Friday, September 23, 2011

The Right Rosh Hashanah Video

In a previous post, I questioned the wisdom and value of a video produced by Aish Hatorah that featured cool break dancing and great scenes of Yerushalayim, but little religious value. This morning, I saw the Rosh Hashanah video that it could and should have been, produced by the Maccabeats.
I'm pretty sure that the piece will virally make its way through the Jewish world.  It's a powerful example of the strength that these videos can have simply by combining wonderful music, talented singers, clever lyrics and a sense of the story the video can tell.
We tend to compartmentalize our religious lives and our "outside" lives. When we look at the past year and the process of Teshuvah, we place our primary focus on our religious lives: how was my Shemirat Shabbat? Did I speak too much lashon hara? (Of course I did. Who hasn't?) But we don't ask the broader questions: Was I a good, sensitive spouse? Did I live a healthy life? Not only did I go to the shiur, but did I listen and use the time in the best way that I could? Was I a good employee or boss?
Rosh Hashanah really is about all of these questions, and not just how many mitzvot or aveirot I've done over the past year. Teshuvah must be about improving ourselves in all areas of our lives - in shul and yeshiva, but also at home, work, on the subway and at the gym. All represent critical areas of our lives, and all reflect our relationship with God.
This video conveys this powerful message in a strong, but meaningful way. It might even be the perfect video. If only they were filming it depicting life not in Washington Heights or Riverdale, but Tel Aviv or Modiin. Hopefully, someone as talented and insightful as the Maccabeats and their producer will come here and produce similar Hebrew language titles for a public that badly needs meaningful, beautiful, spiritually motivated media.


  1. "[Aish video], I saw the Rosh Hashanah video that it could and should have been [...]"

    I suspect that the Maccabeats have a huge advantage in producing good and meaningful art just by virtue of their grass-roots, personal-project nature. Aish is a corporation; corporations are not known for their great art. Only thing would be, if someone within Aish had a lot of inspiration and free rein to create something.

    "If only they were filming it depicting life not in Washington Heights or Riverdale, but Tel Aviv or Modiin."

    Who cares? Jewish life can thrive anywhere, at least where there is no repression. (My Hirschian roots showing through.) If you want to encourage settling in EY, fine, but these guys' message applies anywhere, and people everywhere should get that message. On the contrary, this way folks in ChuL will not have any "excuse" that they are too far removed in urban America to be spiritual. (Although honestly the little snippets captured in the video do not strike such a spiritual chord for me per se... still it's a start.)

  2. yitznewton,

    It's not whether they're part of an organization or not. It's that the Maccabeats are representing themselves exactly as they are: YU guys. They're not phony. The fact that Aish is an organization is no excuse - Aish actually has a powerful point of view - that even the most secular Jew can return to his roots when exposed to the beauty of Torah. They just don't present that POV in their video at all. Why hire a bunch of secular breakdancers who start the video pretending to be frum and end the video pretending to be frum? Why not find a breakdancer who became frum? Or a musician/actor/sports star/[insert whatever kids like these days here], and show how they have similar or greater joy now that they are frum, or show how they use their unique skills to further their yiddishkeit? The Aish video is counterproductive. It shows that Aish doesn't respect its audience or trust its own message.


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