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Bnei Brak - BBC: Rabbis Blacklist Non-kosher Music

Published on: September 12, 2008 09:52 AM
By: BBC News
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Rabbi Luft says modern music can corrupt young people. Photo Credit BBC NewsBnei Brak - Lipa Schmeltzer looks and sounds every inch the popular ultra-orthodox Jewish singer that he is.

He sings in Yiddish. He dresses in the clothes of a Haredi Jew and all of his song lyrics come from the scriptures.

Yet some say Schmeltzer’s music, and that of others like him, is indecent and unfit for public consumption.

“They are leading the public astray and are causing a great negative influence on the young generation,” says Rabbi Efraim Luft, head of an ultra-orthodox organisation in Israel called the Committee for Jewish Music.

Supported by leading Haredi rabbis, Rabbi Luft has drawn up a black-list of musicians and bands - music that he says that is not kosher and cannot be played at ultra-orthodox weddings or public events because of its decadent nature.

Rules for Playing Kosher Music, Committee for Jewish Music 


What Rabbi Luft objects to so vehemently is not just contemporary, western music - rock, rap or pop - but the use of modern instruments and beats in the tunes of orthodox singers like Lipa Schmeltzer.

“The main part of the music should be the melody. Percussion should be secondary. They should not bend notes electronically and should not use instruments like electric guitars, bass guitars or saxophones in Jewish music,” he says.

Sitting in the dining room of his small flat in the orthodox town of Bnei Brak, close to Tel Aviv, Rabbi Luft explains his preference for traditional, even sombre, Jewish tunes like Kol Nidrei.

A serious, studious man the rabbi explains how he thinks modern music is disrespectful, leading young people astray and can lead to the collapse of education and the family system.

The use of percussion accompaniment in slow, quiet music is generally ridiculous. 2/4 beats and other rock and disco beats must not be used

It is a broad charge, but the rabbi is convinced that in the last 25 years music has gradually eroded moral standing in society.

Saying that music is “powerful”, he says the “purpose of modern music - its influences - is to distract young people and change good characters into bad”.

The Rabbi says such music, even Jewish rock music, “where the dangerous beat plays more of a part than the melody, has no place in a society where people are trying to keep their moral standards high.

There are approximately 500,000 ultra-orthodox Haredi Jews in Israel. They tend to live in their own communities in, or near Israel’s major towns.

Their plain, modest clothing, rituals and centuries-old customs make the Haredis unmistakable and their lives revolve around their faith.

Because of the loyal relationship between orthodox Jews and their rabbis, the influence of bodies like the Committee for Jewish Music and the Guardians of Sanctity and Education is considerable.

They have already succeeded in banning virtually all public concerts by ultra-orthodox groups and singers in Israel.

Famous, successful singers like Avraham Fried - a devout, observant orthodox Jew - are not exempt.

Making up around 8% of the population of Israel, the Haredi community has real economic clout. Boycotts have been very effective.

Menahem Toker, an award-winning disc jockey, who was dismissed from a radio show under pressure from Haredi activists, warns the policy could backfire.

“In Jewish Orthodox culture there’s no cinema, no theatre, no television. The only thing we have is music”, says Mr Toker.

“We are the same, orthodox, people but if they don’t find an alternative they’ll lose the young people - they’ll go to non-kosher shows and they’ll have lost the next generation.”

It is a dire warning from a man who cares deeply about his religion and his music - but the hard-line rabbis are unapologetic.

In a world bursting with mobile phones, MP4 players and DVDs they say it is their moral duty to protect young people against the evils of the modern world.


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Read Comments (68)  —  Post Yours »


 Sep 12, 2008 at 09:58 AM ujm Says:

I wish they would do this in the US, The shtutz in this country is appalling.


 Sep 12, 2008 at 09:58 AM Yachtzel Says:

The usual BBC obsession with yiden - frumme yiden in particular.


 Sep 12, 2008 at 10:29 AM Genius Says:

I love #9:
"Only the person paying the musician has a right to tell them what & how to play"

So apparently, this must mean that this guy is now going to pay for all musicians, at all simchas, for everyone!!!!


 Sep 12, 2008 at 10:28 AM spero chussid Says:

i think this "rabbi"s wife wares a burka and its been rumored that he is actually tone deaf!


 Sep 12, 2008 at 10:25 AM Izzy Says:

These Telban Rabbis will make Frum Jews go off the Derach.


 Sep 12, 2008 at 10:31 AM spero chussid Says:

i think he is in need of a job any1 who can help him it woudld be a great zechus


 Sep 12, 2008 at 10:43 AM PLEASE!!!!....... Says:

All the worlds problems come from Lipa. President bush is free to go.....we have lipa to blame now!!


 Sep 12, 2008 at 10:58 AM MAYER Says:

In todays age people brain are so pressured and so many take pills for problems steming from the economy etc. that they need a little bit of lipa songs for chizuk. Now for those that dont need it good for them. But others it could mean depressing and maybe danger chas v'shulem. so since klal yisroel is waiting in golus so long please leave them alone till moschiach comes then we will all do better.


 Sep 12, 2008 at 10:56 AM FinVeeNemtMenSeichel Says:

there is shmutz in everything. if we don't learn how to control our yetzer haras even peeling vegetables can lead us off the derech. assering and assering makes a caricature out of orthodox judaism and not to the outside world; to our own children. i'm sorry, to me, it's just yet another obscure rabbi/askan drawing attention to himself. i love music and agree that the jewish music we grew up with is dead and buried. but the new geneartion likes the new garbage. go figure. but to asser? my suggestion: turn whatever music is left down a bit and listen... just listen to the sound of youngsters leaving the derech while mocking us for the chachomim we think we are.


 Sep 12, 2008 at 10:39 AM Anonymous Says:

Rabbi Luft? Hmm what does "Luft" mean? Air? yes well then he's just blowing Luft!!


 Sep 12, 2008 at 10:38 AM Anonymous Says:

With a degree in Music I feel qualified to say the Rabbi has no understanding of the construct of "western" music and is deluding himself and others into thinking he has a grasp of the history of Jewish music.

Bending notes? well that certainly removes the Shofar

This guy hasn't the foggiest notion as to the origins of western music (no of which is of middle eastern origin including klezemer & classical)

His other points are just too absurd to discuss.


 Sep 12, 2008 at 11:10 AM chaim36 Says:

The real issue in regards to music is the incredible blasting sound which is destructive.It is a serious health hazzard and emulates the goyim by trying to be ' cool '.


 Sep 12, 2008 at 11:08 AM yossele Says:

Thank G-d for this *guardian* of our people.

He is *saving yiddishe neshomes* by addressing one of the *major problems* affecting our community.

He obviously has the backing of the *gedolei yisroel* and therefore deserves our (presumably financial) support.

*denotes sarcasm.


 Sep 12, 2008 at 10:55 AM Anonymous Says:


Twice I've informed ERLICHE YIDDEN that by the way, their ringtone was playing "Oh when the saints come marching in"...Do they know what kind of tune this is? no...and they shouldn't


 Sep 12, 2008 at 11:16 AM Anonymous Says:

Wasn't this guy in the movie Footloose?

Appropriateness in any matter is so subjective. Do any of this Rabbi's supporters realize just how foolish this looks to anyone with half a brain.

Bring up a generation that can figure out on their own what is appropriate and what isnt(when halacha doesnt address the issue) and Yiddishkeit will be a lot better off.


 Sep 12, 2008 at 11:14 AM Lock & Load Says:

This is good for the Music Business


 Sep 12, 2008 at 11:24 AM Anonymous Says:

WOW. We have people theteaning rabbi twerski's children because he wants to save children from molesters and we have rabbonim who are too busy protecting us from noise.



 Sep 12, 2008 at 11:23 AM Use your head Says:

chaim36 - "incredible blasting sound which is destructive" - did you come up with that pearl on your own? Beautiful.


 Sep 12, 2008 at 11:13 AM Avraham Abba Says:

rabbi Luft really understands what H. wants from us. All day and all night sadness. Always remember to say, Oy!
Why should we want our Jewish male children to meet some low Jewish female children? Why meet Jews when there are so many millions and even billions of females who are not Jewish. Why should we go to Jewish concerts? Please reemember to buy only his songs and to ignore all the other bands which have been stealing good money from the rabbi. We all know about the trains and buses. If you go to a Jewish concert, it might possibly make you think of a train. On that train, there might be a female. Looking at her will make us sin. But that is good Rabbi Luft!!
Once we sin, we will be sad. And isn't that what He wants from us?
Even if we are stuck and we can't think of anything, just should start singing Kol Nidre which makes people sad even though they will say it's good; but the sad tune will help us be where the rabbi wants us to be, sad and in depression.
Now remember please....be sad, and bring your children up to follow the sad derech which leads to tshuva and then we are finally ready for more and deeper sadness and that will bring more tshuva and then Moshiach wil come.
Do not be happy; it's assur.


 Sep 12, 2008 at 11:30 AM lebediger Says:

Rabbi? who is this person? what is this person?
the problem is that anyone is comming up with an idea he starts calling himself RABBI now with all new stupid comments anyone wnts to address he is also using the "gedoila hador" name
soon nobody will believe the rabbis
stop using theirs names for shtissem


 Sep 12, 2008 at 11:30 AM Anonymous Says:

To commenter number 1: Had I been a BBC reporter i would also be obsessed.

That Luft guy, the supposed "Gedolim" he represents, and the Yerushalayime street that generally heeds those calls, do indeed make for an absurd and ironic bunch!


 Sep 12, 2008 at 11:39 AM spero chussid Says:

i think he got fired from Gal Paz and is taking revenge


 Sep 12, 2008 at 11:53 AM Anonymous Says:

the goyim have a sect like him. they're called PENTECOSTALS. They hit themselves, wear black clothing, and go around sad and punishing themselves.

whatever happened to MITZVAH GEDOLAH L'HIOS B'SIMCHA??


 Sep 12, 2008 at 11:50 AM Use your head Says:

Why do people give lunatics so much attention? If we ignore them they will go away!


 Sep 12, 2008 at 11:55 AM Anonymous Says:

I too deplore the state of much of Jewish music today, but I care less for heavy-handed tactics. They're just asking for a rebellion.

By the way, the saxophone is not a modern instrument. It was invented in the 1840s and has its origins in classical music.


 Sep 12, 2008 at 12:10 PM Fartzonovitch Says:

Rabbi Efraim Luft is a fool. This guys is a colda Litvak, who prefers slow sad and somber songs do. That is his opinion NOT HALACHA!!! So please stop interupting HALACHA to the choice of your music.

Go be "machmir" on yourself but don't start messing with peoples Parnusa. I won't want to be you on Yom Kippur.


 Sep 12, 2008 at 12:47 PM LEMAYSA Says:

It is getting harder and harder to remain frum in the crazy world of ours.


 Sep 12, 2008 at 12:46 PM Anonymous Says:



 Sep 12, 2008 at 12:45 PM joseph Says:

who is this guy and why should we listen to him
let him go to work so he wont have time to come with these idiocies
the problem of this generaton is that we have too many "avreichim" floating around doing nothing especially in israel

people that work for a living dont have time for this busht!

look at the amount of people comung schnorring from israel on any given morniing in shule

just today i was in the agudah of ave l and a busload literally came in all health young people schnorring from israel
why do we have to support people who make zero effort on behalf of their parnassah


 Sep 12, 2008 at 01:30 PM jj Says:

i think im gonna be digging up some dirton this hot air LUFT guy. lets see how KOSHER this luft guy really is


 Sep 12, 2008 at 01:34 PM chaim36 Says:

RE= USE YOUR HEAD.....When was the last time you went to a wedding / bar- mitvah and were able to hear yourself ?Did you ever notice that these musicians use EAR PLUGS .Why should we endure this painful sound ?


 Sep 12, 2008 at 02:03 PM joe Says:

Because something is annoying to "chaim36" Lets make it Asur to everyone just to make "chaim36" happy. You are self centered


 Sep 12, 2008 at 01:47 PM Anonymous Says:

first let them make a blacklist against, molesters, stealers, wife beaters, men who won't give a get , and the list goes on.


 Sep 12, 2008 at 02:30 PM from NJ Says:

Ban Maoz Tsur, its melody is from a hymn composed by Martin Luther, the founder of the Protestant church.

Now THAT is a goyishe influence!!


 Sep 12, 2008 at 03:14 PM Mindy Says:

I can't beleive the Shtusem the rabbi's are busy with instead of the real issues! like locking up molesters!!!!!! What world are we living in????


 Sep 12, 2008 at 03:12 PM UNAFILIATEDJEW Says:

Rabbi Luft was probably campaigning against Felder.
Because Simcha is assur!!


 Sep 12, 2008 at 03:06 PM Anonymous Says:

well at least the rabbi got many positive comments from moslems on BBC not bad


 Sep 12, 2008 at 03:04 PM Realist Says:

Dear Rabbi,
So sad that thousands of years ago, our G'dolim understood the concept of "ain rov hatzibur y'cholim laamod bo", and you can't begin to fathom what that means.


 Sep 12, 2008 at 03:26 PM nebech Says:

rabbi luft u need to go zich "luftern"


 Sep 12, 2008 at 03:24 PM nebech Says:

evryday a new "vaad" "committe", now we need a new vaad "lemishmeres h'vaad v'hacommitte's"


 Sep 12, 2008 at 03:21 PM nebech Says:

a NEW self appo. committe another self appo. "va'ad, its a joke. vaad mishmeres "MUSICK"


 Sep 12, 2008 at 03:57 PM Anonymous Says:

Rabbi luft is addresing a very serious problem in the ortodox community, well admired rabanim, roshe yeshivos, menahalim from chasidishe and litvishe schools alike are finding themselves climing against a wall to fight this major critical problem that is ruining heilige yidishe boys, any one who argues against this matter has absolutley no understanding of the power and bad influence of the music hitting our communities. Chazak V'amats Rabbi Luft you are a Hero its time already to do something about this You will be acknoledged as a big mezakei horabim when the day of moshiach will arrive shortly and the sheker will be gone.


 Sep 12, 2008 at 04:05 PM Tzoorba Says:

Years ago all chasunas had klezmer music. This wouldn't fit the restricted parameters of Rabbi Luft.

We suffer from many kanoim who have good intentions and want to impose chumras on the tzibur. Unless we hear a psak from gedolei Torah directly I would say lo dayach mah sheasra torah?


 Sep 12, 2008 at 04:15 PM Anonymous Says:

In fact there has been many kol Korah in the past years on this issue from most of the aknoledged geolei torah in the US & Isael


 Sep 12, 2008 at 03:59 PM Heimish Yid Says:

Excuse me!! The more "Thou shalt not" the more at risk kids we are going to see! What is happening is that everyday someone has another idea to top the other guys idea of "Thou shalt not". It is definitly the Taliban mentality and is turning our generation off the derech!! Moshiach better come quick cause soon Chas Vasholem there wont be to many people to come too!


 Sep 12, 2008 at 04:17 PM Anonymous Says:

he's just trying to create a "kulo Koidesh" environment for those that appreciate that, I understand. But why boycott and force it down everyone's throat!? Maybe we're not on such a "hechere darga"?!


 Sep 12, 2008 at 05:15 PM snubbed student Says:

I do agree with him that we have no need in jewish music for electric guitars , saxaphones and the drummer being the loudest piece in the band. I went to wedding in Israel that had only regular guitars,a fluit, a bongo, a keyboard and electric violin and it was the best band I ever heard at a wedding. Also the first and only time I went home from a wedding without a headache


 Sep 12, 2008 at 05:20 PM r' yid Says:

ladies a gentlemen.. I will now present you with the 2009 luchos..
lo' listen to good music
lo' eating strawberries
lo' wearing normal sheitlech
lo' concerts
lo' drinking tap water
lo' eating eggs
yes' molesters
lo' hotlines
lo' eruv
lo' bike lanes


 Sep 12, 2008 at 05:18 PM Zak Says:

Someone ought to tell him that the saxophone is a 'luft' instrument.


 Sep 12, 2008 at 05:44 PM be happy Says:

lipa is allways making news

keep it up


 Sep 12, 2008 at 06:07 PM Anonymous Says:

it is a wonderful thing that the "rabbis" care so much about what music we listen to, it would be nice if they cared so much about child molesters and thieves.


 Sep 12, 2008 at 06:37 PM Anonymous Says:

snubbed student,

Your complaint basically relates to the volume. That can be controlled with the current instruments.

I don't see any reason to prohibit any type of instrument.

I've heard maamorei chazal that music is not mekabel tumah.

We are all also familiar with the story of the Rebbe who took a niggun from a goyishe peasant.

What mekor is there in chazal for these chadoshim mekorov bau chumros?


 Sep 12, 2008 at 06:27 PM formely frum Says:

I have come to conclusion from this story and other recent idiocy that the heridiem have completely lost their minds and do not represent Judaism and they are NOT Jewish in the Torah sense.
Maybe in the rabbinic sense and i question that too

News item

A frum yid was involved in a hit and run, police arrested him look up vin, the other person dies.

Look at the comments people left why are they going after the yid-must be antisemitism, the goy most likely drunk and wearing black (funny a don't think frum people wear very bright clothing) Lets daven for the frum yid so nothing happens to him. He is a good soul my hashem protect him.

Not one, not even one until me did anybody say it is really a shame that mr Torres died my hashem help his family or we should collect some money for his funeral.

Sick sick sick, I am not saying it was not an accident most likely it was but to have no compassion at all to the other (goy) person in sickening and revolting. And to slam him, he was drunk without any evidence is... sorry I cannot think of a word strong enough

The next time i meet my frum Friends and or family and they ask when will you come back to Judaism (I am agnostic now) I will say maybe I will one day and i want to be true to the Torah so I will become reform or conservative. Because what you are is not as based on the Torah, and you really do not keep any of the Torah laws. (there is so much in the Torah about compassion to all and aninaml
You are some bazaar very very selfish cult.

another example

Even, lets take bikur cholem that go around to sick jews. Would it be so hard for them when they go visit a yid and a non Jew is in the next bed to say hello how are you do you need anything?

They never ever do it? Why


 Sep 13, 2008 at 09:00 PM Anonymous Says:

im sick of these negative rabbonim always looking to squeeze people of their joy. i lost my respect for these types of rabbonim. why do they have so much negative depresion, misery. what type of example does this convey to my kids?


 Sep 13, 2008 at 08:36 PM self proclaimed askan aka Luft Says:

Anonymous Says:
Rabbi luft is addresing a very serious problem in the ortodox community, well admired rabanim, roshe yeshivos, menahalim from chasidishe and litvishe schools alike are finding themselves climing against a wall to fight this major critical problem that is ruining heilige yidishe boys, any one who argues against this matter has absolutley no understanding of the power and bad influence of the music hitting our communities. Chazak V'amats Rabbi Luft you are a Hero its time already to do something about this You will be acknoledged as a big mezakei horabim when the day of moshiach will arrive shortly and the sheker will be gone.
09-12-2008 - 3:57 PM
Hey mr. Anon . This music issue can not be worse then the internet, can it now? So i suggest you close your laptop , throw it out your window and go into hiding and do teshva . It is ellul after all.
You hypocrite what you are.


 Sep 13, 2008 at 09:58 PM chaim36 Says:

RE; Joe and Snubbed student....If the music were played at normal sound levels this issue would never have been raised.It is the loudness that causes us harm in a spiritual sense as emulating the goyim.


 Sep 13, 2008 at 11:19 PM Tzoorba Says:

Anonymous 9 PM

You've got it all wrong. The legitimate rabbonim don't care for these far fetched chumras.

There are misguided kanoim who come up with these things and falsely publish this in the name of the rabbonim.


 Sep 13, 2008 at 10:52 PM mikey Says:

Who appointed this air (luft) head the guardian of our ears.
There were Rabbis many moons ago who wanted to ban the Chazunish music he supports because it was based on Goyish OPERA

Go into almost any Chassidic Rebbes shul and many many nigunim are from Goyish marching music or goyish Umpah drinking band music.

Any ban of modern music will cause more "kids at risk" - if there aren't small stress outlets people find bigger outlets.

It is amazing how these ignorant Taliban jerks are telling people what to do and there will be bigger dopes who listen to him.

There are real problems around - like religious jews not voting or putting blank ballots - in Israel - which is what got Sharon/Olmert elected to start with. Deal with real problems not name up fake stupidity.


 Sep 13, 2008 at 11:41 PM Anonymous Says:

Someone get this guy back into his time machine so he could get back to the era from which he came.


 Sep 13, 2008 at 11:58 PM Shirat Rosh Says:

Perhaps someone should tell this Luft-mensche why we light candles on Friday night and make a special Brocha. It's because the tzedokim and their ilk took the posuk "Lo sivaaru aish bechol moshvosaichem" so literally that they sat in dark houses eating cold food all Shabbos. Rabbinic Judaism strongly dissented and insisted that Shabbos must be a day of simcha...so we MUST light candles and we must eat warm food on Shabbos. The Luftmensch's position has been discredited by halacha and by history.

Moreover if you listen to many of our venerable old chasidiche nigunim you will recognize that they are entirely derivative of contemporary musical styles ... you can hear Viennese waltzes and stirring marches... to say nothing of the common Ahkenazic tunes to Maoz Tzur, Ayn Kailokenu, Adon Olam and Shalom Aleichem.


 Sep 14, 2008 at 12:29 AM gavald Says:

Its d month of elul now talking on rabunim is a shpill with fire


 Sep 14, 2008 at 01:21 AM in the know Says:

Just lok into this luft air guy`s past. Its no wonder he wants fame.
He`s a known swindler and thug and works for the vad hatznius quietly


 Sep 14, 2008 at 01:56 AM oy vey Says:

"the answer my friend blowin in the wind" its just blowin in the wind


 Sep 14, 2008 at 01:55 AM oy vey Says:

theres rythmic music and melodic music. rythmic awakins our primal side and melodic touches our soul. (rambam, ari zal, r' Nachman etc). i have heard (2nd hand) from a gadol hador (i will not name) that we could learn somthing from all music across the board. we simply have to have the sense of which music is bad for us. i could say that lack of good music is what started me on "other music" 20 years ago. now there all styles in the frum world...why stunt its growth?


 Sep 14, 2008 at 10:01 AM FinVeeNemtMenSeichel Says:

there is nothing in bnei brak that is not extreme. its not even normal how sweet, friendly and yes, holy, the yidden there are. but the kanoim there...fuggedaboudit.


 Sep 15, 2008 at 07:30 PM Library Lover Says:

This is just another Rabbi with an agenda, to make himself a godol' in the eyes of the ignorant.
First, if this is so bad, why is is that so many BECAME frum listening to MEGAMA or DIASPORA? If not for these 'negative' sounds, we swould have lost so many Jews...
Secondly, many 'old' songs. such as blowin in the wind, do have moral, pure messages, and the tunes sound Jewish, since many of these composers are Jews, albeit non-religious, which is why it speaks to the neshama in the first place!!
And PS, Kol Nidrei, isnt gonna be played at my kids weddings..how about yours, Rabbi Luft? Ashes and sackcloth, anyone???


 Sep 17, 2008 at 03:22 PM tani p. Says:

Someone should force Rabbi Luft to listen to John Zorn's entire catalog.


 Sep 25, 2008 at 06:11 PM Heshy @ Reality Shock Says:

Or how about subjecting R' Luft to a few minutes of Lou Reed's "Metal Machine Music." I'm sure he'll appreciate those feiner niggunim fun a feiner Yid.


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