08 Dec BEHIND THE MUSIC- EVERY SONG HAS A STORY: Q & A WITH RABBI YOEL GOLD
Name: Rabbi Yoel Gold
Family: Wife & four children
Grew up in: Williamsburg/Boro Park
Currently Lives in: Los Angeles
Job Title: Motivational Speaker and Founder of Hashkifa
Job Description: Turning people’s stories into a source of strength for others by sharing it with the world in a meaningful and impactful way.
Yeshivas Growing up: Bobov/Adelphia/Passaic
Favorite Storyteller growing up: Rabbi Paysach Krohn
Favorite All Time Rebbie: There are three Rebbeim who all had a profound influence on my life. Without any of those three I would not be who I am today. Reb Yerucham Shain Shlita. Rav Dovid Trenk zt”l, and Rav Naftali Stern zt”l.
Favorite Mesechta: Gittin
Rabbi Yoel Gold is a sought after motivational speaker, renowned throughout the world for his ability to impact and inspire. His passion for Torah and meaningful presentations have left their mark on countless audiences around the globe. Rabbi Gold is a ninth-grade Rebbe in Mesivta Birkas Yitzchok, a boys’ yeshiva high school in Southern California and a weekly columnist for the Ami Magazine. In addition, he served as Rabbi of Congregation Beis Naftali for five years. Now he travels the world, speaking to audiences of all backgrounds looking for inspiration. His videos have amassed close to 10 million views, and have been shown in schools and organizations across the spectrum. Behind the Music, an original film production by Rabbi Yoel Gold, reveals the backstory behind your favorite singers and their music. You will discover the stories that sparked world famous songs. It’s these stories that gave those songs context and infused those songs with feeling and emotion. Chanukah is a time of song and praise for the story and miracle we experienced as a nation. This Chanukah, 8 of the greatest composers and singers in our generation share the inspiration behind their music. Let’s step behind the scenes and connect to the heart and soul of Jewish music through their stories.
This past weekend Ari Hirsch from The Jewish Vues had the honor to interview Rabbi Gold.
What is the secret to a good story?
Someone once said before you write a book you have to become it. I say before you tell a story you have to live it. One of the most important secrets to a good story is passion. If you feel the story and lesson deeply, others will too. Personalize it and own it before you tell it.
How do you get all your stories?
At this point, I’m privileged to receive so many emails, texts and calls from people around the world who want to share their stories with me.
How did you become a storyteller/motivational speaker? How did it all begin?
My first speech I gave was when I was 18 years old at my older sister’s sheva brachos. I remember a yid who I was close to from my younger days in Bobov, R’ Chaim Shlomo Beigel, sat me down afterward and encouraged me to start speaking more often. I still remember that conversation because it planted a seed. Also, I always loved telling stories, when my kids were much younger I would tell them stories every night and when I first had the idea to do videos of people sharing their stories, my wife encouraged me to narrate them together with the protagonists. The rest is history.
How do you determine whether a story is a keeper?
If it moves me when I hear it, it will move others too.
What would you say is your most popular story? What story do people mention to you the most?
My first video still remains to be my most popular one. It’s about my wife’s aunt who davened for an Israeli soldier during Operation Protective Edge and then randomly bumped into him at a restaurant when she was visiting Israel. He was their waiter at the restaurant. He was so moved by the encounter and hearing how she davened for him that he started putting on Tefillin. Incredibly, when that video was released it got over 100,000 views in just 24 hours. And I received hundreds of emails about it, mostly from Christians who asked for the hotline that gives the names of Israeli soldiers. They wanted to pray for them.
How many times do you tell a story before you retire it?
Once I release a story on video and social media I usually never repeat that story again.
What do you consider your specialty?
Bringing stories to life in credible and professional ways.
What is the difference between a Rabbi Krohn story & a Rabbi Yoel Gold story? A Rabbi Frand story & a Rabbi Gold story? Do you look for a specific type of story?
There’s no difference in the style or types of stories we tell, the difference is in the format, they TELL the story we SHOW it on video. In fact, Rabbi Paysach Krohn, has helped me many times turn some of his greatest stories into videos. I’ve gotten to know him personally over the years and have the highest respect for him. He lives what he preaches. I aspire to that.
How often do you travel to speak publicly?
Before Corona hit, I would travel once a week to speak on a weekday and once a month for shabbos to be a scholar in residence in different cities around the country. Since Corona, I haven’t traveled outside of LA — it’s been a blessing because I got to spend so much quality time with my family.
Do you still get nervous before you speak?
Yes. Being nervous is good. It helps you focus. All those bottled up nerves gives you the adrenaline to deliver a more passionate and energetic presentation.
What’s your favorite part about your job?
Knowing that what I’m doing has a meaningful impact on people’s lives.
Have you written any books?
I’ve been writing a weekly column over the past four years for Ami Magazine. We are in the process of turning that into a book B”H.
What was your relationship with the famous mechanech Rabbi Trenk zt’l?
Rabbi Trenk zt’l was like a father to me. He believed in me more than I believed in myself. He cried with me in tough times and danced with me in happy times. He instilled in me a sense of confidence and optimism that I try to give to my own children now.
What was/is your relationship to the famous Jewish music producer Eli Gerstner?
When I came to Adelphia in 1996, I was just a freshman and Eli was a senior then. Eli was already beyond musically talented in high school. He played different instruments and already recorded songs as a teenager. I wanted to learn from him how to record so I went out and bought a four track mixer which I ended up trading him for something else. He still has that mixer. Lol. Eli and I were also chavrusas in second year Bais Medrash.
How often do you speak?
I don’t speak over zoom and don’t travel much these days. I’m more focused on producing videos and films that can inspire countless people around the world.
What is Hashkifa?
Hashkifa harnesses the power of storytelling and technology to touch and inspire today’s generation. It produces cutting edge video content in a current and engaging format, to communicate a plethora of Torah concepts and values through stories. Please tell everyone about your new video that is coming out this Chanukah about the story behind the song. Behind the Music, is a 72 minute riveting film production that reveals the backstory behind your favorite singers and their music. You will discover remarkable stories that sparked world famous songs. Often we listen to songs and we are moved by them — those feelings were usually generated by an experience or a story that happened to the singer or composer that ultimately expressed itself through song. It’s that story that gave the song context and it’s that story that made the song into what it is today.
What inspired you to do this particular video?
The stories were so moving and uplifting, I wanted to share that feeling with others.
Which story from this video do you think is going to get the most attention?
It’s hard to say. Each story is so unique and powerful. Each one is a labor of love to me. There are so many lessons to be learned from each story. I honestly think they all deserve equal attention.
How does someone view your new video?
Please go to our website HASHKIFA.com
What’s next for Rabbi Yoel Gold? What are you working on currently?
Our next film will feature the most remarkable stories about Shidduchim. Highlighting the incredible Yad Hashem that is obvious in every shidduch that happens or has yet to happen.
Is there anything that we did not discuss that you would like to mention?
Yes. It takes a village to raise a child and ensure that he grows up into a responsible adult. I couldn’t be where I’m today without the incredible care from my parents and so many countless others who took the time and made the effort to give me from themselves. I’m flooded with so many names and faces from throughout the years. I think about how grateful I am to each of them.
Who would you say are the top 3 story tellers all time?
Shlomo Carlebach, R’ Paysach Krohn, R’ Leib Keleman.
If you can have three dinner guests, anyone from the beginning of time, to your Friday night Shabbos table, who would you invite?
Yosef Hatzaddik. Dovid Hamelech & Raul Wallenberg.
What mitzvah gets you in a good mood?