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Not Just for Kids Who Love Music

Riki Goldstein

“Every Yiddishe kid is essentially a part of Yingerlach”

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

I

Camp Shalva, the Bobov boys’ camp based in Parksville, NY, was put on the Jewish music map over three decades ago through the enduring compositions of Reb Moshe Goldman. Now it’s in the news again, as Shalva’s head counselor, Reb Shea Rosen of Flatbush — talented instrumentalist and natural storyteller — has put together a new boys’ choir extending far beyond his summer job and Chol Hamoed programs: He wants the boys to have a completely kosher musical outlet all year round.

When Rabbi Rosen bumped into producer Naftali Schnitzler last Purim, things began to move, and fast. “I, like Reb Shea, loved the idea that every yingele who loves music should have the opportunity to sing in a choir,” says Schnitzler, who agreed to produce a professional album for Rosen’s choir, the newly formed “Yingerlich.”

Asked to write songs for a choir of young, earnest voices, composer Hershy Weinberger sat down at the piano. “In just a few hours, he managed to create six songs,” Schnitzler recalls. This marathon was rewarded when four of those new melodies made in onto the YINGERLICH album — including the opening hit “Davenen” (“Mi anochi she’ezkeh — Who am I that I should merit to daven in front of Hakadosh Baruch Hu?”) and “Veyitein Lecha.” “Davenen” debuted at camp kumzitzes this past summer; in fact, the last vocals on the track were recorded live at a camp performance.

Naftali Schnitzler had his heart set on the children singing a new and poignant niggun for “Achas Shoalti,” but when he approached Reb Pinky Weber with the idea, the composer was dubious.

“Who needs another ‘Achas Shoalti’?” he said. “There are already so many of them out there.”

“Yes,” said Schnitzler, “but none by Pinky Weber.”

The resulting song is one of the album’s highlights, and the choir has already received requests to sing the tune at chuppahs, to the words of “Mi Adir.”

While the song list was under discussion, Yossi Kalisch —younger brother of Reb Eliezer Kalisch, the Belz composer from Bnei Brak — sent Schnitzler a song which was a good fit for the album’s heimish feel. Another contributor is composer Reb Meshulem Greenberger, a Dushinsky chassid from Jerusalem. Fans of Greenberger’s simple and direct musical style will certainly enjoy “Meloich” with its catchy and hope-inducing Yiddish lyrics (“zol shoin zein…bimheira beyameinu omein”). “Actually, Arele Samet wanted the song,” Schnitzler confides about the track he chose as the album’s finale.

Two weeks after the album was on the shelves, it had almost disappeared. “I got a call from the distributor—there are practically no copies left in Boro Park, Williamsburg, Monroe, and Monsey. We had to produce more CDs.”

But Schnitzler really isn’t surprised by the run on the album. “In my view,” he says, “every Yiddishe kid is essentially a part of Yingerlach.”

(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 739)

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