As the son of Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries, Yisroel Amar has grown up always on the lookout for ways to reach and inspire ever more people. All of 13, he’s seized upon the gift of an angelic voice as his preferred medium for channeling Jewish teachings and uplifting audiences in his corner of South Florida and beyond.
“Since I was eight years old, my father would give me and my brothers some pieces of the services to sing on the Sabbath, and people from the community would join in,” relates Amar, the son of Chabad of Golden Beach directors Rabbi Chay and Nechama Dina Amar. “To this day, the whole community sings these parts together. It unites our community and makes it unique.
“Even when I don’t feel like singing,” he continues, “my parents always encourage me to sing because they know the great impact it has on people.”
Amar’s father often speaks at other Jewish events around Florida and the United States, and he brings his son along with him.
“The entertainment helps a talk’s message penetrate the heart,” says Chay Amar. “My son uses his talent to help other Jews connect. Music has a wonderful unifying quality.”
The younger Amar, who won last year’s Junior Jewish Star competition and whose albums can be found online and at some Judaica stores, agrees.
“I feel my mission is to touch hearts and to make people happy and feel connected to their soul,” he explains. “What’s special about music is that it touches everyone young and old, observant and not.”
When Amar was six years old he was rushed into surgery for a serious medical condition. He emerged from the experience grateful for his newfound health and returned to his class of eagerly awaiting friends and teachers, his love for singing intensified.
Rabbi Yaakov Garfinkel, Amar’s third grade teacher at the Lubavitch Education Center in Miami directed the school’s choir when Amar returned back to school. He remembers Amar singing a piece of liturgy known asyehi ratzon in the style of a well-known cantor.
“People’s jaws dropped,” describes Garfinkel. “No one expected it, it was so pure and beautiful. He has such a golden voice. Everyone was dumbfounded, as if we all had discovered gold.”
Last year, he released an album called “Bayom Hahu,” whose title refers to the day when peace will rein throughout the world and people everywhere will be infused with knowledge of the Divine. Throughout the preparation for the new album, Amar did not give up on the rigorous regimen of study that characterizes his yeshiva education: During a week in Safed, Israel, he studied with his father and only afterward, took lessons with a voice teacher.
When in New York, Amar and his father travel to the resting place of the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, in Cambria Heights. The site serves as inspiration for the boy, “opening my heart and keeping me focused,” he says, on the goal of inspiring others.
“My parents demand the same high standards as my siblings, and told me before I started music that if my grades or efforts in studying Torah go down, everything stops,” he adds. “After I had major surgery and experienced a great miracle, it made me appreciate the gift of life. It made me realize that in the same way G‑d gives each and every one particular challenges, He also gives each one special gifts, and we must take advantage of these gifts to get closer to G‑d and fulfill our special mission in life.”
Yitzy Walder, who composed the music for Amar’s new album, says that music has the power to change people.
“Over the years I’ve witnessed how music can affect one’s life, especially in difficult moments,” he relates. “If one Jew gets more connected to G‑d thanks to this album then it was all worth the effort.”