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Who Helped Advance These Popular Entertainers?

Riki Goldstein

Unsung deeds that boosted performers into the limelight

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

 

Sometimes it’s the unsung, uncelebrated deeds that boost a performer into the limelight. Who helped advance these popular entertainers with an unforgettable yet enduring gesture? 

 

S

heya Mendlowitz — producer

Of course, there were numerous people along the way. But I owe the most to my second-grade rebbi — Rabbi Eli Teitelbaum a”h. He was my rebbi, my mentor, and later, my friend. Reb Eli was a pioneer of so many things. Pirchei, Pirchei records, Neginah Orchestra, Dial-a-Daf, and Camp Sdei Chemed in Eretz Yisrael, which he began in 1969. Sdei Chemed was a dream of mine, but it seemed like I’d never get to go, because it was for well-to-do kids. Later I became a counselor and then cohead counselor, thanks to Reb Eli.

Most of my colleagues owe a lot to Reb Eli’s ideas, help, and inspiration. Besides for the music and camp sides of him, he started the Dial-a-Daf program. We used to go over to his house every Friday night after the seudah, and hear his dreams for Klal Yisrael.

When Avraham Fried was the child soloist on the Sdei Chemed and Pirchei albums, I connected with him through Reb Eli, and then went on to produce his first seven albums.

 

Avrum Mordche Schwartz — composer and musician

When I was a bochur in yeshivah, there was a yungerman named Reb Malkiel Freedman, who used to learn with a lot of bochurim. He saw I was musical and we used to talk music together sometimes. It was Reb Malkiel who introduced me to some of Mona Rosenblum’s albums. The depth of the music was an eye-opener to me. A little after that time, I had started singing grammen at the kabbalas panim of chasunahs, where I met a very popular one-man-band player named Burich Kaller, who shared some music and some music sheets, and who also told me to listen to Mona. I followed their advice and listened to Mona — not once, but hundreds of times.

 

Leib Yaacov Rigler — musician and arranger

We were getting ready for our upcoming aliyah. A rabbi whom we knew in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, told me that when I arrived in Jerusalem I should look up a pianist and band leader named Alan Freishtat — which, of course, I did. Alan turned out to be an amazing friend, who threw a lot of work my way, taking no commission. I was a new immigrant with zero concrete plans for parnassah, and my phone started ringing through Alan. He hired me for my first arranging job — it was for Avraham Rosenblum’s solo album.  He’s since retired from music and gone into the health field, but I’m still in music and I owe a lot to his great kindness.

 

Yoely Polatseck — Zemiros choir

What opened doors for me along this musical journey was when seasoned producer Yochi Briskman approached me in 2013 and gave me the opportunity to arrange both backup vocals and choirs — two different things — on two songs on Yaakov Shwekey’s Kolot album: “Smeichim” and the mega-popular “Et Rekod.” This was an amazing opportunity that has led me to arrange vocals on many different albums and stages since.

(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 748)

 

 

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