This Sunday, as many know, an almost sold-out musical event will be held at the WaMu Theater in Madison Square Garden featuring a number of Jewish music singers and a program that Sheya Mendlowitz, the producer, says will be nothing short of uplifting. The evening, called “The Event,” will also feature a special musical tribute to Rabbi Eli Teitelbaum zt”l, the legendary marbitz Torah and mechanech, in a medley performed by Abie Rotenberg of Toronto.
This year, like last, there were some people who wished to stop the efforts of the concert organizers and performers. Matzav.com has discovered that virtually every single Litvishe rosh yeshiva refused this year to sign any letter or kol koreh banning a specific singer or The Event concert.
Gedolim have faced tremendous pressure from certain so-called activists and have maintained their position despite fabricated stories that all other roshei yeshiva would be signing against concerts and/or singers.
One particular rosh yeshiva whom Matzav.com was in contact with mentioned that these activists sat with him for over an hour, not willing to let up, and telling him that they have signatures from every other rosh yeshiva. This particular rosh yeshiva had the foresight to pick up a phone and contact a few other roshei yeshiva only to find out that they too were told the same stories but refused to sign.
Of course, at the same time, these rabbonim have said that it is vital to reinforce the idea that concerts should be comprised of kosher entertainment that does not contradict the spirit of the Torah.
Recognizing that there is a strong need to provide kosher outlets for members of our communities, especially children and young adults, gedolei harabbonim have refused numerous requests and attempts to have them sign letters against this upcoming concert and other similar events.
Over the past year, Matzav.com has been involved in and has done extensive research regarding the situation surrounding concerts in frum communities in the United States. We also have helped pair up those in the music world with roshei yeshiva and gedolei harabbonim to ensure that the result will be one of kiddush Hashem and a ribui of kevod Shomayim.
Last year, a meeting of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah of Agudas Yisroel of America was convened to discuss a plan of action for concerts that will take place in the future.
Matzav.com, after consulting with a number of the roshei yeshiva in the United States, learned that most felt that concerts may be held, but they said that there must be set guidelines to be followed regarding the performers, the style of music, intermissions, and separate seating. The rabbonim said that they cannot decide what should or should not be allowed in Eretz Yisroel. The gedolim there will deal with the issues in that country. As far as America is concerned, however, they see the challenges facing our communities, the diverse backgrounds, and the issue of kids-at-risk, amongst other important matters. As mentioned, the rabbonim felt – and still feel – that there is a strong need to provide kosher outlets for members of our communities.
There were some rabbonim who expressed their feeling that any gathering of many people that is not for the sake of Torah should not be held at all. However, most of the gedolei harabbonim did not concur with this view, and maintained that if our generation were holding on such a high level, it would indeed be a wonderful thing. The reality, the rabbonim said, is that this is simply not the case. If there would not be kosher outlets, people will seek sources of entertainment elsewhere and will find options that are far worse to their spirituality.
Sheya Mendlowitz, the producer of this year’s “The Event” concert, told Matzav.com that he has consulted with his rabbonim, as he has always done in the past, concerning the outline for the upcoming event. Matzav.com has confirmed that he has gone to consult with many of this generation’s leading roshei yeshiva and rabbonim in the United States to inquire as to how he can make this event a true kiddush Hashem and hopefully recoup the lost money for the tzedakah organization which had invested in last year’s cancelled event. Matzav.com has had representatives at these meetings as well.
The roshei yeshiva and rabbonim that Matzav.com contacted over the past few months have said that the outcome of a new event with a program that conforms to the spirit of the Torah would be a big kiddush Hashem. They have hoped that if this event were designed and orchestrated in a proper fashion, in accordance with the spirit of Torah, it would set a standard for all future concerts to follow.
These rabbonim have also recognized the fallout that occurs from kol korehs and bans that do not take the full picture into consideration and have thus not allowed for their signatures to appear on such letters.