Back in 1985, the first Journeys album was released, marking a new era in Jewish music. Following in the successes of the Megama Duo, Abie Rotenberg embarked on a relatively new path in Kiruv, composing original compositions using English lyrics which convey the warmth and beauty of Jewish life.
Five years later, Journeys released their second album which featured the classic hit “Yankel”. As we close out 2009, Middos Productions has produced an hour long film built on this song, which will be the focus of this post.
Yankel Am Ha’aretz, written and directed by the talented Yoel Waxler, is a powerful story of hope. This is a movie that can be appreciated at all age levels.
While this low budget DVD does not rival professionally produced full length films, It is a huge leap in that direction. It opens up with a panoramic view of NYC’s skyline, bathed in lights. The haunting melody of “Yankel” plays in the background, as the sweet voice of Country Yossi adds an extra dimension to an already fabulous video.
The photography is superb. In one scene we are able to catch the sun’s rays as they pass through the windows on one side of the plane and out the other. Another scene shows the Kosel filling up and emptying out in speed-motion. All in all, the photography in Eretz Yisroel is amazing, it makes one feel as if he is really there, attending Yeshiva with Yankel.
The melodies are all beautiful and interspersed throughout the film at the most opportune moments. Abie’s Luley Soiroscha and the classic Kad Yasvin Yisroel as well as several guitar scenes add much to the viewing pleasure.
As for critique:
Several times the real name of Hashem is spoken in shul.
The boys who bother Yankel are not reprimanded for their behavior.
Yankel’s beard looks very fake.
The viewer is not explained as to how Yankel overcomes his pyrophobia.
Even though this story takes place in Brooklyn “about a dozen years ago", they miraculously have the Hebrew ArtScroll Chumash which was only published first in 2004.
Bottom Line: Run to your local store and buy it. It is something that the entire family can enjoy. You will want to watch it more than once.