July 19, 2024
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July 19, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

It’s quiet these days in the Fink, Yaish, Wartelsky, Papier, and Schwartz homes. They are re-establishing their routines as the holiday season fades into the past. For these families, the holidays are about more than davening, fasting, Sukkahs, and candy. The holidays are about music!

“We were told we have six weeks off,” says Bena Shwartz. Bena, sounding a bit relieved, was referring to the next time that her son, Yaakov, has to be in Brooklyn. You see, each of the families noted above has a star in its midst, and the stars are all members of The Yeshiva Boys Choir. YBC has two major concert seasons, and they are Sukkot and Pesach. The month preceding the concert will find the boys practicing in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn at least one or two times per week with sessions lasting two hours or more. In addition, the boys may be working on a new video or CD for YBC, which requires more time in Brooklyn.

As you can imagine, all the schlepping to Brooklyn can be challenging for the Bergen County families. Hence, a carpool was formed. While the carpool has eased some of the stress, it can still be challenging. Chani Fink, whose son Yeshaya started with YBC in 4th grade, said, “Commuting can be very stressful. When it’s our turn, my husband rushes to get home early to be with the other children so I can drive.” However, Chani and the other moms noted the strain is harder on the boys than it is on them. Gytta Papier (mother of Moshe) said, “More of the strain is on him to juggle his school work and other responsibilities.” Hurried meals, reduced family time, and alternative homework schedules are the norm for the boys.

So, you may be wondering, why participate? Because the boys all love music and singing. Rayzel Yaish said of her son Ovadya, “He is always singing or humming. In school he had to be told not to sing at his desk.” Ovadaya says of his participating in YBC, “How many kids get to fulfill one of their life’s dreams at my age?” Chani said about Yeshaya, “He was always into music. Since he was 2 or 3, he was obsessed with YBC and would watch their CDs and sing their songs. So, for him being in the choir is like fulfilling a dream.” Randi Wartelsky said of her son DJ, “He sings all the time no matter where he is and loves to be surrounded by music.” She also added her belief that singing, in some capacity, will be in his future.

Beyond fulfilling musical dreams, the boys get so much more. Each of the moms talked about their boys gaining confidence from performing in front of large audiences, as well as being able to handle greater responsibility. Randi said of her son’s involvement with YBC, “He gains a tremendous amount of confidence and self-esteem. The stage is like his second home.” Rayzel says Ovadya has learned, “to handle being brave when trying out for solos.”

As you can imagine, some performances are more exciting than others. In fact, after a grueling Chol Hamoed schedule, one more performance might not be what the boys want to do. “By the last concert, he was tired and didn’t want to go, but he feels a sense of responsibility to the group,” said Chani of her son Yeshaya.

But for the moms and the families as a whole, it’s about nachas. And, oh boy, are these families getting nachas! “The very first time I saw him perform, I thought wow that’s my son. I felt such pride and emotion that he is doing something he likes. I couldn’t stop smiling,” said Gytta. Bena added about watching her son perform, “You learn things about your child that you hoped he had in him and are lucky to get a chance to see it.”

The performances also bring about nerves…for the moms. “When he’s up there, I’m nervous. I’m thinking I hope he gets it right. And when he does, it’s amazing,” said Randi.

The carpool has changed over the years as some Teaneck area kids have aged out. However, these five families have grown close with some together in the carpool for a few years. The common bond, which each mom noted, has helped them forge a relationship. “There’s a strong sense that we’re in this together,” said Bena. Randi added, “We get support from each other and are proud of each other’s boy. It’s a nice group.” They also form a cheering section. “We cheer for and compliment each other’s kids,” said Rayzel.

However, ultimately it’s about the boys, and they have formed a true bond. “Once you are in the carpool you are in the carpool family,” said Moshe Papier, who added he looks at the other boys as close friends. The boys have time to talk and bond over the car rides which Bena notes “are not at all quiet. They are always playing the Life Game App.” Randi added, “The boys have become great friends, get along really well, and the car ride is filled with private jokes.” Each of the moms noted that the carpool and choir in general have allowed their children to get to know people they might not have otherwise known. They also gushed about the support and genuine niceness of the kids. “The kids in Teaneck and Bergenfield are so nice. It’s fun for him to meet the boys who are such a good influence,” said Chani.

So, if you are driving along and you see a stressed out mom with five boys in the back, you may want to open your window and ask for a song. The Greater Teaneck area’s YBC contingent would be happy to oblige.

By Larry Bernstein

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