Binyamin Moshe, 20, was declared the winner of ‘A Jewish Star’ singing competition Sunday, at the finals which were held at the Soul II Soul 5770 concert in Brooklyn’s School of Music.
Each of the finalists stepped out on stage to roaring applause from the audience and delivered strong performances. But ultimately, the Israeli born Moshe, who learns in the 770 Yeshiva in Crown Heights, impressed judges Avraham Fried, Michael Sojcher and Mendy Pellin and swayed an exuberant crowd of 1,300.
Equipped with a guitar and sparkling personality, Moshe performed his own composition “Romemu” which he recorded for his audition in the contest.
“I called my parents immediately,” Moshe told COLlive.com after receiving the first A Jewish Star trophy. “They were awake and ran to wake up my 6 brothers with the news.”
Comedian Pellin noted: “You got what it takes, although at first I thought that guitar was an Uzi gun.”
Sojcher of Neshoma Orchestra explained: “People enjoy innovation, and his song had a 2010 sound to it. There are a lot of good singers, but then a ‘chidush’ comes along.”
Moshe’s first competitor, Avraham Ohayon, 24, a newlywed from Strasbourg, France, sang the hit song ‘Ale Katan’ in what Sojcher called a “fearless performance.”
The second finalist, Shuky Sadon, 20, from Paris and now Brooklyn, dedicated a heartfelt ‘Machnisei Rachamim’ to his brother Mendel OBM. Fried praised his “crisp voice.”
Jewish singer Benny Friedman was the surprise emcee for the finals, who bantered with contestants and judges alike, keeping the mood upbeat.
As part of his prize, Moshe sang Yossi Green‘s Tanya with Fried. He also received a $500 cash prize sponsored by Duddy Farkash of the Farkash Financial Group.
Soul II Soul’s 8th annual concert featured Fried as the lead singer accompanied by the Chassidishe Kapelye conducted by chazzan Berel Zucker. Fried gave a rousing performance of familiar and beloved niggunim, encouraging the crowd to join in and sing along with him.
Faithful to the theme Rak Chabad, only Lubavitch niggunim were sung and Musical Director Avremi G and his musicians were all in fedora hats and untucked white shirts (a Lubavitch staple).
Throughout the concert, video footage by Yankee Teitelbaum of life in the Crown Heights shtetel were projected. Gan Israel images were shown while Fried sang a medley of popular Lubavitch camp songs.
The concert, benefiting the education of children with special needs, was produced by Shmuel and Tzirl Goldman and Naftali Olivestone of NO/IT Productions.
The Goldmans, directors of Chasdei Soul II Soul, surprised Yossi and Mica Soffer, owners of COLlive and producers of ‘A Jewish Star,’ with a gift, thanking them for their efforts on behalf of Soul II Soul.
“I give the concert 5 stars,” said Rabbi Ari Raskin, Director of Chabad of Brooklyn Heights. “It was truly phenomenal.”
Thousands of out-of-towners kept track of the concert via live tweets by COLlive’s Editor Yehuda Ceitlin.
Benny Friedman announcing the winner
Avraham Fried & Binyamin Moshe