Controversy around Yiddish album featuring La Isla Bonita cover
Album by Bnei Brak rappers featuring Yiddish versions to pop songs by Madonna, 50 Cent prompts boycott by rabbis, despite enormous popularity
Two haredi musicians from Bnei Brak recorded a Yiddish cover album giving international hits a strictly-Orthodox twist by using lyrics that bear a religious meaning.
The album, titled Rap in Yiddish, was recorded in the United States and quickly became a smash hit among the community.
Covers of Madonna’s “La Isla Bonita” and 50 Cent’s “In da Club” can be found on the album. The Bnei Brak boys did not leave out Israeli creation and the piece “Tnu lo chance” (give him a chance) by the local trio Ma Kashur can also be found in a more religious version.
The success the album has achieved overseas has not yet hit Israel. One of the reasons for this is the rabbis’ strong opposition of the use of tunes that are unacceptable in the haredi world.
On a front-page ad published in the haredi newspaper Hamodia over the weekend, rabbis spoke out against the album and praised distributors who had agreed not to sell the record in the Holy Land.
“It has been brought to our attention that a CD has been produced in the United States that is slowly penetrating the Holy Land by CD burning and other methods,” the announcement said. “Since the disc contains melodies that are very foreign to us, and that should not be allowed to enter our realm, under Yiddish and Hasidic cover, we have contacted our Yeshiva students and informed them that according to our holy Torah, they are forbidden to market this disc and must put an end to its distribution immediately.”
“To their credit it should be stated that despite their great investments, they have taken the Torah upon themselves and have committed to us to accept the above and in the glory of God they will be blessed and overjoyed in the happiness of Israel for the purity of what is holy and will experience happiness, peace and success.”
It appears, however, that the local haredi music industry refuses to give up the treasure very easily. Haim Hazin of Hindik Productions has already bought the master demo of the new album and hopes to begin distributing it in Israel soon.
Last Thursday, the rabbis that have signed the petition against the duo convened for an urgent discussion on whether to permit the selling of the album. One of the proposals was to brand the albums with a sticker, “Not for sale to haredim.”
According to Hazin, “The CD’s distribution is currently in negotiations. The rabbis suggested that we remove several songs from the album, but we refused. Of course we have no interest in violating the rabbis’ rulings, and we will try to meet them half way.”
Hazing said that several large music companies have already approached him with an offer for exclusive marketing. “The orders in stores have already reached nearly 10,000, and many teens have obtained the album in MP3 format. The rabbis’ idea to ban people from listening to the CD is a decree the public cannot withstand,” he stated.