Aug 25, 2010

Just say Shwekey is like Arik Einstein

I am not sure what the Haredi leadership has against Yaakov Shwekey, but they seem to be gunning for him with no let up.

The only thing I can think of is that he has refused to follow their rules, so they feel they have to assert their authority over him, by hook or by crook. Besides that I cannot think of another reason why they seem to be infatuated by him and continue fighting with him.

What they should be doing is making a statement saying We do not care what Yaakov Shwekey does. he is not one of us. He is not part of the Haredi community, and for sure not the Israeli Haredi community, he is not giving concerts for the Haredi community, and we therefore do not care what he does, just like we don't protest every time Arik Einstein or Teapaks hold a concert. In light of that, they would, or should, say, we are telling our community to not be swayed by his entertaining performances or his advertisements, and our people, members of the Haredi community, should not attend his concerts, and should not buy his disks. We will not support a non-haredi singer, and going to his concerts is inappropriate for our community.

Then they should drop it, and treat him like anyone else.

He doesnt advertise his concerts in the haredi media, and he does not target the haredi community when publicizing his concerts. So why they are hounding him every time he makes a concert is illogical.

The most recent is a concert that is scheduled for Rehovot. Rehovot is a very diverse city, and while some haredim live there, it is not a haredi city - not even close. It is mostly secular and traditional, with a strong dati community and a fair share of a haredi community.

First, Meier Porush, the MK, decided to get involved to try to get the concert canceled. Porush called the haredi mayor of Rehovot (he is mayor despite being haredi, not because he is haredi) and tried to pressure him to cancel the show. he said if a haredi mayor in Rehovot will allow it to continue, how will we stop it in Jerusalem... Malul the mayor refused to intervene.

Then the Chief Rabbi of Rehovot, Rabbi Simcha Kook, a very respected rav, decided, or was implored, to intervene. He called up Shwekey and supposedly demanded that Shwekey cancel the concert. Shwekey refused saying his rabbonim in America allow him to hold concerts, even with mixed seating, as long as there is no mixed dancing, as per the psak of Rav Moshe Feinstein zt"l. The concert will even have a separate seating section for those who prefer it, so nobody should be upset.

Rav Kook is now saying that not only did Shwekey refuse to back down, but he even lied to him. He says Shwekey claimed that Rav Reuven Feinstein allows him to perform. Rav Kook says as soon as Shwekey told him that on the phone, he called Rav Reuven Feinstein who responded that he has heard of Shwekey but is not his rav, they have never met, and he never gave him such a hetter.

Rav Kook tried to confront Shwekey again with proof of his lie, but couldn't get hold of him.

Rav Kook also said it is not just the concert, but the concept of holding a concert in advance of releasing a disk for the main purpose of promoting the disk is passul. He will sing the songs in the concert and that will cause people to buy his disk. I am not sure why there is something wrong with this, but that is what he said.

Stop attacking Shwekey. It looks so bad and leaves such a bad taste in the mouths of many - they take away all options of entertainment, while at the same time seemingly just trying to control everybody (whether that is a true assessment or not, that is what it seems to be to many and many are upset), and there is so many other issues that need attention... Let him be. Solve the problem by saying he is not haredi, and just like we don't go to Arik Einstein concerts we also don't go to Shwekey concerts. And then ignore him. Let him give his concerts for the non-haredi public and life goes on.

Kikar now has a new piece in the puzzle that just adds to the story.

Rav Amnon Yitzchak went to Rav Shteinman and described how these "Hassidic singers" like Shwekey are all horrible people who cause the public to sin. He described how he is leading a fight against them and he has people breaking the disks of these singers, by the thousands.

Rav Shteinman asked "Is he secular?" and Rav Amnon Yitzchak responded that no, he is religious, a religious house, he used to learn in the Lakewood Kollel, and there are a number of such performers that everyone listens to. There is no house in the religious world that doesnt have his disks.

Rav Shteinman smiled and said "I dont have his disks".

Rav Shteinman wished him well and that his fight should help, to which Rav Yitzchak responded that he will succeed because when one fights to the end, it always is successful.


  1. Besides being popular in all the charedi world, his nigunim fit the charedi standards:soul music, no "wild" music, appropriate wording. His music is "kosher"
    So they cant just dismiss him like Arik Einstein or Teapaks.
    The more he looks and acts like you the more you have to make sure to warn people off who might be easily influenced.
    It is the same with Rappoport. their similarity to the mainstream charedi makes them more "dangerous". You have to attack them more harshly. The least dangerous person for the charedim is the anti-religious left-wing guy.It is not difficult to distance oneself from him.

  2. Garnel IronheartAugust 25, 2010 2:15 PM

    This is why I stick with Mashina and Ethnix. I'm willing to bet Rav Shteinman doesn't have their discs either. (Or anyone elses, come to think of it)

  3. sorry, I prefer hadag nachash (just not their logo) :)

  4. I am waiting to they assur up this guy, he is really good.

  5. I think that the bottom line is that the non-Haredi/Modern Orthodox/dati-Leumi community is viewed in Haredi circles as a big threat to them -it is a viable alternative to the hareidi lifestyle which with its own Rabbonim/Poskim/institutions where a person can be very fulfilled without all the shtick. People in Kippot (who overwhelmingly work for a living and identify as proud Jews)enjoying a concert by a frum singer whose songs are uplifting and all based on religious themes is not something the haredim can stand.

  6. Rafi, thanks for the post. It's always nice to see new recipes: Roasted Shwekey by Chef Yitzhak--just make sure to add plenty of nuts. I guess it's back to the Bee Gees for us, isn't it? Or maybe something more wholesome like the Partridge Family. I'm actually hoping Chef Yitzhak will listen to Aimee Mann and Wise UP.

  7. I'm just waiting for someone to bring the case of Etti Ankri to the Gedolim ;)

    In the meantime, here are two minor controversies she's engendered. The first is over her mini-series עניין של חינוך for Hidabroot:

    A complaint to the site, and a lovely response from one of its Rabbanim:

    An appreciation of the response, from a fan of Ankri:

    A self-righteous rejection of the response, and a response to it:

    And here's an article by חנה פנחסי about a ruling by אלון שבות Rabbis on a concert she gave a year ago there:,7340,L-3785185,00.html

    Here's a clip of her singing her great classic רואה לך בעינים with Alma Zohar on Tu Be'Av, at the Festival of Love and Tanach:


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