Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Chassid concert banned by rabbis

Hebrew Ban textOver the last year of writing this blog, I've done my best to get my head around the traditional (Modern Orthodox & Chassid) music scene. For a liberal Conservative Jew like me, it can be a bit of an other-worldly experience.

Here's a good example. There is/was a big concert ("The Big Event") scheduled for March 9th at Madison Square Garden, in New York featuring Sheya Mendlowitz, Yisroel Lamm, Lipa Schmeltzer, & Shloime Gertner all regular performers on the traditional Jewish music circuit. I've seen folks in the frum music blogs and mailing lists buzzing about it for months now. The Big Event was a Big Deal.

And now it's been canceled, banned by leading rabbi's. Why? I'm not clear, though Blog In Dm has an excellent play by play of the whole affair. It seems that the rabbi's take issue with Lipa Schmeltzer for some reason. (I posted Lipa's 'Oy Channukah' video recently. Surreal, but very fun.) The language they use in the ban, though, seems (to BlogInDm) to set the stage for banning all concerts. (The text to the left is the official ban proclamation.)

Not being part of the traditional community, I'm not going to comment on whether the ban is a good thing or a bad thing, or whether it was executed properly or not. But I will say that I find the whole thing perplexing.

Anyway, I feel bad for all of the teenage Chassid music fans with tickets and no show to go to. I remember being 17 with a ticket to a big concert in my hand (Pink Floyd, Duran Duran, and R.E.M). That was about as magical a feeling as I've ever had. Having the show canceled? whew. that would have been pretty dismal.

Here's a representative quote from one of the fans on one of the frum music mailing lists...

"This is a real loss and a sad victory for the dregs of frum society who hide
their rishus behind fake frumkeit. Lipa is FUN. We are allowed to have FUN. Get it? Got it? Good!!"

I hear you brother, and I'm sorry it's going down like this.


I was reading through some more of tonights blog / mailinglist discussion on the banning and have a few more details.

1. It seems that the issue with Lipa is that his performances are a bit 'over the top' and 'goyish' for some in the Jewish community. The official word is that Lipa has decided to change his act to leave the objectionable bits out of future shows.

2. The issue of 'goyish' songs (non-Jewish compositions) is coming up regularly. This is one of the most perplexing bits. Jewish music has always borrowed back and forth with the music of our non-Jewish neighbors. What's the big deal here?

3. Another possible issue is the use of mixed seating (e.g. men and women sitting next to each other.) Evidently this is frowned on. The confusing thing is that, according to my sources, the Big Event was not going to allow mixed seating and HASC, another big Chassidic Orthodox concert series, does allow mixed seating (and hasn't been banned).


Chris L. said...

HASC is most definitely not a "Hasidic" concert, I can attest.

Jack said...

Really? I guess I thought it was because of the strong participation of Chassidic performers. Thanks for the correction.

Chris L. said...

Others like Hasidic performers because they're "different".

Jack said...

Sure. That makes sense.

Anonymous said...

I’m really proud how this ENTIRE matziv is being handled. B’h Klal Yisrael has been blessed with real Gedolei Torah who have guided us through turbulent times in golus.


L’maysa the whole concert sounded like it was gonna be a huge party


at M.S.G. rigt before purim,
THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT mordechai AND esther wanted us to take out of the story of PURIM. I am sure everyone reading this comment will agree 100% Rabbi T.C.

Jack said...

No boundaries huh? Half-naked boys and girls dancing around stoned on E?

Oh. Sorry. That's a typical rave party. This was a carefully organized concert put together by observent Jews. No booze. No mixed seating. No intermissions. Only well known and well respected performers.

But that's not enough is it? Face it, all evidence suggest that the Rabonim acted in good faith but were lied to by a people who don't think it's acceptable to be Jewish and have fun.

And you wonder why Othodox and Chassid kids leave the frum communities in droves.

Let me assure you I don't agree with your comment at all. Now, I'm not an Orthodox Jew. I'm just a Conservative Jew, so you can discount my opinion. But there are a lot of observant Orthodox and Chassid Jews that feel the same. Go read any of the recent posts on BlogInDm or Life of Rubin if you don't belive me.