Shmueli Ungar: “Tefillat Kallah” by Yaakov Shwekey. People feel like those powerful lyrics help open their hearts in prayer to Hashem.
Avrumi Berko: “Ani Maamin” from Reb Moshe Goldman is an absolutely beautiful niggun, and an all-time chuppah favorite.
Shloimy Daskal: As always, a lot of people choose Moshe Goldman’s songs at chuppahs, especially “Penei Le’elbon” and “Ani Maamin.” It’s not just the heimishe crowd who wants them — many modern people have heard or watched me sing Reb Moshe’s songs and they just love his style.
Simcha Leiner: The old chassidish material is still in very high demand. “Penei Le’elbon” is a real classic and will never go away. My song “Pischi Li” was in a few years ago then petered out, and now it’s coming back in.
Shloimy Gertner: “Kol Beramah” is an all-time favorite, as is “Penei Le’elbon” for the chassidish crowd. Recently people have been asking for “Ochilah La’Kail” by Rabbi Hillel Paley. And some people are asking for Abie Rotenberg’s older material — just recently I sang one of his Journeys niggunim for “Mi Bon Siach” at a mechutan’s request.
Menachem Herman: I would say Yaakov Shwekey’s “Bo’ee Beshalom.” And of course his “Im Eshkacheich” for breaking the glass.
Yumi Lowy: Almost every single chuppah closes with Shwekey’s “Im Eshkacheich,” so that is a favorite by far. Another very popular choice this year is “Kol Beramah” from Simcha Leiner, and his “Pischi Li” is pretty big, too.
Baruch Levine: At chuppahs people generally ask for the classics, but there are some new songs which edge their way in. My “Vezakeini” has Baruch Hashem become a classic, and although my “Birkas Habayis” song is ten years old, it’s still playing. Ohad’s “Birkas Habonim” song is still going strong in the chuppah circuit — definitely here to stay.
“Bo Le’Boro Park” by Yitzchak Fuchs
Anyone who has tasted the spiritual vitality of life in Eretz Yisrael and been compelled to leave also leaves a piece of his heart behind. How much more so for a Yerushalmi like Reb Yitzchak Fuchs.
His song “Bo Le’Boro Park” expresses an intense longing for Eretz Yisrael but is also an ode to the conundrum of our attachment to the Diaspora communities which feel like home. The depth of sentiment and pathos in the deceptively simple chords and lyrics of this song is a mirror of Reb Yitzchak’s soul.
“There is no sea there, no Kinneret, no Eilat, no Tzfat; there is no Yerushalayim,” Reb Yitzchak sings, drawing out the last word as his gravelly voice softens in yearning, “but there are brothers here waiting, waiting for Mashiach to come and call them/ Come, come to Boro Park/ There is no Chevron, no Meron, no Sharon, and there is no Yerushalayim; but there are Moshe, Chaim, Ari, Yoeli, Naftuli, Ozer and Anschi and Hillel… Come, come to Boro Park. No date palms, no blue sky, but there are brothers waiting for Mashiach… in Lakewood, Monsey, Skver, Flatbush…
Reb Yitzchak wrote the song during his own personal “exile.” “I lived in Boro Park for six years. How could I not sing a song about it?” he asks. “I came to Boro Park during a rough time in my own life, and I found so many brothers there, so much Jewish warmth. They say that galus unites Jews — how true. I was amazed when I heard so much Yiddish rolling glibly off the tongues of youngsters, not just old men. I sang about Boro Park as I viewed it — and as an Israeli filled with longing for Eretz Yisrael.
“At the beginning of the song, a listener might think I’m encouraging other Jews to leave Eretz Yisrael for America, chas v’shalom,” Fuchs continues. “But later you can hear that the call ‘Come to Boro Park’ is to Mashiach, to come redeem all those waiting. Because really Boro Park could be anywhere: London, Lakewood, or even Yerushalayim or Bnei Brak. It’s just another place where our Jewish brothers are waiting. If only Hashem would send Mashiach already…”
Small Crowds, Great Music
Whether you have 10 people or 15, 000 people at an event, and either just two artists or a full orchestra, it’s immaterial to the quality of the music, says piano virtuoso Mendy Hershkowitz. For him, musical performance is all about the energy and the chemistry between the performers.
“Yes, I’ve been at huge parties together with tens of musicians, and it’s wonderful. But small, intimate gatherings can also produce great music. I once did a kumzitz with MBD singing and myself on the piano in someone’s home in Chicago, and the energy there was so beautiful that we could have gone on forever.”
I NEVER COMPOSE WITHOUT..
ARI GOLDWAG, composer and singer:
“Two things: a Tanach so I can find a concept or a pasuk which inspires me, and some means of recording, because I can easily forget the musical concept I’ve created. I used to compose on the keyboard or guitar, but recently I’ve found that composing with no instrument lets the creativity flow even more.” (Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 683)