Gerstner Presents YBC 4
“Sh’moy Shel Melech”
It’s always a treat to talk to Eli Gerstner. Especially
because his conversations are like a breath of fresh
air. When you interview Eli, the first rule of thumb
is to be armed with an ample supply of strong coffee.
That’s because chances are he’s going to
fit you into his schedule sometime in the middle of
the night and because he’s probably going to have
a lot to say.
So coffee mug in hand, I call Eli and
am delighted to discover that he is on the verge of
releasing the fourth edition of Yeshiva Boys Choir.
These mega-talented children have already won our hearts
long ago, ever since we heard them on their first album.
Their youth, their exuberance, their purity, and their
sincerity, are an irresistible combination. Fans of
Yeshiva Boys Choir now have cause to rejoice. YBC 4
is on its way. And in true Gerstner fashion, this one
is every bit as innovative, intriguing, and exciting
as the first.
It’s no surprise, then, that
the Yeshiva Boys Choir phenomenon took the world by
storm. Its purity is endearing, its message is eternal,
its simcha is genuine. It allows us to reconnect with
the innocence and sincerity that is buried deep within
Which brings us to YBC 4, otherwise
known as “Sh’moy Shel Melech,” which
should be released by the time this article goes to
print. The first thing Eli points out is that the cover
of this album is unique. Its checkerboard design features
little square photos of all 40 members of the choir,
leading us to appreciate the individual qualities of
But that’s just the cover of
the album. It’s what’s inside that really
matters. Like much of Eli’s work, this album celebrates
youth. Eli recognizes the excitement and the passion
of the young generation, and he captures it in his work.
All Gerstner music has mass appeal and easily transcends
the generations. But young people have always been and
will continue to be his most enthusiastic fans.
Every EG Production introduces new
elements, otherwise it wouldn’t be ‘vintage
Gerstner’. Without divulging too many of its secrets,
Eli promises that this new album is also groundbreaking.
“There will always be some kind of innovation,”
he says. “It could be in the melody, in the arrangements,
or in the concepts. I try hard for all three.”
We have all learned to recognize Gerstner-esque
innovations. We just don’t always realize the
‘chochmah’ behind them. To Eli, the dum-dum-dums,
and the ooh-ahhs, and the doom-dooms aren’t just
fillers. They are meaningful and significant. “Wherever
I go, all over the world,” he says, “I realize
that we’re singing to many unaffiliated Jews and
to lots of children. That’s a tremendous responsibility
which we take seriously.” Often, these listeners
simply can’t keep up with the p’sukim or
the lyrics of a song. Yet they are still captivated
by the melody. That’s why Eli tries to include
the dum-dee-dums in some of his most popular songs.
It allows these genuine and sincere listeners to join
in and connect with the song on a more personal level.
“I hold the mike out to the crowd,” he says,
“and baruch Hashem everyone is singing along.”
Eli’s trademark is simple, catchy,
fast-paced, and refreshing. Therein lies his genius.
His music is genuinely appealing, universally charming,
and totally fun. Between you and me, it looks like the
title song on this album is destined to become one of
his trademark masterpieces. If you loved Kol Hamispallel,
V’ahavta & Shabichi, then look forward to
being pleasantly entertained all over again.
It wouldn’t be fair to talk about
the YBC album without pausing to give credit to those
amazing choirboys themselves & their fearless leader,
Yossi Newman. When Eli & Yossi first decided to
start a boys choir, they stood firmly behind one indisputable
mantra – “Yeshiva first, choir second.”
They will bend over backwards, often forgoing some very
lucrative offers, in order to ensure that the boys do
not miss Yeshiva because of the choir. “We were
in London last summer,” says Eli. “We left
New York mamash the day after Yeshiva ended and we were
back right before camp started. I can honestly say that
we get calls from all over the world asking us to come
down and perform. But if it means missing three or four
days of Yeshiva, we turn them down”.
That’s not all. Eli and Yossi
make sure that the counselors and chaperones who accompany
the boys on their travels are themselves Yeshivish.
They try to create a Torahdik environment, even scheduling
shiurim for the boys while they’re on the road.
Invariably, the group makes a tremendous kiddush Hashem,
both onstage and off.
I can go on and on about the album,
but then perhaps you were one of those lucky people
who were privileged to a sneak preview of some of its
songs at this year’s Pesach concert, during which
YBC Live 3 was recorded. It was during this performance
that the choir recorded Hamalach, a beautiful and powerful
Apparently, members of the audience
had done their own recording, and within an hour the
song had been posted on You-Tube where it reportedly
received close to fifty thousand downloads, before it
was taken down. Needless to say, it is already catching
on all over the Jewish world.
So will another song, called “Koh
Ribon”. Certainly we are all familiar with our
own classic variations of this holy Zemirah of Shabbos.
Yet Eli felt it was time to introduce his own version.
It sounds like it is destined to be a classic, one of
those songs that will undoubtedly be a major hit in
every camp next summer. Eli deliberately kept the harmonies
simple yet effective. You can almost hear the united
voices in the camp dining rooms singing it in perfect
harmony, enhancing oneg Shabbos for all.
Then there’s the song called
“Torah”, which was written after Eli’s
second son was born. This is hardly the first time Eli
is composing music in response to a dramatic and inspiring
event in his personal life. Fans will remember that
he wrote “Odcha”, which was featured on
Chevra 2, after his first son was born. The raw emotion
of that melody made it the theme song of anyone who
ever felt hakoras hatov to the Ribono Shel Olam for
the blessings in their lives.
So when his second son, Moishe, was
born, it was Eli’s mother-in-law, of all people,
who approached him and asked, “Did you write a
song for Moishe yet?” Eli’s shvigger, who
appreciates his talents as much as the rest of us, urged
him to compose a melody in response to the birth. “But
make it a fast song,” she said. “Make it
The result is “Torah”,
one of the most original songs that Eli has ever written
with a very unique sound. It cleverly combines the names
of both of his sons, “Moshe” and “Yaakov”,
in one outstanding composition. It’s a real gem,
you actually hear the joy and happiness emanating from
But the tone of our conversation turns
somber, as Eli takes a moment to reflect upon the recent
passing of the great Izzy Taubenfeld, O”H, founder
of Sameach Music. Eli worked closely with Izzy for over
11 years, and says that, “he was an unbelievable
person, both inside and out.” Eli says that Izzy’s
contributions to the Jewish music industry are immeasurable.
“His love for music was so incredible,”
says Eli. “He wasn’t a musician but he had
a tremendous excitement about music and he thought out
of the box. He released albums that were a little bit
different and would have never otherwise hit the shelves.
Eventually, others would recognize their greatness as
As for his personal qualities, Eli
remembers Izzy as a true “mentch” who knew
how to deal with people, who treated everyone well,
and who was always available to help others with a smile.
Eli plans on releasing Menucha 2 in a couple of months
as a tribute to Izzy Taubenfeld, since Menucha was Izzy’s
Expect big things from Eli, even after
the YBC and Menucha releases. You know he’s not
going to sit still, no matter how much he’s accomplished.
Let’s just say he looks forward to sharing with
us YBC Live 3, and Chevra 4 sometime in the near future.
There are also plans in the works for another big YBC
Live show this coming Sukkos in Brooklyn college (Monday
night - October 5), but we’re not at the liberty
to divulge more details at this time.
There’s never a dull moment,
as far as Eli Gerstner is concerned. He is a virtual
‘music machine’, churning out energetic
and outstanding music at an astonishing rate. He has
an incredible capacity to create a lot in minimum time,
and has been blessed with tremendous siyata dishmaya
in his efforts so far. Eli, of course, will be the first
one to tell you that all of his talent and success are
min hashomayim. “When you do things for the right
reason,” he figures, “you inevitably achieve
hatzlacha.” May this hatzlacha continue for YBC
4 and beyond.