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April 25, 2014 / 25 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Beis Medrash’

Shuttling Between Yeshiva And Recording Studio

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

   Zevi Kaufman is not your typical singer/songwriter. While most singers find themselves in and out of the recording studio in the final weeks before the release of their album, Kaufman finds himself in and out of the Beis Medrash at Yerushalayim’s Yeshivas Aderes Hatorah, where the 20-year-old Flatbush native is currently learning.


   Kaufman’s style is also anything but typical. His debut album, “Music Language of My Soul,” is one of those rare efforts that manages to push the envelope just enough, without ever crossing the boundaries of good taste. His unique compositions have a universal appeal and are edgy enough to appeal to those who don’t necessarily embrace mainstream Jewish music without ever sacrificing even an ounce of Yiddishe ta’am, resulting in songs that have a universal appeal. Half the songs on this album are in English with lyrics that are hopeful and inspiring, each one bearing a message of its own. Every song on the album is accompanied by a d’var Torah, each one dedicated to someone who clearly had a tremendous impact on Kaufman’s life.


   While Kaufman, a Miami Boys Choir alumnus who also sang with Avrumi Flamm, has been singing all his life, he began composing songs about the time of his bar mitzvah. Over the past seven years his songs have offered both solace and encouragement to so many people that Kaufman decided it was time to put out an album and share his positive messages with the world. Kaufman credits his rosh yeshiva and rebbeim from Yeshiva of Far Rockaway where he learned for five years for inspiring him with ideas of chizuk and mussar from the Navardik school of thought.


   “Each melody has a neshama,” said Kaufman in an overseas phone call between sedarim at his yeshiva. “Each song on this album is packaged differently, to appeal to all different types of people. I wrote these songs as expressions of chinuch and mussar, to be mechazek myself, but my real goal is to be mechazek as many people as possible.”


   While there are some big names involved in this project, including Yisroel Lamm, Ruli Ezrachi, Aryeh Kunstler, Ian Freitor and Tony Coluccio, numerous members of Kaufman’s very talented family were heavily involved in this album as well. Cousin Shloime Kaufman plays a major part in this project, serving not only as producer but also doing choir work, vocals, arranging and mixing. Both Kaufman’s younger brother Yechiel and his father Meir contribute vocals to the album, with the senior Kaufman composing the only two songs on the album that aren’t composed by Zevi. Both of Kaufman’s parents are featured as executive producers on the album as well.


   Shloime Kaufman confesses to being inspired by his younger cousin.


   “You don’t end up having the talent of melody and lyrics for nothing. Your job in life is to use your talents and Zevi wants to help people by strengthening their emunah and bitachon. This album is all about kiruv, bringing every person closer to Hashem, with songs that people can relate to, produced in a way that will appeal to people all across the spectrum. This is an album with meaning and if it lights a spark and inspires even a single person, it will have been a success.”


   Meir Kaufman, a Brooklyn dentist, is himself a soloist in his own right, having sung not only with both Pirchei and Sdei Chemed choirs but at the wedding of R’ Eli Teitelbaum, z”l, as well. He is clearly very proud of his talented progeny. “Zevi not only composed almost all of these songs, he wrote the words to many of them as well. Lyrics have the power to touch people’s souls. They even have the power to save people when they are going through a difficult time. Each one of these songs is about understanding life and focusing on what is important in life. Have an appreciation for time. Spend it wisely. Cherish what you have and thank G-d for everything that you have.”


   The album which is distributed by Aderet Music, is available in both CD and download format on mostlymusic.com.



   Sandy Eller is a freelance writer who has written for various Jewish newspapers, magazines and websites in addition to having written song lyrics and scripts for several full scale productions. She can be contacted at sandyeller1@gmail.com.

Kristallnacht In Poland

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

    Recently the world commemorated the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the event that most consider the start of the Shoah. On that date Germany went on a rampage, arresting, beating and killing many Jews, but is mostly known for the destruction of businesses, homes and synagogues. In some places there was so much broken glass on the ground that it glittered, as if from crystal, giving the night its infamous name.

    While Kristallnacht took place in Germany, because of shifting borders at the end of World War II, it affected a large section of today’s Poland.

    The largest city in the then-German area known as Lower Silesia was Wroclaw, which is now part of southwestern Poland. Of all the many synagogues and other Jewish institutions, which were in the city, only the White Storch Synagogue was spared that horrific “Night of Broken Glass.” Gone is the Sklowar Synagogue, built in 1790, as well as the Great Synagogue, built in 1872, located on Lakowa St.



White Storch Synagogue, the only remaining synagogue in Wroclaw


     The community has a long history. It had been originally part of the Polish Empire but became part of Austria in 1526, then Germany in 1742. For centuries the city had been known by it’s German name of Breslau but over the years has also been known by many other names, Vrestlav, Presslau, Vrastislavi and Vraclav.

    After WW II, the city was ceded to Poland and renamed Wroclaw. The German population was sent to Germany and many Poles that had been living in the area of Galicia, which was given to Ukraine, came to live in Wroclaw. Along with the Polish population came a large number of Jews. The community established schools and a Yiddish theater, but many left or were expelled during the 50s and especially in 1968. Today Wroclaw has the second largest Jewish community, after Warsaw, numbering some 1,000 families.

     Like most of Poland there is not much evidence left to show the glory of this ancient Jewish community. The two most imposing reminders are the White Storch Synagogue and the Old and New Jewish Cemetery. The Synagogue was built in 1829 as a Reform synagogue and later became Orthodox. The imposing building remained in use until 1974, except during the war years, when it was used by the Germans to store the property stolen from the Jews. The courtyard in front of the White Storch Synagogue was the collection point for the Jews before their expulsion to the death camps.

    In 1974 the Communist government took over the building and it was used as a library and storage house. The building withstood the abuse, even surviving two major fires. In 1996 the synagogue was returned to the Jewish community and restoration/renovation process began the same year.

    Today the community is experiencing great rebirth due, in major part, to the efforts of Rabbi Rappaport whose arrival two years ago has brought new vigor to the religious life in Wroclaw. The old synagogue building is in constant use even though much more renovation work is still to be done. On the last Saturday night of each month the community holds a Havdalah concert with the average participation of 400 guests.

   These concerts serve as an outreach program presenting a full gamut of Jewish culture from Klezmer, art, Jewish traditions, to chazzanut. Often they host special events such as the Wroclaw Jewish Festival, with many guest artists from around the world.

   The synagogue is also the site of weddings and other Jewish celebrations. Holiday services bring a large number of Jews to the center, especially the High Holy Days and Passover.

    Weekly Shabbat services, though, are not held in the synagogue itself but in a smaller Beis Medrash in a next-door building. The number of participants that attend services weekly is growing, as well as those that attend classes and the Shabbat meals.

The Jewish Community of WroclawUl. Wlodkowica 950-072 Wroclaw Polandwww.Jewish.org.pl/wroclawEmail: wroclaw@jewish.org.pl

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns//2008/11/19/

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