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Reb Yosef’s Songs of Ascent

Eytan Kobre

First he was headed for professional soccer, then he was a rising secular music star. But Hashem had other plans for Yosef Karduner, today’s sweet singer of Breslov. From his enchanting “Shir Lamaalot” to scores of other heart-tugging and dance-inducing melodies on 11 albums over these past two decades, Reb Yosef’s music is an expression of his journey to get in touch with his own neshamah and stir those of his fellow Jews.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

To get in touch with the singer and songwriter Yosef Karduner, don’t bother contacting him through websites or agents or record labels — he doesn’t have any. It’s much more efficient to go looking for him in the beis medrash, which is where we found him during his recent visit to New York — sitting in shul, engrossed in his Gemara Bava Metzia. Using terms like “Jewish music star” and “singing sensation” for Reb Yosef isn’t just inaccurate, it’s downright laughable. Even the Wikipedia entry for Yosef Karduner notes his surprising “aversion to public relations and advertising… he rarely gives interviews.” One could perhaps imagine another music personality of his stature creating an entire persona as the inaccessible, reclusive “un-star.” But not Reb Yosef. With him, it’s just authentic temimus, pashtus, emes. In the music industry, for someone with his talent — he has produced 11 albums in 17 years and his enchanting “Shir Lamaalot” is a veritable national anthem in Israel — to exhibit such a complete absence of airs and artificiality is a refreshing rarity.  Having tasted the success and acclaim of secular stardom, he saw through the deception of that world and fled in disgust. He searched instead for a place that’s real, pure, true. And having found it, he’s not turning back. He spends an hour daily on his musical pursuits, and the rest of his day is devoted to his growing family, to Torah and tefillah, and to nurturing a relationship with his Creator following the unique path of Breslov. 

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