- until late at night. In the middle of the day, during the business lunch hour, many go to offices to give classes and to learn individually with interested people. They also spend time during the day working with children. Shabbos and weekends are also utilized to allow families to participate in kiruv-related activities.
His death is a huge loss for the entire Jewish community. By all accounts, he was a talented young man with a bright future ahead of him. May the family be comfortod "b'soch sha'ar aveili tziyon v'yerusholayim".

This week the Yated Ne'eman and Hamodia newspapers both published an article, which was also published in the Five Town Jewish Times. The article was written by Richard Altabe, the principal of Yeshiva Darchei Torah in Far Rockaway. (Interestingly, Yaated doesn't credit the author.)

The article eloquently expresses the loss we've suffered. It's a beautifully written piece, that truly pays tribute to a special soul.

However, one part of the article seemed not to fit with the tone of the rest of the essay. It's a part in which Mr. Altabe is clearly relying on others descriptions of a community, and the image of the community he represents doesn't match with the reality.

Here's the offending paragraph:
“Since the arrival of Jews in Perth in 1892, never had there been a program that had such impact on this city, which was isolated from the Torah world both physically and spiritually. To call this a kiddush Hashem would be a major understatement. Since our arrival in Perth last year, the impact has been overwhelming. Perth has grown from a midbar of Torah, to a city that’s opening its first proper yeshiva next month. Over the course of two weeks, over 40 shiurim and classes were given by the four bachurim and two yungerleit.
Is it just me, or is this extremely condescending to the Perth community? The SEED program does great work, but there is absolutely no reason for a SEED representative to denigrate a community, even in the past tense.

Reading the Altabe article, one would get the impression that there was no serious Judaism --and certainly no succesful Jewish education or kiruv-- in Perth prior to the SEED program's first visit last summer. SEED arrived to "show the way" and after only two summers of SEED the community has grown to the point of opening a "proper yeshiva". This is simply untrue and ignores the Perth community's dedication to Jewish education and the many outreach efforts others (whose kippot apparently aren't the right color) have put in over many years. I do not claim to know the extent of all of these efforts, but I am familiar with a few.

The Carmel school in Perth has a diverse student body, but strives to give over a positive Jewish education and message. I'd compare it favorably with many Jewish Day schools across the US.

In addition to the community's support of Carmel, Yeshiva University ran a program to Australia called Counterpoint Australia. The team spent much of the summer in Melbourne running Jewish awareness programming for a school there, but for many years, they also spent ten days or so in Perth, running a five day long retreat for the High School, as well as teaching in the school and within the community. The team always included a musician, and I and many other well-known Jewish musicians, participated in the program over the years. The preparation for the program could be described identically to the description of the SEED program.
The bochurim [men and women] who participate spend months preparing Torah material to give over to the various members of the community with whom they learn during the period they spend there. The material is from a wide range of sources and includes Chumash, Mishnah, Gemora, as well as halochoh, hashkofoh and general Jewish knowledge.
Many of the Counterpoint Team participants over the years have gone on to become "names" in Jewish education and kiruv.

The Perth community, and especially the Carmel School, gave enormous support to this program, and invested a lot of money in it. Flying a team of 10 from Melbourne to Perth, renting a campsite for a week, organizing and arranging the logistics, etc. required a huge commitment, and the community was very supportive.

In addition to the Counterpoint program, which ran for years, there have been Israeli shlichim who have donated years of their lives to come run Jewish studies programs in the Carmel school on shlichut. These frum Mizhrachim have had a huge impact on their students' Jewish education and their commitment and dedication, made at tremendous personal sacrifice, ought not be ignored. It's not easy to leave your country, friends, and relatives to go teach for five years in a foreign country. You also wouldn't know it from the article, but Perth students have attended post-graduate yeshivot like Gush in Israel and RIETS in America. Much of the credit should go to their families and teachers.

I believe that Orot Mitziyon, a religous Zionist program from Israel, ran programming in Perth and the community was supportive of their efforts as well.

One of the leaders of the Counterpoint team over the years, Rabbi M. Rothchild, went back to Perth for a few years to teach Torah. He also started a summer kollel that brought young men and women from the YU community out to Perth to teach and inspire.

In short, over the years, there have been many Jewish education and outreach efforts in Perth and the Perth community has demonstrated a commitment to supporting the teaching of Torah, both financially and through personal participation, that long predates SEED's involvement with the community. There is always room for more Torah, and different approaches and hashkafos may reach different people. SEED does great work, but a little bit of perspective and humility seems to be in order.

UPDATED 8/24/06

Richard Altabe writes:
Please do not rush to judgement on the comments of Duvi Safier. He was the student organizer of the Perth group from the 5 towns and he remained at the site of the tragedy for three days while authorities searched for ....'s body. I believe that Duvi wanted to emphasize the remarkable work that his friend and the group had done this year in Perth and in no way did he intend to denigrate this wonderful community. He intended to demonstrate the greatness of his friend, not to denigrate the people of Perth or the other groups that may have served the community in the past.

Duvi has been through the emotional trauma of witnessing the death of his friend, having to inform the boy's parents and working for over a week behind the scenes to make sure that his friend was given proper kavod hameis. Let's not rush to cast aspersions on anyone. We must strive to see the good in everyone.

If I erred in not properly considering the feelings of the Perth community by not editing Duvi's statement, then I apologize sincerely. Perhaps I should have been more sensitive of the potential hurt that others may feel.
It was not my intent to attack Duvi personally and I apologize if my post gives that impression. The purpose of my post is not to cast aspersions against any individual, but rather to respond to an atitude often reflected in the charedi newspapers in which the article appeared by addressing a specific case where I have personal knowledge of past history. Had this not fit in with a pattern I've seen time and again, I'd have never addressed it. I can only imagine how difficult this has been for Duvi and I wish him much hatzlocha in the future.

Updated 9/1/06

Out of sensitivity to those who may be "Googling" the niftar's name, I have edited this post to remove his name. This contretemps does not involve him.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Cease Fire Link Dump...

As they were bookmarked...

Tired of too much talk on the podcasts you dowload? Check out the Red Hot Tribute to John Cage: Silent Podcast

Ben Jacobson reviews Heedoosh.

The Chassan posts that the Homowack is closing. It was sold and has reopened as the Spring Mountain Resort.

This eBay auction ended with no takers. Someone is trying to get rid of his comped CD's.

Here are some videos of the Biala Rebbe singing Sabbath hymns.

The Rootless Cosmopolitan links to a Nextbook review. Ouch!

This Google search is too good to let pass. We're the number one hit to the query.

Here's background on the Katyusha song.

Avid has purchased Sibelius.

Here's Yo, Yenta! on American Idol's "underground" category.

Kesher Talk posts Basya Shechter's arrangement of "Eicha."

Here's DovBear:
What does it say about Orthodoxy, in 2005, that we no longer treasure nor produce men who write like angels? Just listen to the opening verse of the first poem, in its original Hebrew: Libi b'mizrach v'anochi b'sof ma'arav. Do you hear the word-music? Yet, in our day Shiny Shoe Music passes for brilliance.
Ben Jacobson writes about Neshama Carlebach performances in the Jerusalem Post:
Carlebach then finishes off the tour with no one on stage but her own band, a microphone in hand and a bun in the oven at Rehovot's Mofet Hall.

Eliyahu from Simply Tsfat was in Lebanon during the war and we've got the pic to prove it.

You know you've made it when people use your blog name to help promote their album. (It's posted here too.) Only problem is, we didn't write that review. Twas one of the other J-music blogs.

The Jewish Week writes about

Psycho Toddler asks his mom "Should I stay or should I go? " (Shouldn'ta written that. Now I have to get that dang song out of my head!)

Here's a first-hand report on the world's most expensive Bat Mitzvah written by one of the videographers.

Here's Naomi Chana on nigunim.

ASJ posts on Jewish Heavy Metal and "Good" Jewish Music.

Shira writes "Musical license,"* or the case of the misplaced comma--A different way of listening to words.

Cleaning Out Da Mailbag...

Allen writes:
wow ! Ron's got an interesting working method there. the results are not exactly of the highest artistic merit though. not garbage , but not awesome by a long shot. its nice that the texts he yield something that sounds like music but its possible to get music by organizing the NYTimes. Are we to think that the source insures artistic merit . to my ears its somewhat random, though modally consistent. I guess it would track with the texts though, but I doubt it will supplant nusach or trope. talk about music by the pound. so now Ron can use a sidur and fill the world with music copywritten by Ron. a nice parnasa angle if he can sell it. sort of alleviates the need for musical inspiration.
Dave Cirilli writes:
Just announced this week, three of New York's leading Jewish non-profit groups -- The National Foundation for Jewish Culture, JDub Records and Avoda Arts -- began accepting applications for a new artist development program called The Six Points Fellowship ( ). Initiated by funding of $1,000,000 from the UJA-Federation of New York’s Commission on Jewish Identity & Renewal – the largest grant UJA has ever awarded to an arts organization – the fellowship will provide twelve New York-based artists (in music, performing arts and visual arts) up to $45,000 per-year for living expenses and project-related support for a period of two years.

The application process runs through August 31, 2006. Please let me know if you would like more information.
Sruly at Sameach Music forwards a link to download the Voices for Israel anthem, "Chazak Amenu".

J. forwards a link to a Ha'aetz article.

Eliyahu Fink writes:
500 hits in a few hrs

what do you say?

can u blog


On 7/19/06, The Finks wrote:
> hey there
> nice blog
> post this video up and give some commentary
> thanks
Elliot forwards a link to an article 'bout Acharit Hayamim.

Anon writes:
you on vacation? My week doesnt go right without a dose of Blog in Dm,
Psachya writes:
Re "Neighborhood Bully" - I was studying in Israel when Dylan's "Infidels" album was released. I remember being amused that Radio Jordan kept playing that song. I think that the Jordanian DJ thought Dylan was actually calling Israel a neighborhood bully, as opposed to a "neighborhood bully". BTW, unquestionably the best song ever written about the Mideast situation.
Ron Benevisti writes:
Since I am a musician who makes his living composing, arranging, recording and playing music I am allowed to do so at this time although I don't play live even for non-Jews during the three weeks.

Also... Rabbi Moshe Feinstein permitted listening to classical music as background music. Along the lines of this leniency, one may listen to sad music, and religious or Hasidic type music. In addition, soothing music is permitted.

So to me, if I were driving a Merkava or flying a Cobra or Apache or an F-16 pounding Hezbollah, I would like to be listening to this...

I quickly put it together this Motzei Shabbos and will polish it up some more....

Chazak V'Amatz
Jewish Music writes:

check out this site

it has imitations of many singers some of them are very good.
J. writes:
Et lischok is a very powerful and important tool, wield it wisely. You have a responsibility to your readers, (myself included).
There is enough bad going on in the world right now, stop allowing yourself to be affected by it in a negative way.
I don't know how many readers you have and it may seem trivial to you, but quite a few of us enjoy your writing.
So snap out of it, please.
Thanks for the kind words.

Yael writes:
Dear Blogger,

I'm writing to you from Katifund in the hope that you will help us get our message out there. Regardless of how you felt about disengagement from Gaza last year, we would like to get message out there that we still care about the refugees from Gush Katif. Please help us get the message of "last year divided, this year united." Please post about the million click campaign on your blog or link to us.
We appreciate your help.
Abe Deutsch writes:
Gingis Khan Moskau. Their Moskau song also seems to have been plagiarized and used in a jewish song.
Alexander Feldman writes from Brazil:
I am a brazilian jewish, born by 1955 in Niteroi city (close to Rio de Janeiro city). When I was a teen-ager, my grandmother travelled to the USA, to see her long time no-seen brother. When she returned, brought a full bag of yiddish music LP vinyls. One of them was from Tikva Records: "Marty Levytt - Party Memories". I have it until today.

The remarkable fact is that there is NO street address, no PO Box, nothing that allow anyone to contact the label's office (there should be one, of course!). At that time, I payed no attention to this. But now, trying to find more Tikva recordings, I noticed the problem.

Did you find any new information about? If so, please let me know.
If anyone has any info, let me know and I'll pass it on.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

American Chayal reviewed

Ben Jacobson reviews "American Chayal" for the Jerusalem Post.

Monday, August 14, 2006