The Update – Final Official Post

As many of you have noticed I haven’t posted anything in almost 6 weeks. Even before that my posting has been off and on for at least 6 months. There are many reasons for this. I have written this post and held it in draft at least 10 times. I’ve felt this for a while now, going back over a year, but I’ve never felt as strongly about it as I do today.

I started blogging in 2003. Which, in online years might as well be 50 years ago. I’ve had a good run, and I loved posting my thoughts. Sadly, (or maybe not so sadly …) over the last couple of years Facebook and Twitter have really taken over the apple of the online world’s eye.

In my own personal and humble opinion I think blogging as we all once knew it, is dead.

It’s not as easy to write openly and honestly what you feel about things any more. Back in the glory days of blogging people were so excited to see fresh and honest opinions they flocked to blogs. But today there are consequences for every word written and people will hound you and take you to task for your opinions.

Today – while there are many new Jewish music websites, with news, reviews and videos, none of them are really blogs. With respect to the people involved in these sites, they are just online magazines. They never say anything too strongly critical that they will get on the bad side of music insiders whom they rely on to get their news from.

There are many reasons why I’ve stopped and even though in past versions of this post I went into much more detail, I think I’ll just leave it at that.

The blog won’t be shut down, and I’m not saying I won’t pop up from time to time either here or on twitter/facebook, but for now, the ride is over.

You can still email me your thoughts on albums and I am happy to have email conversations with any readers that are interested in my private thoughts on current Jewish musical events. I can always be reached at

Hope you all remember to enjoy the music and keep it real.

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My Picks for JMR’s Best of 2009

Here are my my picks and thoughts on this years Jewish Music Awards.

Best Album: MBD’s Kulam Ahuvim, by a nose. Although Benny’s CD is so fresh and there are so many overall better songs, MBD is just at that level. Benny is great, but MBD is still MBD. The future is wide open for Benny. Honorable mention:Kaufman’s Avodas Tzedakah has some real winners on it!

Best Song: Another close one, but I think it’s Yonatan Razel and Yaakov Shwekey’s V’hi She’amda by another nose. B’yinan Hasimcha is a mega hit, but V’hi Sheamda is another Rachaim/Anovim. It’s going to be around for such a long time we’ll get a “I’m So Sick of V’hi Sheamda” CDHonorable mention: Benny Friedman’s Letova.

Best Debut Album: Taamu – Benny Friedman. This isn’t even close, come on. Benny’s CD is probably the best debut album since Shloime Gertner, and possibly even better. I’d say Gertner and Benny are debut albums of the decade, but we’re only doing2009, so Benny gets this award without blinking an eye.

Best Arrangement: Benny Friedman’s No Lyrics, again, by a mile. I’m not even sure why Kulam Ahuvim is in here, I’d have thought Omar Rabbi Akiva would be the MBD submission in this category. Honorable mention: Shua Kessin’s Bye Bye Bye. I look forward to hearing more from both Ruli Ezrachi and Ian Freitor.

Boys Choir Album: As you see from the voting this is possibly the toughest of all the categories. Miami’s Yovo was the first Miami CD I thoroughly enjoyed in a very long time. It was a great CD. But Kol Noar was a very fresh, and fun album. Winner: Miami’s YovoHonorable mention: Sheves Chaverim!!!

Best English Song: There are no winners here. Where are the No Jew Will be Left Behind’s? Where are the Someday’s? The Forever One’s? Where is Abie Rotenberg? We desperately need another Journeys …

Best Yiddish Song: Benny Friedman’s Emes. This song just has got – it – going on. Honorable mention: Fried’s Yankel Yankel.

Best Concert DVD: I am not a fan of concert DVD’s but Avraham Fried’s Live in Israel is a masterpiece.

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Recap of Dream Team Concert 2

Here is a short form recap from one of our correspondents who was at the show.

  • Nachum Segal introducing Avraham Fried
  • Starting with Shlomo Carlebach’s Keser Yitnu Lecha
  • Shlomo’s Gam Ki Elech. Beautiful!!
  • Avraham Fried doing a beautiful old yiddish song with beautiful accompanying rom Shirah. Toirah is di beste Schoira.
  • Helfgott introduced by Nachum Segal comes on booming to Hallelu. Gorgeous and powerful.
  • Dovid Dachs starts Anovim joined by Chazzan Helfgot. Beautiful Duet. What a Show!!!
  • By the way, specail guest pianist from Yerushalayim: Suki Berry.
  • Rick Cutler on the Drums. Jim Hynes Trumpet. Steve Bill Guitar. Don’t know the others.
  • Fried and Helfgott together. Start with Btzeis Yisroel (world)
  • Show is on. Shira Choir on with the orchestra intro. Singing a fast ballad of some popular chazzanus pieces. Shehechiyanu now. Nice start.
  • Cruising through Hallel. Taking my breath away. Stunning!! (If I may borrow a word my wife likes to use).
  • Avraham Fried and Dovid Dachs singing Boruch Levine’s V’Zakeini. Heartwarming!!
  • Dream team back dueting. Gut Shabbos Medley. They are magnificent together especially in this intimate concert hall. Only 400 seats. Beautiful sound.
  • Dovid Dachs Solo Shwekey/Razel’s V’hee Sheomda!! Beautiful. Jim Hynes solo whistles the entire song. (Carlebach style) great job!!
  • Dovid Dachs (Shloime Dachs’ son)joins Chazzan Helfgott. Magnificent!!!
  • Dream Team together for a medley of songs. Bringing the house down. With Dovid Dachs now singing Shlomo’s Am Yisroel Chai. Beatiful Classy Show!!!
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Thoughts of Benny Friedman’s Taaaaaaaaamu

I don’t know if you heard, but Benny Friedman’s CD was released!!!!!!! There is no way I can get around not posting a review of this one. Already now my in-box is flooded with “well???? What do you think??” emails. I am not going to write a full review yet, but I wanted to just say some thoughts about each song.

This CD was a HUGE letdown, the songs were boring and unoriginal, the lyrics were all from overused sources. Everything about this CD screams – been there done that. I mean is this what we were waiting two years for?? They were so cheap they couldn’t even come up with a name for track 2. Really?

(waits …. takes long pause … )

Obviously I AM JOKING. (I wonder if I’m the only one who will think that was funny.) I just wanted to play a little wit you all.

OK. REAL thoughts.

This is what I would compare hearing this CD to. Imagine buying a lottery ticket, waiting 2 years to see if you win, watching the results live and then winning. Except now imagine instead of the 1 million you thought you won you actually won 100 million!

This CD is in a word, REAL. I wouldn’t suggest changing the title of the CD because I LOVE the whole Taamu thing, but if I had to suggest a second album title it would be EMES. This CD is plain and simple, it’s EMES. Or as Benny would say “art”, something he most definitely stayed true to.

This CD is very unique in that it’s got a lot of different, fun, fresh stuff but it also has very mainstream, down to earth selections as well.

Misod: A very good, solid song. Not from the most original on the CD but it’s a great opener that won’t scare away people who want the more “typical” Jewish music sound. The brass in this song is crazy good.

No Lyrics: As “mainstream” as a song like Misod is, No Lyrics is the other side of the planet. Is it yet another “Niggun” song? Yes. But it’s done a lot different than any Niggun nevo/mendel/moshe’ele/neshama type Niggun. The entire song, with it’s heavy electronic feel is just really fun, open and free flowing.

Uk’sheim: A beautiful slow song. Benny’s vocals are just incredible. I got this feeling many times in this CD but it’s important to say again. This is not just a guy coming out with a CD. This is a voice that only comes along once or twice in a generation. Believe it.

Taamu: This shouldn’t just be the title track, it should be Benny’s personal anthem. This song is everything that Benny Friedman’s CD is. It’s got spirit, it’s got groove, it’s got shtick, strong vocals, amazing choirs, it’s got Chassidish and Chabad friendly lyrics and written by Shmuelly and Bentzy Marcus (AKA 8th Day.) For those that are not in the (Chabad) know, this is sometimes how we say Hashem (Havaieh) and the portion of the song where he sings “Taamu Reu Ki Tov Havaieh!” at 2:40, this is how the Lubavitcher Rebbe spoke these words, in the melody composed by the Alter Rebbe ,1st Chabad Rebbe. (Special salute to Avremi G’s fantastic arrangement.)

Hameracheim: Stunning. Trying to describe this would be a diservice to the song, you the reader and Benny. I can’t see too many Jewish singers (aside from “Chazzanish” artists) being able to do what Benny does in this song.

Moshiach: Yes,! This song is so much fun. I love the whole vibe of this song, and I love that the name of this song is Moshiach. This might be the best CD to hit Jewish Music since the original Moshaich hit stores. (maybe …) Extra points to a really good Yitzy Spinner choir.

Kad Yasvun: Chaseedish delight. This song is very strong. It takes a while to really start up, but once it hits its stride (about the 4 minute mark) it becomes something really special. Benny’s vocals toward the last third are just shocking. I didn’t know anyone could even do what Benny does at 6:20 through 6:55, and then after that incredible vocal display, it goes into that soft Yiddish (by Meshulam Greenburger, the composer) it’s just, like I said, a delight.

Amar: This Yitzy Waldner track combined with an amazing Mona arrangement and very Leibidig beat makes you feel like you are part of the action. It’s not the strongest song on the CD, but they play with it, and the last 2 minutes of this song are simply delicious!

Yaavducha: Very possibly the best song on the CD for me.  Bentzy Marcus composed this track and 8th Day sings along with Benny. How long are we going to have to wait for a Benny Friedman/8th Day CD?? Oh, and that “freshness” your hearing so much about? This song screams of it. You will not hear a song like this on any other “Chassidic” Jewish CD.

Letova: If Yaavducha is my favorite (I said, IF) then Letova is my second favorite. This song just makes you jump out of your chair. I would go to a Benny Friedman concert for this song alone! Everything about this song shouts HOME RUN!

Batuach Ani: I read in a few places that unlike many Jewish CD’s the back end of this album is just as strong, if not stronger than the first half. Batuach is simply a sensational song. It’s passionate and reaches right into your soul. The vocals are soft, no screaming here, no screeching, just pure heartz.

Emes: One of my favorites on the album, this Yiddish track has so much flavor, personality, and Hassidic Attitude. The lyrics, written by Lipa Schmeltzer and Rabbi Manis Friedman (a collaboration I’m pretty sure I never thought anyone of us would ever see) is superb! This is an incredible song to finish the album, a song that could have been a title track, or even an opening track and it shows how strong and deep this CD is that at the last song it delivers one of its best.

I hope to discuss the songs in more detail soon, but soon for me, could be a long time for you.  I knew if I didn’t just start writing this now, I might never do it.

Bottom line? It was WELL worth the wait and I dare say we are seeing the changing of the guard here. There are many new exciting singers emerging and Benny is right there with them.

I’m not gonna say it’s the CD of the century, but it’s certainly in my top 5 of the last 20 years.

Not buying this CD would be a historic mistake.

It’s not just me, read some more thoughts here JMRThe Cool JewJewish Blogmeister

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This is pretty amazing. I doubt anyone in the rest of the Jewish Music world will do this, but Lenny Solomon of Shlock Rock has just released a brand new CD. The CD titled, “No Limits” is available as a download on But get this, it’s available for whatever you want to pay for it!! Want it for $1? Fine. Want it for $10? Great!

Here is the 31st Shlock Rock Release! SHLOCK ROCK NO LIMITS

Lenny Solomon has written 12 original English songs and over 51 minutes of music for your listening pleasure! We love these songs so much we are offering you an amazing opportunity. YOU GET TO DECIDE HOW MUCH TO PAY! We call this “PAY WHAT YOU WANT!!!”

We Have Worked Very Hard and Really Want You To Have This Album!!!

After putting in your information you will receive a link to Download the Album!

Anyone paying $15 or more will also receive the CD version of the album shipped to them when it is released on December 3rd of this year! So Enjoy the Music! Now on to the Download!

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News12 Video of Commissioner Kelly Coming to CH

Check it out here. 

Posted in Crime, Crown Heights | Leave a comment

Changes Are Coming To Crown Heights

I’m still gathering all the information, but it seems that Inspector Frank Vega is getting the boot. When I can confirm that I will update the blog.

Inspector Vega has long been considered part of the problem at the 71st Precinct in crown Heights. He has consistently failed to act to specific incidents of violent crimes. His robotic responses, excuses and repeated attempts to justify the rise of crime using skewed numbers has been frustrating members of the Crown Heights community for a long time.

Vin News and Shturem report that Commissioner Ray Kelly made a surprise visit to Crown Heights last night. He came to 770 at around 10PM. He then met with people on the street. Afterwards, he walked to a nearby shul where a Shiur by Rabbi Yossi Jacobson was being given.

Crown Heights, NY – after the spate of attacks and increased crime in crown heights last night N.Y. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly made a surprise visit to the area accompanied by heavy guard. Following his visit the amount of police patrolling Crown Heights rose dramatically.

Kelly arrived in the neighborhood at about 10 PM He didn’t say much but listened to their grievances and to stories from victims who were attacked in the past. Following a short stop over the Beis Shmuel synagogue he left the neighborhood.

Some residents so far are satisfied with the increase of patrolmen on the streets, one can see a police officer on every corner of the blocks. But others caution against being overly enthusiastic “they are just here to decorate the Commissioner’s visit and in the coming days you won’t see them here anymore.”

Rabbi Yossi Jacobson was in middle of his weekly shiur with the members of his congregation Beis Shmuel. and unexpectedly Commissioner Kelly walked in.

He spoke with Rabbi Jacobson for a little bit and then ended up discussing other issues with other members of the police department.

He promised changes, and it look like Vega’s transfer will be the first one. I for one have always been a big fan of Commissioner Kelly and I have faith that he will make good on his promises.

Posted in Crime, Crown Heights, Jewish Community, NY News | Leave a comment

Palestinians commemorate 'the catastrophe'

You have to watch this, and try to remember it’s not a BBC report, or an Al Jezeera report. It’s NBC News report. This extremely biased report uses phrases like Ethnic Cleansing and Massacre. I can only imagine what an outsider would think after seeing this. It’s simply shocking.

(HT J.H.)

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VIN News is now reporting that Yona Weinberg has been indicted on charges of molestation. The part that really upset me is that I see 2 new cases were added to the charges. That makes 4 cases of alleged abuse.

Flatbush, NY – Kings County District Attorney Charles J. Hynes today announced the indictment of Yona. W, 29, a Flatbush Bar Mitzvah tutor and licensed social worker charged with abusing four male students, one of which was a client.

The victims range in age from 12 to 14 and some were W. students, from the Khal Beth Abraham synagogue, where W. gave Bar Mitzvah lessons. Other victims include clients from W. work as a licensed social worker for the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services.

Initially only two victims reported abuse, but the investigation revealed two additional victims. An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt. If convicted, he faces up to seven years in prison.

As is always the case, there are friends and neighbors who claim his innocence. I’m sure this will reignite the debate about whether to address these things or not on this website, but I think we need to. When it comes to our children’s safety we can’t be too cautious. If no new details had come out I’d still be undecided, but the addition of 2 more victims, bringing the total to 4 is a big problem.

As soon as the story actually hits the wires I will update with those links.

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Apparently there was a letter to the editor in Mishpacha that attacked Rabbi Horowitz. I was also informed that The Yeshiva World website gleefully picked up that letter to the editor and posted it on the website. At that point all the Sonei Yisroel who comment there decided to write disgusting and vile things about Rabbi Horowitz. (You can read more about that at Harry’s here.) I believe it outraged enough people that Yeshiva World started feeling the heat and removed the entire post from it’s website.

Today, VIN News writes a great post defending and praising Rabbi Horowitz. The Yeshiva World stands to remind us that we have no problems. The only problems we have are people who think we have problems. The same goes for Mishpacha Magazine. Yet again the Mishpacha Magazine has allowed it’s publication to be the center of Sinas Chinam. There can, and sometimes are, good things about that Magazine. But it’s becoming hard to really find them. One of the few good things left in that Magazine are the articles by Rabbi Yakov Horowitz.

Sadly, the types of crazy calls people like Rabbi Horiwitz gets from tearful parents seeking advice can not be printed in a “family” magazine. It’s not just Rabbi Horowitz. I’ve heard some stories that I wouldn’t even know how to write here. If not for men like Rabbi Horowitz, then who?

I’m reminded of that famous moshel. We’ve all heard it slightly different I’m sure. The story of a town being swept away by floods. There is one man who stays in his home claiming “Hashem will save me!”, but doing nothing to ensure it. He refuses any help, he didn’t get out before the warnings, then the refuses rescue boats, then the rescue helicopter. Each attempt at rescue is followed by “No, Hashem will save me.”

Sadly, the man dies and goes to Heaven where he asks Hashem, “Why didn’t you save me?!” Hashem responds, I tried, I sent you a warning, a boat even a helicopter.

Rabbi Horowitz is our rescue helicopter. If we sit idly by, pretending nothing is wrong, or worse knowing we do have problems but ignoring them thinking Hashem will save us. Hashem is saving us, he is sending us people who will rescue us.

The Jewish Community at large has some serious problems right now. I know there is a lot of Chessed, and a lot of love, but there is also a lot of trouble. There are great and wondrous things about our community, but we must also address the issues that threaten to hurt us.

Hashem sends is the Refuah before he sends us the Machlah.

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