Reprinted with permission from Jewish Lifestyles Magazine
By: Sandy Eller
Brooklyn-based Mendy Worch has been singing for almost all his life, at local simchos, kumzitzes, and chasunos. Now aged twenty-eight and the father of three little boys, he is working on his very first album that will hopefully bring his voice to a wider audience. Jewish Lifestyle went behind the scenes to check out another rising star who may just well become one of the musical “greats” of the next generation.
When did you start singing?
I always sang! I have been singing at least since I was five, and even at that young age relatives would tell my father that they saw talent, and that I would benefit from professional voice training. For me, singing is much more than just a hobby, something that I do. It’s my passion and an integral part of who I am.
Why did you decide to put out an album?
Firstly, I want to stress that I have no interest in chasing fame. What I aim to do is give others the tool of music, and enable them to inspire the warmth we all thirst for. After all, throughout my life my music has helped me enhance feelings of happiness, as well as hope, teshuvah, and a strong connection to Yiddishkeit.
People have been telling me for years that I should put out an album, and in the end I decided to go ahead. I don’t want to wake up one day, decades later, and have regrets that I never did it. On the other hand, it has to be done right. I’ve been approached by big names in the Jewish music industry, looking to join with me on this journey, but I have always felt that when I do finally make that move, I want it to be something really special, from the heart.
Could you tell us something about the album?
We are still in the beginning stages of the process. I am proud to be working with Ruli Ezrahi, who is incredible. We have several amazing songs, and I want the end result to be something warm and exciting. I’m not looking for flashy or secular-sounding, but on the other hand, I still want it to sound contemporary. A good producer like Ruli can successfully strike that balance. My goal is to bring out something that I won’t be embarrassed to sing when Moshiach comes, and so I ask myself, “Is this a song I can be proud to sing in front of a million Jews in the Beis Hamikdash?
Which songs have been an inspiration to you?
There are so many meaningful songs. I believe the main ingredient of a hit song is the message it conveys. Songs like “Anovim,” “Someday,” “Tanya,” “Im Eshkacheich,” “Machnisei Rachamim,” just to name a few, have become legendary because their words are so powerful. There is no need to force emotion when you have a strong message, and I am very opposed to the idea of calculating to create a response in the listener. When I sing, I don’t think about myself, or what I should be doing to create maximum effect. I simply close my eyes and think about the moment and those listening, be it at a chasunah, a shalom zachar, a kumzitz, or a simple Shabbos table, and I try to find the right song with the appropriate meaning for the occasion. If I find myself inspired then I know I’m singing the right song the right way, and that’s not something that can be faked.
Do you come from a musical family?
I do indeed come from a family of singers and we love to sit at the Shabbos table and sing. My father has often told me that the proudest moment in his life was when I was very young, probably not older than six, and I sang “Avinu Av Harachaman” at my Zaidy’s Shabbos table in Manchester. My Zaidy told my father that in his entire life he had never heard even an adult infuse a song with so much hergesh. He looked at my father at that moment and said to him, “I have everything now. I don’t need anything else.”
That’s beautiful. So is your father your biggest fan?
That honor actually goes to my grandmother from Toronto. Whenever she’s there when I’m singing, she’ll pull up a chair, sit herself down by the bandstand, and clap her hands. She smiles at people and says, “My Mendele – isn’t he great?!”
Do you daven at the amud on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur?
No, although I have had many financially tempting offers over the last five years. I turn these offers down because I worry that I would be focusing on the music and making the davening sound good, instead of utilizing the opportunity to daven for myself and my family and others. I am not ready to represent the tzibbur on the Yemei Din.
Do you see the music “gene” emerging in your children?
When my five-year-old son sings, I can see his talent, and I’m so happy that he has this gift. I’m sure he will use it for the good throughout his life, and inspire others to do the same. I can’t think of anything more heartwarming than singing with my son and realizing that the music has come full circle.
Any final thoughts for our readers on what music means to you?
My father often says that Chazal bring down that the shaar of music, of shirah, is right next to the shaar of teshuvah and therefore teshuvah can be accessed through music. Music shouldn’t be a commercial product; it is an expression of the neshamah and our identity as Yidden. It is a tool we use to convey our feelings and help us get through the little bit of galus that we have left before we can all dance and sing the sweet song of redemption, b’ezras Hashem, may it be soon!