Jerusalem - Israeli Rabbi Considering Legal Options As Iconic Israeli Song Used Without Permission At Olympics
Jerusalem - It was a song that was intended to touch the soul and inspire the heart, but an Israeli rabbi is contemplating legal action after having heard his composition used as background music for a women’s gymnastics routine in the 2016 summer Olympics in Rio de Janiero.
Rabbi Boruch Chait called the use of his song “Kol Haolam Kulo Gesher Tzar Meod” by 16 year old Japanese gymnast Sae Miyakawa an embarrassment, according Israeli news site Ynet.
The song, which uses the words of the Breslover Rebbe, was composed by Rabbi Chait in the days following the Yom Kippur war.
“It wasn’t exactly the intention of Rabbi Nacham of Bresolv that his words would be played to music at the Olympics,” said Rabbi Chait, rosh yeshiva of the Maarava Machon Rubin high school near Modi’in. “Any person in the world can understand that something that is imbued with holiness should not be used for just any purpose.”
Rabbi Chait noted that the song is well known in the Chasidic world as having an element of sanctity.
“When a person thinks about this song, it directs their thoughts in the proper direction,” explained Rabbi Chait. “We believe that musical composition is divinely inspired and there is a component of godliness to a song.”
Rabbi Chait received a link of Miyakawa’s performance at the Rio Olympics several days ago and was shocked to hear his music being used without his permission.
“I didn’t believe it at first, but I watched it and saw that it was true,” said Rabbi Chait, who noted that had he been asked he would not have allowed his song to be used for purposes that he deemed immodest.
Rabbi Chait, a prolific composer, founder of the musical group The Rabbi’s Sons and a well known name in the Jewish music world, said that he is unsure how to proceed.
“I don’t want to make a chilul Hashem and I don’t want to damage our relationship with Japan but legally if there are royalties that are due me, I will uphold my right to collect them.”
It was a pre-dawn visit to Jerusalem’s Old City in 1973 that inspired Rabbi Chait to compose the well known song, which has become synonymous with faith.
“I was in Gush Etzion together with Rabbi Daniel Tropper of Gesher and we went to the Kotel one night at about 3 AM, escorted by jeeps,” recalled Rabbi Chait. “It was very dangerous and it just came to me. I had a friend who accompanied me on the accordion and I taught the song to everyone who was there in about an hour. From then on it was history.”
Rabbi Chait recorded the song on his Kol Salonika 1 album but it was another visit to members of the Israeli Defense Forces that firmly cemented the song’s roots in Israeli culture.
“I was entertaining a group of soldiers at the Suez Canal and when Yehoram Gaon saw a clip of them singing it on television he decided to record it himself,” said Rabbi Chait.
A group of Japanese visitors met with Rabbi Chait several years ago, asking him about the song which they had heard and enjoyed. He said that the group still sends him cards every year for Rosh Hashana and perhaps that is how the song came to the attention of the Japanese Olympic team.
Miyakawa started in gymnastics at age two and the 4’7” tall gymnast, who medaled in last year’s Asian Championships, placed 26th in the qualifying round at this year’s Olympics in the floor exercises.
According to the NBC Olympics site she won accolades for her 2015 floor exercises which were set to music from the movie “How to Train Your Dragon.”
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