Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Kuppy and Eizer Bachurim

Kuppy is back again. Heartrenching video at:


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Coming of Age

Back in the early 1970s, there was very little variety of Jewish music and books. There was Carlebach, Pirchei, and Ohr Chodosh to name a few. There was the Mitzvah Tree series and the 613 Torah Avenue series for children. Regarding Jewish reading material, there was Lehman and others, but few and far between. The Jewish Observer ZTL and Olomeinu were among the few existent periodicals.

In the 1980s and 1990s, the proliferation of Jewish music and literature exploded exponentially. “A new tape comes out every week” noted Abie Rotenberg is his classic “Yeshivishe Reid” song. One can argue whether this expansion was the cause of the Artscroll revolution, or the effect. One can also argue whether “Seforim Superstores” were the cause or the effect. I once heard someone claim that it was Artscroll who built the Flatbush Eichler’s from a one-storefront into a three-storefront behemoth.

In any event, it seems that the Jewish entertainment world has caught up with society at large. More and more Jewish book publishers join the market every year, more and more Jewish singers abound, and, as noted in a previous post, the Jewish video market seems to be emerging from infancy.

Kein Yirbu

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Hakaras Hatov

The traffic to this site has increased exponentially over the last few days. A little investigation reveals two things: put up a link to the Yankel post.

Someone left a comment on, which linked to the Yankel post.

Thank you.

Someone else left a comment saying that the video of Rabbi Miller on apples is a Chillul Hashem. If anyone can explain why, please do so in the comments.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Yankel Am Ha'aretz

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.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Play Together - Stay Together

The Chanukah edition of the Yated had a beautiful article written by Rabbi S. Binyomin Ginsberg regarding playing games with family. “The Family that Plays together – Stays Together”. Using his unscientific study, he came to the conclusion that families that spend time with each other have strong success in remaining a cohesive unit. Please sit down with your family this Chanukah and not only play Dreidle, but keep the flame burning all year long by designating one night a week as “family night” or “game night” .

How about some nanach dreidle?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Universe Testifies - Rabbi Avigdor Miller and Apples

There is another blog that professes to offer Authentic Judaism. I am not sure how much of that blog is actually Rabbi Miller speaking, as at least one commenter has mentioned that Rabbi Miller would disassociate himself from such writings. In any event, there exists on Youtube this oldie but goodie. For those who have never seen it, enjoy.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Terror In Black September

Terror In Black September

I came across the very fascinating book "Terror in Black September" by David Raab. This book was published in 2007, 37 years after the famous hijackings of airplanes to Amman, Jordan.

The author (also a captive) went to great lengths to recapture the trauma and history of the entire process of the captives who waited out the 3 week process amidst the civil war raging in Jordan.

While we all know that the story had a happy ending, what I find remarkable is the amount of "talent" on the plane. Rabbi Yitzchok Hutner, was the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin. His proteje, Rabbi Yaakov Drillman went on to a distinguished career also at Chaim Berlin and then on to become Rosh Yeshiva of Novordok.

Rabbi Yonoson David, succeeded Rabbi Hutner as Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Pachad Yitzchok in Jerusalem. His wife, Bruriah, is the founder of the very successful BJJ seminary in Jerusalem.

Also on the plane were the Harari-Raful brothers, with Chacham Yosef going on to become a Rosh Yeshiva in the Brooklyn Sefardic community, and an esteemed member of the Moetzes Council of Torah Sages.

Rabbi Meir Fund is a renowned American rabbi, Kabbalist, and spiritual leader of Congregation Shevas Achim in Brooklyn, New York.

These are just a handful of the names that I recognized from the narrative. I am sure that the other passengers went on to successful careers, only that I am not familiar with them.

It is mind-boggling to think that all of these people might not have gone on to their respective positions. I wonder if the harrying episode might have propelled them to greatness.

Update: Matzav posted this summary of the book today.
Terror in Black September summary

Friday, December 4, 2009

Mishpacha Magazine

There exists one blog Authentic Judaism on the far right spectrum that lately has been attacking Mishpacha magazine . He has not given explicit examples yet as to what he finds so objectionable, other than mentioning one columnist whom he feels gives a negative slant towards a Kollel lifestyle.

I have heard similar murmurings in the past when Mishpacha printed material that was considered negative towards Chabad. I heard the same when Mishpacha printed material that was pro Chabad.

All in all, my opinion is that there is no way to please everybody. No matter what you print, someone will find it objectionable. It is up to every parent to decide what literature to bring into their home. Mishpacha broadens the horizons of its readers. For those who prefer to remain insular, please petition the Agudah to resuscitate the Jewish Observer.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Rabbi Sherer

Some time ago this blog discussed the need for an organization such as Agudath Israel of America. Agudah and the rock In the past week I have been reading the biography of Rabbi Moshe/Morris Sherer, the leader and primary builder of the Agudah. This book is fascinating in several regards. Primarily, it enables the reader to relive the headlines of years gone by, albeit with an insider's view.

Secondly, this book is not the standard hagiography that one might expect. I would compare this offering to the Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch biography, also by ArtScroll, which leans more on the academic side, complete with index and footnotes. I plan a series of posts, as this book is packed with so much information, more than one post can handle.

All in all, this book is very inspiring, making me almost wish I had the time and resources to do similar work to make life easier for the Jewish People.
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