An unparalleled musical production featuring 39 Jewish music superstars made its worldwide debut Thursday at the Jewish Children’s Museum in Crown Heights. “Unity for Justice” is a unique display of solidarity for the family of incarcerated Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin, whose sentencing of 27 years in federal prison last year has led to a thunderous outcry by the Jewish community and a number of government officials. The project serves as an innovative campaign for financial support of the Rubashkin Defense Fund, drawing mounting online interest by the hour.
From knitted kippot to lange peyos, and beards of all lengths, popular artists all across the religious Jewish spectrum converged in Brooklyn over the summer to record the heart-warming song entitled “Unity” by Mordechai Ben David, which topped Jewish music charts in 1987.
Leah Rubashkin, wife of the former vice president of Agriprocessors, calls the project “a very important extension of the theme of togetherness,” a theme evident in the Jewish community of Postville, Iowa, surrounding the meat-processing plant. “We have been very involved in trying to create togetherness in our small town,” she added.
Singers Mordechai Ben David, Avraham Fried, Lipa Schmeltzer, and Yaakov Shwekey are among the artists, from Gerer Chassid to Sephardic Israeli, whose voices are recorded on the soundtrack. In addition to clips of the vocalists recording in the studio, there is also footage of Rubashkin’s wedding and of Sholom Mordechai smiling with his special needs son.
The video, Leah said, left her speechless. “I am overcome with the warmth and love shown for another Jew, whom most of these people don’t even know,” she commented.
An in-depth documentary showcasing those affected by the Rubashkin family will be released before the start of 2011 and will feature a rare peek inside the personal lives of the Jewish music stars who contributed to the “Unity for Justice” project.
The assembled crowd at the “Unity for Justice” debut in the
Jewish Children’s Museum in Crown Heights
“The Rubashkin name has always been synonymous with charity as the Rubashkins gave of themselves, both financially and otherwise, to help those in need,” recalled Yaakov Shwekey. “In fact,” he added, “Sholom Mordechai is so widely known for his acts of kindness that literally anyone who was approached to contribute to this project jumped at the chance to return the favor and do whatever he could to help the man who has helped so many.”
“Unity for Justice” was born when producer and director, Danny Finkelman, heard MBD’s song while in his car one day. “I had seen and was impressed with the ‘We Are The World’ video,” he said, referencing the viral YouTube video created to raise funds for Haitian earthquake relief. The remake of the original that was created to bring relief to Ethiopian famine victims showcased 80 of music’s greatest stars.
Sitting there in his car, Finkelman said, he thought to himself, “I wish the we had something like that – a gathering of Jewish artists for a worthy cause.”
“Rubashkin has united such a diverse community,” he continued; formerly, by creating an atmosphere in Postville where representatives of many Jewish lifestyles live and certify Kosher meat for their respective communities; and presently, with the surge of united support across religious communities worldwide. “There is no greater cause than this,” Finkelman stated.