by: Jacob Friedman (Mini Z)
Coming off the solemn “Three Weeks”, what most people desired was to hear their favorite music! There was no better place to be Motzei Shabbos Nachamu (to kick off the new music season) than at Kutshers where over 2,000 people got what they were looking for. People from all over (even England) gathered together for a great cause and a spectacular show. Ohr Naava headed by Rabbi Zecharia Wallerstein sponsored this great event. A very worthwhile fundraiser for an institution which attracts girls who can learn from high school and up, all the way to the Chupah as was presented in two beautiful video presentations.
Just when you thought you had an all star lineup, there was even more – actor/comedian and of course host of the Chabad Telethon, the hilarious Elon Gold emceed the event. Elon had the crowd in tears throughout the show, doing standup in between acts. The “Jewish Jerry Seinfeld” as he likes referring to himself as (think about for a minute) was ready to get the party started as he introduced the Yanky Katina Orchestra, The unique overture began which lulled the audience into a peaceful place and everyone quieted down. This very enjoyable segment then picked up the tempo and everyone started to get excited. Onto the stage came Yoni Z, Benny Friedman, and Shloime Gertner belting out Carlebach’s Nachamu Ami (very apropos). Elon then returned to the stage to introduce one of his favorite ‘rock bands’. The boys were back for a third year in a row and better than ever! The Stardust Theater Kazatzka’d as 8th Day wished Mazel Tov to Ohr Naava for the continuous shiduchim it produces and success it has had. Bentzi and Shmuely Marcus then remarked “there are some songs which make you dance and there are some songs which just make you Bounce” and the duo did just that. This song is meant for the stage and when performed live it comes to life. 8th Day then continued with Manhatten 2.0 and Avraham. Before saying goodbye, the brothers wanted to bring back an old Yiddish niggun with a slight revision. Cheery Bim brought down the house, with everyone joining in “together we’re number one”.
Next up was a performer I never got to experience in concert before. While he hasn’t released any original material yet, he has built up a reputation as a “ball of energy”. 21 year old, Yoni Z started with Maareh Kohen and then segued into Dedi’s “Kulanu Nashi BeYachad/Everybody sing together“, which brought back memories for many. Also carrying on Ohr Naava’s message, Yoni did his rendition of Boee Kallah from Ohad. He then got the crowd revved up when he broke out into Tzomo Nafshi and Gad Elbaz’s Halaila Zeh Hazman. His blend of Sfardi and Chabad blood definitely shone on stage and together bring out a certain energy which not many have in the JM world. Yoni’s first single co-composed by Yitzy Waldner is due to be released after the summer so keep your eyes open!
Again we got a big laugh from Elon Gold as he introduced a performer who spends half his time drinking T(ea) and the other half forgetting them; all the way from London, Shloime Gertner! The sweetest voice in Jewish Music was finally back in the states and felt it appropriate to launch his new tour with Yishoma, off his debut album, Nissim. He then brought the crowd up to date with his next selection, the title track off his latest hit album, Vehiskin. Leaving a smile on everybody’s face, Gertner continued with a medley which certainly was a highlight since it covered a wide spectrum of material (atypical for a Gertner show) all the from Moshe Yess’ Zaidy to Lo Lefached to Baruch Hagever through MBD’s Kochavim.
When Shloime was originally trying to break into the business he went to Yossi Green‘s home in Sea Gate for a writing session. Before getting straight to the music, Yossi asked Shloime about himself. Shloime responded he has a daughter, Malka who was born with disabilities and he connects best with her through music. Suddenly the words started to formulate and Yossi finished the song off by connecting it to the other special Malka – Shabbos Hamalka. The song touched the crowd deeply and had everyone swaying with their lit up fans (given out courtesy of Ohr Naava). It was then that time, time to Imagine (another new song composed by Yossi Green). Imagine has a powerful message and is sure to become the next hit (Get ready for the all new album – Yomim Noraim time). Gertner then broke out into Don’t Stop Believin‘. This really got the crowd singing along.
It may have been 2 am but the crowd was still dancing in the aisles as well as on their seats so what better way to keep the party going than with a Shalom Aleichem from Benny Friedman. He followed that up with Ya’alili calling it HIS big hit as his cousins, 8th Day snuck up and hugged him from behind and they rocked away. To put the cherry on the cake Benny called out Shloime and Yoni to join them for his real hit and together they spread Yesh Tikvah fever! The audience went wild as the four headliners ended the night with a bang.
A big Yasher Koach to Rabbi Zecharia Wallerstein for all he does for Klal Yisroel and to Yanky Katina for Producing the entire event.
It’s not easy going without music for three weeks on end but I must admit the build up was worth it. This was just the beginning of what’s expected to be a long and exciting season. There is so much currently in the works and is sure to amaze so Stay Tuned to Mini Z for all the latest and get ready to rock!
Photos by: Baruch Ezagui