Song: Ato Horeiso 

Album: “Al Hehorim” — Isaac Honig 

Composer: Pinky Weber Year: 2013

"Ben Bag Bag”, “Racheim”, “Lemaaloh,” “Tefillah Le’ani,” “Bezi Hashoh,” “Mi Kashem”…The list goes on and on, ranging from authentically chassidish to up-to-date, gentle niggunim to dance-floor hits, but don’t ask Pinky Weber to choose his favorite. “It’s like a father with his children — they’re all favorites.”

Based in Williamsburg, Weber has been one of Jewish music’s most prolific composers over the past twenty-five years. As a composer, he is wide-ranging and versatile, saying that his music is inspired both by Moshe Goldman and by Yossi Green. While his tune for “Lechte’le” (Weber’s heartrending song about a broken Holocaust survivor who would light an extra Shabbos candle for her lost son, until she sees the image of an old man who tells her not to light a candle for someone who is still alive…) is sung by Abish Brodt on his Ribono Shel Olam album for the passage of Mimkomcha in the Shabbos morning Kedushah and the niggun is a staple at the Friday night tischen in Lelov and Tosh, “Bentsch, Bentsch Noch a Yid” (from Avraham Fried’s newest Yiddish album Ah Mechaye!) is a horah song that’s become popular at more modern weddings. Even his more chassidish-style numbers have broad appeal. 

Weber has composed songs for MBD, Fried, and Shwekey, for Dachs, Williger, Yeedle, and Michoel Shnitzler, and more recently, for Beri Weber and Yoeli Greenfeld. “I work as a badchan, so it’s busy, though, and often hard to find time to compose.” Mostly, his new music is the fruit of sessions during Sefirah, or in the summer weeks when the wedding scene is quiet. 

“Singers call me for songs, and we sit together, either at my piano or in the studio,” Weber says. “I compose, and they give their input — maybe they want to change the words. Then we record, and they usually listen to it for a day or two, sleep on it, and see if they still like it. Sometimes they need to take a break before hearing it again. If they don’t like it, I keep it—I can always show it to someone else. There are a lot of famous songs, though, which I had to persuade singers to take. You can’t know if a song will make the cut, but sometimes I have a good feeling. There are also plenty of songs which I think were potential hits but never made it big in the market. They have to come onto the scene in the right time and the right place.” 

Today, one of Pinky Weber’s most beloved slow songs is the soulful “Ato Horaiso Loda’as,” which Isaac Honig sings. “People have come to love it, particularly among the yeshivish crowd,” he says. Honig first performed at the BMG Evening of Chizuk in 2013 and the Lakewood crowd loved it. 

People often associate Pinky Weber with Isaac Honig, and in fact the two go back a long way. “We learned together in the Nitra yeshivah in Mount Kisco, and we still daven together in Nitra here in Williamsburg,” he says. Back in those days, the two collaborated on the Purim shpiels which were performed for the bochurim and the Mount Kisco families. 

“Sometimes the Nitra Ruv himself came to watch,” Pinky Weber recalls. “We arranged and appeared in those plays together. Isaac was the main actor and I did some singing and played piano. There were some emotional parts, some funny parts, some drama…” After their respective marriages, Honig and Weber also took part in other chassidish plays. “There was the Yosef Shpiel, and Al Naharos Bavel. I wrote the lyrics and songs, and he sang.” 

Weber, high-demand badchan, sought-after composer, admits that his family is not particularly musical. “My great-grandfather on my father’s side was a chazzan in the Ari shul,” he says. “Nothing much closer than that.” 

Feedback: 

Someone who works in kiruv told Isaac Honig that he once set up an appointment to meet with a teen who was “off the derech”. A while after the appointed time, he found the young man waiting in the parking lot, listening to music in the car, with tears pouring down his cheeks. “I’m glued to this song,” the bochur said. It was Isaac Honig’s rendition of Pinky’s song, “Ato Horaiso Loda’as.”