The producer of the banned Madison Square Garden Lipa Schmeltzer-Shlomie Gertner concert was on Zev Brenner's Talkline radio show last night.
He made many points. Most of them will be very familiar to those of you who followed the Slifkin Ban.
- Not one of the 33 rabbis ("gedolim") who signed the ban against the Madison Square Garden concert spoke with the producer or the artists before signing the ban against them.
- The rabbis who signed were duped by "people" – in this case, kanoim).
- Some of these rabbis are now trying to deal with the problems the ban created (first among which, I think, is that many haredim will ignore the ban).
- A number of the "people" who pushed for the ban did it to destroy Lipa Schmeltzer's career.
- Before the concert was publicized, and before the ban was made, the concert already had separate seating and entrances for men and women. No intermission was scheduled to curtail "mixing."
- "People" have been "terrorizing" Lipa Schmeltzer and his family.
The producer repeatedly urged listeners to listen to the rabbis and, in effect, said he would cancel the show if their ban stands.
The actual problem seems to be that Lipa Schmeltzer – who is, in part, a wedding jester – "made fun" of a rosh yeshiva during a performance.
I believe I saw a YouTube video of that performance. (YouTube is down at this time, so I can't link to it.)
On hol hamoed Passover, Schmeltzer is dressed in a fur hat and long black coat (he is, after all, a Squarer hasid). He starts singing a traditional hasidic niggun and then removes his fur hat and frock coat as he begins to sing and dance to a modern (haredi) Jewish song. The yeshiva students in attendance start to scream "Lipa! Lipa!.
This is apparently enough to count as "making fun" of rosh yeshivas and rebbes, and enough to get a concert banned, a career ruined and a producer made bankrupt.
Yeshiva World is reporting that Lipa Schmeltzer backed out of the concert over Shabbat. The producer says this is incorrect. Lipa's sister told Talkline that the concert is probably, but not definitely, off.
On Yeshiva World, Lipa Schmeltzer is quoted this way:
“I have recently started learning Bichavrusa with a leading Rosh Yeshiva, and I promised him that I will never sing any songs which were composed by non-Jews. Being true to my word, I have sang at more then a dozen Chasuna’s since I made that decision - and I have not sang “Yidden”, “Abi-Mileibt”, or “Numa” (Rabbi Nachman M’uman) or any other song that is questionable as to its origin”, Lipa told YWN.
“People should know that this Kol Koreh and ban against The Big Event was not directed at me personally, but at all concerts in general. The Rabbonim felt the need to put their foot down and attempt to stop all future concerts in NY.”
Interestingly, the ban was published in the Gerrer Rebbe-controlled Hamodia newspaper and a Ger hasid, Rabbi Yehuda Levin (Pat Buchanan's former Jewish liaison), called in to complain about Schmeltzer and the concert.
Concert hotline: 718-873-0888.