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Endnote: “Siman Tov U’Mazel Tov”

Riki Goldstein

Sheya Mendlowitz’s enduring wedding tune is still the favorite

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

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“Siman Tov Umazel Tov”

Sheya Mendlowitz’s enduring wedding tune is still the favorite

This celebratory niggun was first sung at the grandstand wedding of the Belzer Rebbe’s only son, Rav Aharon Mordechai, in 1993, and released on the album produced in honor of that occasion, Mazel Tov Beis Belz 2. From there, it has traveled in ever increasing circles, played at hundreds of thousands of weddings after the chassan breaks the glass, as the band makes itself heard over shouts of “mazel tov,” hugs and kisses and handshakes, and handclapping bochurim dancing backwards to lead the new couple away from the chuppah. “Siman tov u’mazel tov u’mazel tov v’siman tov, ye-hei lanu, ul’chol Yisrael.. a a a a ya ya, a ya ya, a ya ya ya, a a a a ya ya, ya ya ya yay…

Sheya Mendlowitz remembers how the tune came to him. “It was about 3 a.m. on a Motzaei Shabbos in 1993, I was up, at home in New York, and the tune just popped into my head. Soon I was dancing around the room to ‘Siman Tov Umazel Tov.’ I couldn’t share it with anyone local at that hour, so I called Mona Rosenblum in Israel with the new song. I sang it to him a few times, asked if it was any good or maybe I should just go back to sleep.

“Mona set up his answering machine to record the song, so that he could play along, and after playing it a few times, he put me on the phone with someone who happened to be sitting with him — renowned baal tefillah and baal menagen of the Belzer Rebbe’s court, Reb Yirmiyah Damen — consulting on songs for the upcoming album in honor of the huge Belzer simchah. On the spot, Yirmiyah said to me, ‘Sheya, ich miz dus hubben — I have to have it.’ ” 


Levy Falkowitz’s Perfect Demo

“Pinny Ostreicher first sent me a demo of the song ‘Nogiloh’ five years ago, three years before my album Achake Lo came out,” says chassidic singer and composer Levy Falkowitz. “His demo was so utterly perfect that I gave it to Yoeli Dykman and he did something very unusual — he had the musicians play their instruments ‘on top’ of the demo. Most of the vocals you hear on the track are actually the original vocals from the demo.”


Yonatan Razel: I always have a piano around, and a small recording device, in case something beautiful happens.

(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 674)

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