June 21, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

‘B’Yadcha’: A Tribute to Donny Morris, z”l, by Rinas Amcha

 

Beautifully blended and somber, the melody and lyrics of “B’Yadcha” genuinely elicit the composers’ elevated spiritual message of this mesmerizing musical tribute. The dulcet vocals of former camp and zemirot buddies Ben Antosofksy, Yaakov Fuchs and Dovid Mandel, now the established musical group Rinas Amcha, resonate with meaning and depth in their rendition of this heartfelt musical piece.

But more importantly, said Fuchs, one of the composers of both the lyrics and the musical score, along with Mandel, it represents what Donny Morris, z”l, was in life to his family and friends: an elevated spiritual soul. And with Donny, you were one or the other—or both.

The untimely loss of eighteen year old Bergenfield, NJ resident Donny Morris took place in Israel in May 2021. He was one of 45 lives tragically lost during a massive gathering at one of Israel’s holiest locations, during the holiday of Lag B’Omer on Mount Meron.

The tragedy occurred in an over-crowded, undersized area, when hundreds of people were subjected to a domino-like effect falling atop one another and unable to escape.
 

Fuchs said he met Donny in yeshiva the year before he died. “Because of the nature of the year, COVID and capsules, I never got the opportunity to become close friends with him, but we were very friendly throughout the year. I especially enjoyed cracking jokes with him because he was so easy to get to laugh.” Antosofsky attended summer camp with Donny, and Mandel was also in yeshiva with him.

Fuchs said that it was his disbelief and denial combined with clarity in the moment of “Kriyat Shema Al Hamita” a prayer sung traditionally on Shabbat night that inspired the lyrics, which are recited at the end of the tefillah. He shared, “The reason we release music is to inspire and uplift people in their relationship with Hashem with our compositions. Releasing this song was with the goal of giving some minuscule form of comfort and chizuk (inspiration) to all of us who so badly needed it after Donny passed away, and to give over the feeling of remembering Hashem in times of darkness and despair. We understand that Hashem gave us talent, a platform and an opportunity to give strength to other people, and that thought alone is tremendously humbling—knowing that your music can create such an impact on others.”

Fuchs commented quietly that there is time for everything, and that moment was to acknowledge, but not act. “Immediately following Donny’s passing, the idea came to our heads, but we just didn’t feel it was the appropriate time to bring it up to one another.” However, two days later on Shabbat during the day “…we all agreed that we needed to compose and record the song as quickly as possible. Generally speaking, the most meaningful compositions come from deep places, not just from the keys on the piano. While we sat by a piano to write the song, we actually only came up with the tune while sitting by ourselves, with eyes closed, just humming. So, on Motzei Shabbos we contacted our producer, and a week later we were in Yerushalayim recording.”

Fuchs credits Yehuda Levi with producing the track and Zev Becker with the musical arrangement.

Fuchs also related that the last two lines of the lyrics are pesukim that represent Donny’s Hebrew name, Nachman Doniel, נר ה׳ נשמת אדם—this is the beginning of a pasuk, “Our souls are God’s candle, His Light.” דרשו את ה׳ וחיו—this is the beginning of another pasuk, “Seek out God and live.” The first letters of these two pesukim are the initials, or roshei teivot, of Donny’s name, נחמן דניאל.

To view the music video, go to https://youtu.be/Ap0HKTZVxhQ

By Ellie Wolf

 

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