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    The career of Sheya Mendlowitz is one of great magnitude. His name is prominently
    displayed on hundreds of stereophonic systems, tapes, cassettes, and compact discs. He was
    the first to combine a fundraising affair with a musical celebration. He is the essence of
    everything professional. From the start, Camp HASC and Sheya Mendlowitz were hooked
    together, behaving like partners, soulmates, and steadfast friends. The strongest bonds, of
    course, were the children. He is the creator of the HASC “A Time for Music” concerts.
    This year, the Camp HASC concert producer, Eli Gerstner, decided to honor the legendary
    Jewish music producer Sheya Mendlowitz for all the great work he has done for Camp
    HASC. Last week, Ari Hirsch from The Vues had the honor to interview Sheya to discuss
    the Camp HASC concert, his career, and numerous other topics.

    Walk us through the idea of year 1. How
    did the Camp HASC concert come to
    My family’s first encounter with Camp
    HASC was on the Sunday prior to the
    beginning of the three weeks in the
    summer of 1987. My friend, Mordechai
    Ben David Werdyger (MBD) and his
    wife Rebbitzen Esther Werdyger called
    to invite me to come and participate in a
    mitzvah he did the year before, singing
    for special children in this special camp.
    I must admit, at first I was reluctant to go.
    After spending a short period of time with
    the children, my mind was made up. There
    was no reason for any reluctance, just the
    Being in the music business, I have
    arranged and attended many concerts.
    None have ever been so unique and special.
    I was left in total awe and amazement.
    The response was overwhelming. When
    we pulled into the driveway the whole
    camp was waiting in the parking lot. As
    Mordechai got out of the car, the children
    erupted with excitement and eagerness,
    which words can’t describe. We proceeded
    to the dining room where the concert was
    to take place. As the music started and

    Mordechai began to sing, the room started
    to shake, the energy which emanated from
    the room was great. At the end of the
    evening, I approached Mr. Moishe Kahn,
    the director of Camp HASC. I told him
    how much I had enjoyed the experience
    and asked if I could come to camp for a
    Shabbos with my family. His response was
    “Yes, of course, come any time.”
    I decided to go the following Shabbos
    Parshas Pinchas. It was love at first
    sight. Shabbos was filled with ruach and
    excitement. The Shabbos was inspirational
    from the beginning of Shalom Aleichem to
    the end of Havdolah. It was a Shabbos I
    will never forget.
    I told Moishe Kahn that he had an
    incredible camp, and that the work that
    they do for the kids and the parents is just
    as incredible. He then told me that this
    was likely going to be the last summer
    because the government was taking
    away their funding. The government
    felt that this was a luxury and the kids
    could attend schools at home. I said
    that he couldn’t close the place down
    and I had an idea. This is all while I had
    one foot in the car ready to go home. I
    proposed something that had never been

    done before- a gala benefit concert for
    the HASC Summer Program. Originally,
    it was supposed to
    be at the theater in
    Madison Square
    Garden but Ding
    suggested we have
    it at Lincoln Center.
    The rest is musical
    The first concert was
    January 17, 1988.
    Nearly 3,000 people
    gathered at Lincoln
    Center to participate in
    “A Time for Music.”
    Never before had
    such an undertaking
    been ventured under
    Jewish auspices. It
    was the first time
    that three Jewish
    superstars Mordechai
    Ben David,
    Avraham Fried, and
    Yoel Sharabi, had
    performed together on the same stage.
    Rivie and Leba Schwebel were involved
    from the beginning. The inspirational
    evening climaxed with spontaneous
    dancing on stage by Camp HASC
    counselors with Camp HASC directors
    Moishe and Shmuel Kahn together with
    Principal Rabbi Shlomo Stern. B”H it was
    a tremendous success!

    How does it make you feel that this show
    “A Time for Music” is still considered
    today the premier show in the world
    and that the funds from this concert still
    keep this amazing camp open?
    Hashem makes it that when people are
    successful it is because he puts the idea
    in their heads. I was chosen as a shaliach.

    Hashem put it into my head to give THEM
    this idea to help keep the camp open. And
    I wasn’t just producing
    the show, I was
    fundraising too, and I
    didn’t know anything
    about fundraising. I
    was flying around the
    world with Moishe
    Kahn helping him to
    make this happen.
    We went to anyone I
    knew who I thought
    could help out. So
    even though I’m not
    involved anymore
    with the production
    of this show, it’s still
    benefiting the children
    and the families so
    that Camp HASC can
    stay open. I hope that
    it’s a zechus upstairs
    in shamayim for me
    and everyone involved
    ad meah v’esrim. I’m
    very proud of it. I’m glad that the people
    who have taken over production of the
    show and the entire camp are doing good
    things with their success. Chairman of the
    Board of Camp HASC, Jeremy Strauss,
    who now took over the reins, was a young
    staff member when I was involved. I’m
    glad we’ve inspired others to do good
    things. It’s not just about music, it’s about
    using music as a vehicle to do good and
    inspire. It’s an outlet for the children and

    the families of the children to have a well-
    deserved respite. The Chairman of the

    Board, Jeremy Strauss, is a person that
    continues to set an example of chesed and
    tzedakah without any fanfare. He makes
    it look easy, even though it’s extremely

    What do you think about Eli Gerstner
    as a producer?
    First of all, I like Eli Gerstner a lot. He’s
    a big Tzadik. He’s a young man that is
    very talented and B”H very successful.
    I’ve worked with him in the past and I’ve
    enjoyed working with him very much. I
    wish him continued success. I appreciate
    very much that he (& Jeremy) disposed
    on me this honor at this year’s Camp
    HASC concert.

    How is the Camp HASC concert #30
    going to be remembered?
    I’m in the dark about most of it, so I’m
    not sure! The nature of being in the
    entertainment business is that you have to
    be somewhat in the public eye, but that’s
    something I don’t like. One of my first
    productions that I did was an Avraham
    Fried concert. I didn’t put my name on the
    front cover. My mother a”h said to me,

    “If this is what you want to do for your
    parnasa, you NEED to put your name on
    the cover so that people know who was
    responsible for this product.” I’m telling
    you this because of course you want
    Hakaras Hatov for the things you’ve done,
    and you want to be recognized for what
    you’ve done, but the whole honor thing is
    really not my thing. It’s nice of them to do
    and I’m sure it will be a success because
    it’s in capable hands. Just as we said at
    the first concert, it’s going to be a special
    evening for special people.

    How many Camp HASC concerts have
    you actually produced?
    I think 15. I took a break and did the first
    two Ohel Shows and then Ding continued,
    but after a few years I went back and did
    more. The last Camp HASC concert I
    produced was A Time for Music-18.

    Did you ever do what Eli [Gerstner]
    is doing now and not announce the
    entertainers in advance?
    Yes, numerous times. If you’ve earned
    the reputation for doing the right thing,
    then it adds to the hype and makes the
    show more exciting.

    What inspired you to go into the Jewish
    music industry?
    As far back as I can remember I loved
    music. In Yeshiva, my second grade
    Rebbe was Rabbi Eli Teitlebaum a”h,
    who headed the original Pirchei Choir.
    I tried out, made it, and appeared on the
    fourth Pirchei Choir LP. I also sang on the
    Sdei Chemed albums. I was in touch with
    my Rebbe all the time, even until right
    before he passed away. Avraham Fried
    also sang for him, but he never wanted to
    become a superstar. But R’ Eli told him
    to send me a demo and I convinced him
    to give it a try. So that’s how that part of
    my career started. I come from a musical
    family; no one ever did it professionally
    but that’s what Hashem had in mind for

    Was Jewish music always your full
    time parnasa?
    I always did music as a main thing. I tried
    to leave it in the late 90’s when it became
    overwhelming to me, but I came back to

    Who was your favorite musician to
    work with?
    Most of the time I worked with the same
    group of musicians, Yisroel Lamm is one
    of my dearest friends, he was part of the
    original production team of the Camp
    HASC concert series.

    How has the Jewish music industry
    changed in the last 30 years?
    Like anything, with technology everything
    has changed. One thing I have tried to do
    is to preserve Jewish music. Everything is
    influenced by its surroundings and people
    try to take the rhythms of secular music
    and put Jewish words to it, but I wonder
    if that’s really Jewish music. So what I’ve
    tried to do is preserve the Jewish identity
    of the music. The stuff that’s lasted

    through time are the real old, old songs-
    the chasideshe stuff and the Carlebach

    stuff and the Modzitzer stuff, because if
    you take all the arrangements and extras
    out of it, you’re left with a beautiful, pure

    What are you doing now?
    I’ve been working on something for a
    while. It’s been a dream of mine and I
    hope to get it to the market soon.

    Is there anything else you would like to
    tell readers of The Jewish Vues?
    People say that they have a גוט feeling
    about something. But I would say I had
    a “Gut” feeling, a feeling from Hashem. I
    was zoche with Yisroel Lamm to put the
    first Jewish symphony orchestra on stage.
    Hashem let me realize all my dreams, and
    I still have some more, and I hope they
    become a reality. I hope that I have many
    more years left in Jewish music and that
    Hashem gives me the strength and the
    opportunity to contribute more to a field
    that I love so much!


    Born: Brooklyn, NY
    Age at the first HASC concert: 25
    Camp HASC concerts produced:15
    Sheya himself composed one of the
    most famous “Siman Tov U’mazel
    Tov” niggunim of all time (still sung
    at all simchas all over the world.)
    In 1979, Sheya co-produced the
    Amudei Sheish Boys choir LP, then
    solo produced the Amudei Sheish
    Wedding Album which followed
    in 1980 and was distributed by
    Menorah. Sheya credits the owner
    of Menorah distribution, Sol Tischler
    z”l, as being one of the reasons he
    succeeded, especially at his start.
    Sheya produced the first Avraham
    Fried album “No Jew Will Be Left
    Behind” in 1981.
    In 1981, Sheya produced his first
    concert at the Felt Forum in Madison
    Square Garden, also with Mordechai
    Ben David.
    Largest venue Sheya ever produced
    a show:
    Radio City Music Hall and

    Metropolitan Opera are the two
    most prestigious places in the world
    to produce music. He was zoche to
    produce in both. He’s also produced
    quite a few on his own in Israel but
    he’s worked on a lot of shows in
    Favorite Shlomo Carlebach a”h song:
    Almost everyone! Both Sheya and
    his father were good friends with
    Shlomo and they worked together
    on numerous projects.
    Favorite MBD song:
    Very hard to answer but probably
    Kah Ribon.
    Favorite Avraham Fried song:
    He loves all the songs from the first
    7 albums (because he produced
    Favorite Abie Rotenberg song:
    He loves all his D’veykus songs & Lev
    V’nefesh songs, especially Acheinu.
    Favorite Ben Zion Schenker a”h
    He was a master musician- we were
    all inspired by him- Mizmor L’Dovid.