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Chanukah Concert 2014: A Recap

A few weeks ago, on December 18th, on the third night of Chanukah, the annual YU Chanukah Concert took place in in its usual location, the Lamport Auditorium. Buses were provided from Lexington Avenue at the Stern campus to accommodate those coming from midtown Manhattan. Tickets were available for purchase for as low as $10 at one point, while some students were able to win free tickets through various raffles run by the Office of Student Life. Still, the biggest attraction was the performance itself. Thanks to the dedicated student leaders of the university - in conjunction with hard-working faculty members - YU was able to bring in Nissim Black, Shlock Rock, and Benny Friedman to perform on stage, while Neshoma Orchestra provided backup music.

Eventually, after the doors had opened and people flooded through the hallways and past the tables where YU apparel and Jewish music CDs were being sold, all took their seats, excitedly waiting for the opening act. Soon enough, Nissim Black burst onto the scene, attracting cheers from the audience. Throughout his act, a combination of impressive rapping and melodies that were booming through the auditorium speakers, he had the crowd waving its hands in the air in synchronization with his own hand-waving. At one point, as he took a short break, Black made mention of his family in the audience.

Following Black, Shlock Rock came onto the stage. Known for their ability to mix Jewish lyrics with secular tunes, the members of the famous group sang some of their signature songs, including fan-favorite “My Menorah.”  While some of the members on stage sang the lyrics, others played instruments such as the keyboard, drums, and trumpet. Both ladies and gentlemen in the crowd were standing up from their seats, singing aloud along with Shlock Rock.

Finally, after Shlock Rock’s performance had come to a close, it was time for the main performer of the evening. After enjoying the first two acts, people were anxiously awaiting Benny Friedman, one of the most well known Jewish singers in the industry. As he came onto the stage and started singing, people applauded in excitement. Friedman even took it upon himself to bring two students on stage to sing “B’sheim Hashem” along with him. The one song everybody especially wanted to hear, however, was “Yesh Tikvah,” as chants for the song began to develop. Like a true performer, Friedman capped off the concert by adhering to the request.

Given the hard work that was put into the concert by so many, it is no surprise that those who were present had a great time. Avishai Cohen, a junior who attended, pointed out that while he enjoyed all of the performers, Benny Freidman particularly stood out. “I had never heard of Benny Friedman prior to the YU concert advertisement,” he stated, “but his performance was electrifying and had the crowd on its feet.” Talia Stern, a senior at the Beren campus, also had encouraging things to say about the concert. To sum up the atmosphere, she mentioned that the concert provided people a chance to “let go a little bit, as they sang, danced, and enjoyed the music.”

Natan Szegedi, president of Yeshiva Student Union, who played in a role in organizing the event with many others in the student government, revealed that the concert took over “three months to plan” and had “over 700 attendees, which was a nice amount.” Shai Berman, another student leader on the Wilf campus, agreed with Natan’s assessment of the preparation, saying that “planning the concert was an immensely time consuming task.” It required “meetings about performers that started in September and that concluded before chagim, a whole confirmation process alongside preparing the ticketing website, and eventually a month long advertising campaign which involved promoting the event via social media, email blasts, and hanging up posters all over campus.” Members of student government, devoted to selling as many tickets as possible, even “tabled for a total of 5 hours a day in the two weeks leading up to the concert.” Commenting on the performers themselves, Natan said, “Although we didn’t know what to expect from Nissim Black, he kicked off the show very nicely. Everyone also loved Shlock Rock and Benny Friedman, especially some of their specific songs.”

It is clear that the many hours of work put into making this event a reality was worth it. Chanukah is a wonderful time for members of the university, as well as those in the broader Jewish community, to take time out of their busy lives and celebrate a monumental time in our nation’s history in an enjoyable way. The 2014 Chanukah Concert, as it usually does, allowed that to happen.  The only question that remains: what creative ideas will be implemented in next year’s Chanukah Concert? Only time will tell.