[Photography by: Boruch Ezagui]
Review by: Yossi Zweig
Last night was one of the most enjoyable concerts I’d experienced in a long time. OHEL’s fifth annual benefit concert in Alice Tully Hall wasn’t really a concert, but more of a production. With huge stars like Lipa Schmeltzer, Abie Rotenberg and Ohad, you might expect a solid, loud concert with all the effects. Instead it was a very intimate evening with these talented individuals to inspire us in these troubling times. Alice Tully Hall is not a huge concert venue, but for the 900 plus people that were there last night it was a place where everyone could see the stage and performers like they were there just for you.
It was a genuinely original experience that combined the type of concert you expected from OHEL, with an original film and integrated performance.
The evening began with a video of Abie on leaving Toronto for NY to come to the concert. Abie then walked on stage to complete his song. Ohad was next in the video in Eretz Yisroel, singing about leaving for America. He then appeared on stage alongside Abie to finish his line. Lipa was the last to appear on video, singing about being last and hoping people understand his yiddish. The cast completed the opening melody.
We were then introduced to Bernie Kaufman from the Americare group, who started to tell us about his long journey via video. Throughout the night, that’s how it went, from a video production to live bits. The first was Nachum Segal on the radio in the film introducing the next song by Ohad called Stop. Lo and behold, Ohad appeared on stage and just blew us away with his fantastic vocals.
The film talked about learning and torah and Abie walked onto the stage with his guitar singing Lulay Soroscho along with child soloist, Dovid Dachs. It was so moving that the crowd was mesmerized. Since they were on the topic of torah, Lipa came on stage to sing Torah Shebiksav and Shelo Osani Goy and the crowd just ate it all up.
Besides the actors, The film had a cameo by Rabbi Pesach Krohn. He was his usual inspiring self and talked about going to the kosel at night and davening for others. In the day time, he explained that there is a lot of hustle and bustle at the kosel. At night however, you can really connect and beseech the one above for whatever you need.
Since we were on the topic of davening, the monitors faded and Ohad’s powerful voice carried through the theatre with Mispallelim. He sang to the audience from the second level then he descended to the stage to complete his performance.
The next cameo was a real surprise. Mayor Mike Bloomberg was giving a press release, praising the organization OHEL for all the many services that they offer.
The film went on to Israel were Bernie was checking into a hotel and a comedy bit. Bernie then met a friend who also has a child with special needs. His friend told him how OHEL turned his life around and now he is not so uptight and that his family comes first. “Bernie,” he said, “You just have to believe and try your hardest.”
On that note of believing, Abie Rotenberg came back to the stage with his guitar and sang a heart wrenching rendition of Ani Maamin. Ohad came on towards the end of the song and finished with Abie. Ohad then went into his own mega hit V’erastich Li. Finally Lipa came on and finished with the world renowned Hantelech together with Ohad and Abie.
The second half of the evening began with Nachum Segal in the film on air thanking all of the sponsors of the evening.
I guess Bernie was having trouble sleeping because Lipa got up on stage in his shluef kleider singing Chaloim Cholamti with amazing violinist Jonathan Keren. Obviously, when one is done sleeping there is only one thing to do, Wake Up! And that was Lipa’s next song.
Bernie came back on stage saying that he was lost. Abie had answered that for everything there is a time and began Lakol Zman. Bernie asked, “Abie, I know there is a time but what should I do?” Abie answered with a classic, V’heishiv Lev Avos Al Bonim. Together with child soloist Dovid Dachs, they proceeded to take the audience away to a place where everyone is happy.
In the film, Bernie finally decided to call his son, and Lipa started singing Binyan Adei Ad.. Now for Bernie to start working on his binyan he had to go home, back to America, Ohad came out singing his new Boee V’shalom, which warmed everyone’s hearts there.
The evening ended with the entire cast on stage and Abie saying that it was Reb Shlomo Carlebach’s yahrtzeit, and that he was the biggest influence of Jewish music. In his honor the entire cast sang a tribute Od Avinu Chai.
Thanks to OHEL for putting on such a great show and helping out the community. Thanks to Avram Zamist for producing a great show and getting me backstage.
Concert Producer: Avram Zamist
Music By: Shloime Dachs Orchestra & Singers
Concept & Screenplay written by: Malka Leah Josephs
Concert Directed & Production by: Bernie Dove
Executive Producer: Norman B. Gilden
Film Produced & Directed by: Chananya Kramer
Abie, Lipa, Ohad by the opening number
Abie, Lipa, Ohad
Lipa & Dovid Dachs backstage
Lipa & Violinist Jonathan Keren (Chaloim Cholamti)
Lipa in his chasuna outfit for Binyan Adei Ad
OHAD singing Mispallelim
Cast singing closing number
Shalom Jacobs, Avram Zamist (concert producer) and Ohad and Lipa at the after dinner