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Eli Gerstner Presents The Yeshiva Boys Choir

By Malky Lowinger

Just call him the King Midas of Jewish music. The wonderboy named Eli Gerstner has done it again. So we may as well crown him officially as King Midas of the music world. That’s because everthing he touches turns to gold.

Just when you thought that Eli’s creativity has reached its absolute limit, just when you thought he ran out of new ideas, he surprises you with something new, different, and refreshing. He offers you something you never dreamed he could do. Thus do we introduce to you Eli’s newest venture -- The Yeshiva Boys Choir. It’s an outstanding album with a distinctive sound that’s all its own.

What made Eli decide to release a choir album? Hasn’t he got a gazillion other things to do? It’s a long story, a story that goes back many years. It’s the story of two best friends who share a passion for music, and who have kept a warm and close relationship that transcends distance and time. Eli Gerstner and Yossi Neuman were known in summer camp as the music lovers. They were the ones who wrote the theme songs for their respective teams in the Grand Sing. Years went by, and Eli and Yossi parted ways. Eli became a producer of Jewish music. Yossi became a Rebbe in a prestigious out-of-town Yeshiva. The two remained good friends even though they lived miles away from each other. Look closely, and you’ll see that there’s usually a Yossi Neuman composition on every one of Eli’s bestselling albums.

But deep down, Yossi had a dream. There were so many songs which he composed over the years sitting in his head.. He wanted to record them. He also wanted to do something special with his talmidim -- a group of wonderful, talented kids with lots of stamina, enthusiasm, and skill. Yossi dreamed of bringing it all together -- combining his songs and his talmidim and coming up with a great choir album.

Go figure that Izzy Taubenfeld of Sameach Music had the same dream. He was always intrigued by the special beauty of a choir album. Years ago, he told Eli, “One of these days we’re going to have to do a boys choir album.” And so it was.

Go figure that Izzy Taubenfeld of Sameach Music had the same dream. He was always intrigued by the special beauty of a choir album. Years ago, he told Eli, “One of these days we’re going to have to do a boys choir album.” And so it was.

So Eli, Izzy, and Yossi collaborated. Yossi was in charge of the choir. Eli handled production. And Izzy gave them both his blessings. The partnership worked beautifully. The choir is superb. The songs are magical. The album is a gem. It turned out to be a partnership that brought out the best in everyone involved.

As he does with all of his projects, Eli gave this album his all. “I put my heart and soul into it,” he tells us. There’s little doubt that he does. So much of this album is characteristic Eli, so many nuances are stamped with his signature style, it becomes pretty clear that this is truly an Eli Gerstner production.

There’s a lot happening in this album, both on the surface and deep down below. The casual listener will revel in the catchy tunes, the lively music, the thoroughly enjoyable songs. The discerning connoisseur will recognize the unusual, the complex, and the unique. “Today’s audience will not be fooled,” Eli explains. “They’re looking for that special something that we put into every song. They’re listening for that one musical allusion that will make them stop and say -- Hey wait a minute! Let’s rewind that and listen to it again.”

Like in the song, “Malochim,” for example. Eli won’t reveal much except to say that there’s something going on in this song that deserves your attention. That’s aside from the five different rhythm patterns that the song presents. Eli uses high-tech gimmicks here to reverse a drum solo into something quite unusual. “It only lasts about a moment,” he says. “But it’s gonna blow your mind.”

The song that’s going to put this album on the map is “Kol Hamispalel,” a fun and fabulous hora. Composed by Eli, the words of this song come from Pirkei D’Rabbi Eliezer. “The song is very meaningful to me,” Eli says. “It’s all about the special zechus of davening in Yerushalayim. The bottom line is that the gates of shomayim are open to all those who come to Yerushalayim and pour out their hearts to the Ribono Shel Olam in this holiest city in the world. That’s a very powerful message.” The song is filled with multiple harmonies and chord progressions, not to mention some outstanding solos and instrumental interludes. In this song, Eli also introduces the ‘dee dee dum’. That’s good news for anyone who’s getting tired of the ‘nah nah nah’s that are so prevalent on his Chevra album.

Now let’s talk about the choir. There are fifty four fabulous voices in the Yeshiva Boys Choir. Emphasis here is on the word ‘Yeshiva’. Every member of the choir is a true geshmake Yeshiva boy who takes his Torah learning seriously. During the day they are masmidim. But in the evenings, on weekends, and bein hazmanim they sing their hearts out.

A funny thing happens to children when you challenge them to perform their personal best. Suddenly, their self-esteem flies through the roof and their sense of purpose begins to shine. Despite their grueling rehearsal schedule, they are the happiest kids in the world. “Parents would call Yossi,” says Eli, “to tell him that their children actually thrived because of the choir. Even their learning was enhanced since they became choirboys.”

Members of the choir range in age from five to twelve years old. Did we actually say five? Yes we did. That young voice you hear is Eli’s little brother, five year old Yaakov Mordechai Gerstner, who makes his singing debut in this album. Seems like music really does run in the family.

There’s no question that this entire project would not have been possible without the vision, the management, and the direction of Yossi Neuman. Eli may have composed some of the songs, arranged, and directed the album. But it was Yossi who made it fly. “My hat goes off to Yossi,” says Eli. “Usually, I’m a control freak. I never let anyone handle things for me. But in order for this choir to happen, I needed someone else’s help. And it had to be someone who I trust completely.”

That someone was Yossi Neuman, who stood at the helm of this project from beginning to end. Yossi handled the boys with grace, with respect, and with utmost professionalism. And they, in turn, responded in kind. “In my opinion,” Eli predicts,” this album will turn Yossi Neuman into a star.”

Eli and Izzy believe in the Yeshiva Boys Choir with all their hearts. Having been involved in the music industry for so many years, they both understand the awesome power of Jewish music. They know how deeply it affects people from all walks of life. “You wouldn’t believe the letters I get,” says Eli, “from people who are turned on to Yiddishkeit through a favorite CD or a special song.” Now imagine the effect that an album like the Yeshiva Boys Choir could have. It’s destined to make a profound impression on countless young children who will relate to the message, the ideals, and the inspiration presented in this album.

Eli understands the magic that happens when children sing. Every album that he’s ever produced includes a selection that features a youngster singing. That’s because he recognizes the temimus that blossoms whenever a young child sings. It’s a wholesome innocence that reaches out to listeners and touches their hearts. Apparently, it’s touched his own heart as well. “This album has affected me totally,” says Eli. “I told Yossi that it was worth everything just to hear these beautiful young neshomos sing.”

What a wonderful gift idea just in time for Chanuka, especially for a very special young person in your life. It’s a gift that will teach children to cherish the music, to appreciate the inspiration, and to realize that kids who strive for excellence can achieve great things. That’s quite a lot of wonderful things coming out of just one album. In terms of positive conditioning, it’s the bargain of a lifetime.


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