04 November 2009

Actor/Singer/Comedian/Voice Over Artist

Without question, one of the most disturbing developments in our society over the past several years has been the complete dependence on immediate information. You can see this best at the transitional moments of human interaction in the city, namely, when people arrive at the subway station on their way to or from a destination.

Today was a beautiful autumn day. Taking my oldest to school, we could see the moon sinking in the sky, quietly giving way to the morning after a bright, industrious evenings lighting the heavens. The wind was gentle, the air clean and crisp. Mid-day I traveled into the city for lunch with an old teacher and as I gathered thoughts in anticipation, I was struck repeatedly by how down and determined were my fellow walkers, scurrying to the train, absorbing every last digital drop of information before their descent into the bowels of the city, where, in florescence they would travel deeper, darker, into the hand-held tools. It's sad. And pathetic, really.

This play repeated itself over and over--from Union Square to Washington Square Park and back again, on the 4 train, on the 6 train, on the Q train--it knows no demographic bounds. And then back in the neighborhood, the scramble to the hand, to the satellite connection, to that euphoric flood of information.

Outside Shul today CBS is shooting a scene for a TV show which features fictional Hasidic rabbis. I walked up to them and introduced myself as the "real" Rabbi of the Shul and one guy handed me his card, saying, "Oh, I'm a rabbi, too." His name is Elli, King of Broadway. And he's an actor/singer/comedian/voice over artist. "Oh, you teach here?" he asks.

Virtual world collided but I'm not sure anyone heard the sound. Generations ago, philosophers asked, "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?"

I thought of that when I answered this soon to be digitally broadcast "rabbi" standing in front of my Shul.

"Yeah, I teach" I said, "that's what rabbis do."


Amanda said...

And based on tonight...you also judge (Yore yore, Yadin yadin)!

tkob said...

Rabbi Andy,

I was just forwarded your blog post about me, and while P.T. Barnum’s quote, “There is no such thing as bad publicity” always applies, I feel the need to respond to you.

Being Lubavitcher Chasidic Jew, who is an Actor is sometimes hard to balance. Living in both worlds is a challenge and a responsibility.
Part of what I work VERY hard to do is to make sure that when TV/Film portray Jews, that it is as accurate as possible and that we are not made to look like bufoons as we have been portrayed in the past.

Hollywood has it’s own ideas of how we look and how we behave. In the past few years I have made a small contribution to having that ‘digital representation’ be a more honest one. I am humbled to be able to say, that because of my work, I have had scripts changed, wardrobes modified and dialog corrected.

Which brings me to your Blog post. Today, you set a perfect example of what I fight against.

To set your memory straight, when we met at close to 4pm, with all the children begin taken home from Public School - by both parents and nannies – we met. You introduced yourself as the Rabbi, then recognized one of the other actors and told us you had shown a short film he made to your students. I asked, “Where do you teach?”, thinking that you possibly taught at a Public School or a Jewish Day School. You told me that you teach, ‘here at the shul’. Your fictionalized encounter "Yeah, I teach" I said, "that's what rabbis do." Possibly happened in your mind but not in our actual conversation.

I hope you have a wonderful and meaningful Shabbos
and proud of it!

In addition to portraying a Rabbi on TV, I am a Rabbi, without quotes, in real life as well. I had the priveledge of a wonderfule education in the Tomchei Temimin Chabad Yeshivas. I learned together with the first group of Talmidim sent to Miami by the Lubavitcher Rebbe. I taught for over 15 years, opened a Chabad Center in South Miami, counseled both Adults and Youth, served the community in the field of Kashrus for over 35 years and operated the first Gan Yisroel Day Camp in the country to have Special Needs children.
I’m just saying…

See ya in the movies!

Andy Bachman said...

Hi Elli--thanks for writing. I actually did say, "that's what rabbis do" but given the noise of the kids and that you were in the middle of a shoot, you likely missed it. No big deal. Good Shabbos to you as well!