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Jerusalem - Israeli Rabbi Considering Legal Options As Iconic Israeli Song Used Without Permission At Olympics

Published on: September 2, 2016 11:43 AM
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Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 09/08/2016.   Sae Miyakawa (JPN) of Japan competes on the floor exercise. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj  Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 09/08/2016.  Sae Miyakawa (JPN) of Japan competes on the floor exercise. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

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 Boruch Chait Rabbi Boruch Chait

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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Read Comments (22)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Sep 02, 2016 at 12:03 PM remelys Says:

Perhaps instead of possibly making a Chilul Hashem by filing a ridiculous lawsuit about a non-issue, he could embrace it, and reach out to the gymnast and discuss the meaning of the song.

2

 Sep 02, 2016 at 12:24 PM alterknaker Says:

Reply to #1  
remelys Says:

Perhaps instead of possibly making a Chilul Hashem by filing a ridiculous lawsuit about a non-issue, he could embrace it, and reach out to the gymnast and discuss the meaning of the song.

I'm a big fan of rabbi Boruch's deep deep heart & soul warming songs, and but I was very surprised to read this news, כבודו במקומו מונח I thought that he had more of a brain, & didn't know how/what to comment, so you put it down very well, well done,

3

 Sep 02, 2016 at 12:21 PM NoMan Says:

I can't believe that Rabbi Chait composed this song after the Yom Kippur War. I heard him play and sing it, together with Yisroel Lamm, in the summer of 1971. I remember the scene 'till today.

4

 Sep 02, 2016 at 12:34 PM REALIST Says:

Reply to #1  
remelys Says:

Perhaps instead of possibly making a Chilul Hashem by filing a ridiculous lawsuit about a non-issue, he could embrace it, and reach out to the gymnast and discuss the meaning of the song.

And perhaps you should stick your opinions where they belong... in your own business!

5

 Sep 02, 2016 at 12:47 PM REALIST Says:

Reply to #1  
remelys Says:

Perhaps instead of possibly making a Chilul Hashem by filing a ridiculous lawsuit about a non-issue, he could embrace it, and reach out to the gymnast and discuss the meaning of the song.

And perhaps you should stick your opinions where they belong... in your own business!

6

 Sep 02, 2016 at 12:52 PM mythoughts Says:

Reply to #1  
remelys Says:

Perhaps instead of possibly making a Chilul Hashem by filing a ridiculous lawsuit about a non-issue, he could embrace it, and reach out to the gymnast and discuss the meaning of the song.

I agree. I'm cringing reading this article.

7

 Sep 02, 2016 at 01:54 PM MarkTwain2 Says:

What's the connection between rabbi chaits argument and collecting royalties for usage. Either protest the warping of the song in the lodged complaint, or sue to collect royalties and lodge a complaint of unauthorized use.

8

 Sep 02, 2016 at 02:00 PM Heeb Says:

Reply to #5  
REALIST Says:

And perhaps you should stick your opinions where they belong... in your own business!

Since when is a commenter not allowed to express his opinion??

9

 Sep 02, 2016 at 03:23 PM The_Truth Says:

Reply to #7  
MarkTwain2 Says:

What's the connection between rabbi chaits argument and collecting royalties for usage. Either protest the warping of the song in the lodged complaint, or sue to collect royalties and lodge a complaint of unauthorized use.

They are two different things, but I think that despite his displeasure of using holy words to gymnastics, even if he cant prevent someone using his music like that, he can still sue to collect royalties and lodge a complaint of unauthorized use.

10

 Sep 02, 2016 at 03:32 PM ShatzMatz Says:

So I guess the song is only Holy until you pay royalties, then it becomes OK.

So I guess if there are still a few goyim in the far reaches of asia who don't think of Jews as money grubbing, Rabbi Chait wants to make sure to enlighten them.

The whole world looks at the Olympics as a unique phenomenon of international brotherhood and camaraderie, except a Rabbi from Israel who looks at it as a payday. Other musicians would look at it as an honor.

I do believe that the Olympics are not looked at as a commercial for-profit enterprise, therefore there is no chance of extorting the Japanese sports association for easy money, and if anything it would be a token sum.

But the value of the chillul hashem = priceless

11

 Sep 02, 2016 at 03:46 PM DMD45 Says:

I have loved Rabbi Baruch Chait's music since the early days of The Rabbis' Sons, and he has every reason to be both proud and possessive of his compositions. Due to its popularity, common usage, and the many covering and replay versions over the years, it may well be that "Gesher Tzar" has already passed into the status of "public domain". As such, Rabbi Chait should be thankful, and take pride that his music was given world-wide exposure above all other choices by the Olympic gymnast. Rather than contemplating legal action, lawsuits, and the resulting adverse publicity to himself, Israel, and Clal Yisroel, Rabbi Chait would be well advised to graciously reach out, thank the gymnast, and follow the advice of comment #1. דמד שבת שלומ

12

 Sep 02, 2016 at 04:01 PM Anonymous Says:

I am sure that the whole story is skewed and its presentation is a fabrication and does not present fact.

13

 Sep 02, 2016 at 09:41 PM Esther Says:

Reply to #10  
ShatzMatz Says:

So I guess the song is only Holy until you pay royalties, then it becomes OK.

So I guess if there are still a few goyim in the far reaches of asia who don't think of Jews as money grubbing, Rabbi Chait wants to make sure to enlighten them.

The whole world looks at the Olympics as a unique phenomenon of international brotherhood and camaraderie, except a Rabbi from Israel who looks at it as a payday. Other musicians would look at it as an honor.

I do believe that the Olympics are not looked at as a commercial for-profit enterprise, therefore there is no chance of extorting the Japanese sports association for easy money, and if anything it would be a token sum.

But the value of the chillul hashem = priceless

As amatter of fact,the Olympics are a huge,corrupt,money making venture.

14

 Sep 03, 2016 at 10:21 PM HeshyEmes Says:

Reply to #10  
ShatzMatz Says:

So I guess the song is only Holy until you pay royalties, then it becomes OK.

So I guess if there are still a few goyim in the far reaches of asia who don't think of Jews as money grubbing, Rabbi Chait wants to make sure to enlighten them.

The whole world looks at the Olympics as a unique phenomenon of international brotherhood and camaraderie, except a Rabbi from Israel who looks at it as a payday. Other musicians would look at it as an honor.

I do believe that the Olympics are not looked at as a commercial for-profit enterprise, therefore there is no chance of extorting the Japanese sports association for easy money, and if anything it would be a token sum.

But the value of the chillul hashem = priceless

A bit harsh; don't you think? Rabbi Chait is not a מלאך; he's a human being. What he is saying in essence is; if you use my song to Sanctify Hashem, then you have free reign (a thank you & honorable mention would be nice though). But if it's used Commercially, nothing to do with what it was intended for; then let me at least get paid for it, or some recognition & PR so that I can get a few $$ out of it. What's wrong with that??? Let's not be over sensitive to being seen as "money grubbers" for defending a copyright like every goy would!

15

 Sep 03, 2016 at 10:34 PM eliezer318 Says:

Flattering, rather, that the song was used, imho. A Holy melody working its effect on millions who hear it. Yes, explain it, don't try to collect on it.

16

 Sep 03, 2016 at 10:36 PM Eliezer318 Says:

or maybe he is afraid that what happened to "Hava Negila" would happen to his song...?

17

 Sep 03, 2016 at 10:50 PM Hallel Says:

Your headline is wrong. It's not an "Israeli song"; it's a Jewish song.

18

 Sep 04, 2016 at 12:16 AM knownothing Says:

i never heard of this song or of the rabbi. who decided that this song is "holy"? and you think a japanese gymnast should have known? geez!

19

 Sep 04, 2016 at 04:10 AM ???? Says:

Not צניעות how did he watch it?!?!.

20

 Sep 04, 2016 at 05:05 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #18  
knownothing Says:

i never heard of this song or of the rabbi. who decided that this song is "holy"? and you think a japanese gymnast should have known? geez!

and who exactly are you, again?

21

 Sep 04, 2016 at 05:06 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #18  
knownothing Says:

i never heard of this song or of the rabbi. who decided that this song is "holy"? and you think a japanese gymnast should have known? geez!

Perhaps Rabbi Nachman should claim royalties from rabbi chait?

22

 Sep 05, 2016 at 08:32 PM Sha1om Says:

Reply to #11  
DMD45 Says:

I have loved Rabbi Baruch Chait's music since the early days of The Rabbis' Sons, and he has every reason to be both proud and possessive of his compositions. Due to its popularity, common usage, and the many covering and replay versions over the years, it may well be that "Gesher Tzar" has already passed into the status of "public domain". As such, Rabbi Chait should be thankful, and take pride that his music was given world-wide exposure above all other choices by the Olympic gymnast. Rather than contemplating legal action, lawsuits, and the resulting adverse publicity to himself, Israel, and Clal Yisroel, Rabbi Chait would be well advised to graciously reach out, thank the gymnast, and follow the advice of comment #1. דמד שבת שלומ

The album "Kol Salonika" which contained this song was released in 1972. Unfortunately we don't know the exact date. If it was released before February 15 of that year, it's in the public domain on the federal level; prior to that date, only state law applies. New York State prohibits unauthorized manufacture, sale, copying etc. of sound recordings prior to that date, but specifically exempts broadcast (see NYS Penal Law, article 275). Any sound recording released after 2/15/1972 is covered by Federal copyright law until the year 2067.

(Note that although the cover has a copyright date of 1972, the actual label on the LP says 1975, in which case, he's got a case.)

23

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