Months later, producer Sheya Mendlowitz is still waiting to be reimbursed for the hundreds of thousands of dollars he claims he is owed. He and the rabbis are in negotiations over who should cover the costs.Considering that the banners assumed responsibility for damages -- this was one of the reasons preventing a revised concert from taking place -- this is outrageous.
Released a few months after the ban, this album is the singer's subtle retort to critics who have tried to undermine him by calling his music "treif" and a threat to Yiddishkeit.Here's another point about these bans that needs to be addressed publicly; the emotional toll on the families.
"Whatever you are, you can be a simple Jew," Schmeltzer explained in an interview with The Jerusalem Post.
"The world is changing, but you still want me to be the same," Schmeltzer sings in the title song. In another, he challenges people to resist social pressures and think for themselves. These and other lines on the album offer subtle critiques of the closed haredi world that has made Schmeltzer's musical career far from simple.
"I say the truth because we have to be honest with God," Schmeltzer said.
But Schmeltzer is not new to controversy. These attacks have been trying the singer and his family for years. "Sometimes people don't realize I have a whole family who are affected by it," said Schmeltzer.It's clear that the banners have a lot to answer for.
After one such ban, he remembers returning home to hear his father crying on his answering machine.
"When I was young, I felt I had done something bad and I fought with myself," said Schmeltzer, who grew up without any formal music education (his father was afraid it would interfere with his studies).
But since then, Schmeltzer has come to realize that singing is not a choice.
"Music is my life," he said. "I saw that I couldn't stop myself despite all the pressure. It doesn't matter what it takes, this is what I do."
The Forward has an article on the subject as well. Agudah's Rabbi Avi Shafran makes an appearance here as well.
“In American culture, unfortunately, role models are not just intellects and people of good deeds, but entertainers,” explained Rabbi Avi Shafran, director of public affairs for the ultra-Orthodox organization Agudath Israel of America. “From an Orthodox Jewish perspective, an entertainer is not a role model.”That's odd. I thought that, from an Orthodox perspective, everyone is a potential role model. Rabbi Shafran has come across throughout this affair as condescending and disingenuous.
This bit was interesting.
Though Schmeltzer denies that he changed his style of music since the ban was issued, his promoter, Gershy Moskowitz, admits that his new album is more “kosher” than the previous one. In total, Schmeltzer has released eight other CDs.Being familiar with Schmeltzer's ouvre, I agree with Schmeltzer, not Moskowitz. In fact, it's so clear, that I wonder how Moskowitz could make that claim seriously.
J-Post article via Life of Rubin.