Long Island NCSY Roots Fest Uses Music To Inspire The Roots Of Jewish Teens

06 Mar 2008

Long Island NCSY Roots Fest Uses Music To Inspire The Roots Of Jewish Teens

Few things have the power to inspire people more than music. It has the ability to change someone’s mood, gladden a heavy heart, and offer solace on a lonely night – or on a long subway ride home. Therefore, the Long Island and New York Regions of NCSY will host Roots Fest, a music festival that includes six of the freshest bands in Jewish music: Yaakov Chesed, Aryeh Kuntsler, PHP, Gavriel Kahane, Sefarad and Aish Tamid. The concert will take place at Lawrence Middle School on -Saturday, March 15 at 9:00 pm. All proceeds will go to NCSY programming that targets Jewish “root” awareness.

NCSY, the national youth program of the Orthodox Union, provides educational and fun events for both observant and non-observant teenagers.
Because music is such an important outlet for so many teens, NCSY recognizes the importance of having quality Jewish music that’s teen-friendly. Many Jewish teens struggle with the decision to listen to Jewish music rather than secular music, which frequently contains inappropriate messages and lyrics, but is often better-produced and offers a more sophisticated sound than Jewish music.

One NCSY member commented, “When I have a break at school, I don’t feel like listening to Jewish music. Most of the songs either make me feel like I should be dancing the “Hora” or are very slow and make me feel like I need a Havdala candle. There needs to be Jewish music that bridges the gap between the massive difference of the secular and Jewish music out there.”

With this understanding, NCSY has been on the lookout for up-and-coming Jewish bands that have this balance. With the help of Yoni Glatt, a scout for the hottest talent in Jewish music, they have found it in bands such as Yaakov Chesed, Aryeh Kuntsler, PHP, Gavriel Kahane, Sefarad and Aish Tamid. The band members, all young adults, grew up listening to much of the same music that’s familiar to current high-schoolers. With that background, their musical expertise and their strong religious observance, they have managed to create music uplifting yet “user-friendly” for teens.

Dovid Weinberg of Jewish music bands Omek Hadavar and The Mishna Project said, “Musicians often become role models for teens. Therefore, it’s important to have bands they love compiled of people that are ideal role models, deeply rooted in their Judaism and excited about learning Torah.”

One such band that fits the bill is Yaakov Chesed. Their inspiring lyrics, set to their amazing sound, focus on Israel, G-d, growth and holiness. No band has taken the Jewish world by storm like Yaakov Chesed since Blue Fringe. In only two months since its release, the songs from their debut album, “Rise Above,” have had hundreds of downloads on iTunes. Teenagers are clearly the band’s most popular demographic, as Yaakov Chesed has the largest Facebook and Myspace following of any religious band on the scene. In addition to performing at Roots Fest, they will be sharing the stage with Yaakov Shwekey and Shalsheles at the Jerusalem United Concert on March 23rd in Manhattan.

Aryeh Kunstler is also a rising star in Jewish music. His debut album, “From the Depths,” has been released nation-wide, and has become a top seller for Sameach Music. With his one-of-a-kind talent in guitar, he is often approached to play with other bands including PHP, Levitikus, and Yaakov Chesed.

The lineup for Roots Fest features an eclectic mix of musical genres with the various bands playing alternative rock, ethnic Sfardi music, unique indie rock, jam tunes, and even a little rap. Some of the bands will team up for several songs, making for what will no doubt be a harmonic and exciting mix. With all the exciting performers scheduled to take the stage, everyone will walk away from the concert having a new favorite band.

Long Island and New York NCSY are pleased to host what will certainly be a memorable event.