OutOfTowner reviews Benny and the Torah Kidz

CDs, General, Music, New Releases, Reviews — By on October 16, 2015 7:10 am



As long as I can remember I have always kept up with the new releases in the Jewish Music Industry. I enjoy new material and when I know in advance when albums are being released the anticipation will grow. When I saw a promo about a new kids album being released by Yerachmiel Begun I was mildly intrigued but not sure exactly what it would be. Not that I personally spend that much time listening to children albums, but since I do have children who do, I am always on the lookout for something they would enjoy. Part of the intrigue was what type of production it would be. Most children themed albums do not have the most sophisticated musical or vocal arrangements, but Yerachmiel Begun is well known to have that sophistication with the Miami Boys Choir. And then I got an email from the big JMR boss….”Hi, would you want to do a review of Benny & Torah Kidz, from Yerachmiel Begun?” Ok so now it’s a challenge. I decided that I would do something I’ve never done before. I would have others do my review for me! How could I accurately review something that’s not exactly targeting my age bracket? I got the album and after listening to it a few times saw that this is an album that really is unique. It is basically a combination of an Uncle Moishy album and a Miami Boys Choir album. The songs (some are original, some classics, and some are today’s most popular songs) have the musical sophistication we come to expect from Yerachmiel but at the same time with words that are catchy and educational. My only issue was that the song lyrics sounded a little too sophisticated for the age kids I thought would enjoy it. So I decided to enlist a veteran preschool teacher (the best out there….if she wasn’t my children’s mother she would have been their official teacher), her students, and my various age children. The immediate feedback I got from my wife was how amazing it was and how her students loved it. Some of the words were probably too hard for the 4 year olds but they definitely got the context of the songs and enough of the words that they would (and still are) be able to sing along. Next, it went into the car. The older children (over 10 years old) really weren’t into it themselves, but my 2 year old twins are so they have a good time entertaining their babies. I never thought I’d have a 2 year old know how to spell (let alone say) Echad…but it’s their favorite song and they can sing along! My 8 year old daughter has also enjoyed it immensely. Yerachmiel and his wife Shoshana write the lyrics and the four boys together with “Benny” (MBC Alumnus Yoshi Bender) do a great job singing and. It’s a well done, thought out and quality children’s album. Really I should stop here because my work is done, but that would be too easy. I will give a brief synopsis of the songs below.

Raise Your Torah Flag is a cute song about Simchas Torah. The lyrics are on the simpler side, which is perfect for the younger children.

Hashem is One uses the tune of Hashem Melech and as I mentioned before is so catchy that children who are barely 2 want to listen and sing along!

Mister Nister is a fun song about someone who does things quietly and out of the public eye but people know and see it anyways.

The next two songs deal with some of the daily routines we go through. Tomorrow is a song about saying Shema at night before going to sleep. Wake Up talks about how we should wake up in the morning and what we do right when we wake up in the morning.

The next two songs focus on Shabbos. The Shabbos Song has the makings of a classic Miami song. The tune, the tempo, and the harmonies. It describes the way everyone rushes to get ready for Shabbos and the tranquility (I think I might have learned that word from Miami’s Shabbos Yerushalayim album) Shabbos brings. The fast tempo gives the song a rushed feel. The Shabbos song uses the tune of the classic Shalom Aleichem and focuses on the menucha and specialness that Shabbos brings.

The Torah Songs is a medley of Torah Tziva, V’samachta, and Hashem is here (see I said there’s a little of Uncle Moishy in this album) with some of their own lyrics added. This medley is also a favorite of my little ones.

Chanukah is a song about Chanukah (that was pretty obvious). The song uses the tune of Old McDonald had a Farm and is very educational.

Mu Rabu/Wonders of Hashem discusses how special this world is and the ways of Hashem.

The final song is about Pesach and getting ready for Pesach.

In conclusion, if you have children, teach children, or want to relive your child years go ahead and buy this album. It is available anywhere quality Jewish Music is sold!

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  1. GPL says:

    This is a very high quality Jewish children’s album, and there are a few aspects which really sets it apart:

    * The singers have beautiful voices and the vocals and harmonies are very pleasant to listen to

    * The messages of the songs are positive and the lyrics do not talk down to children or come across as preachy

    * The kids come across as real and relatable, and Yerachmiel and Shoshana Begun were not afraid to portray kids with real human experiences (“I don’t want to go to sleep/wake up” ; I blew my last quarter on a candy”) and present Yiddishkeit in a friendly and accessible way “(“If you want to do a mitzvah that’s up to you”; “Wake up to do Hashem’s mitzvos AND have fun”) without shoving it down the kids’ throats. I think the best line of the entire album is “My child, I believe in you” from the song Tomorrow is Another Day. It’s the greatest thing a parent can say to his or her child, especially in a religious context.

    * The brief bios of the Torah kids mention their hobbies and family relationships which I think is very healthy.

    *The songs speak from the experience of the children, and promote excitement for Mitzvos and Yomim Tovim etc.

    While I bought the album for my kids, I find myself enjoying the songs with them and not cringing, as I so often do when listening to the other Jewish children’s music available. I certainly prefer the new songs over the traditional remakes, but overall this is a solid album and producers of Jewish children’s music should definitely take note.

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