Haredim Move to Eradicate ‘Foreign’ Pop

Matthew Wagner, Jerusalem Post, September 2, 2008

Musicians who use rock, rap, reggae and trance influences will not receive rabbinic approval for their CDs, nor will they be allowed to play in wedding halls under haredi kosher food supervision, according to a new, detailed list of guidelines drafted with rabbinical backing that differentiates between “kosher” and “treif” music.

The guidelines, which are still being formulated, also ban “2-4 beats and other rock and disco beats;” the “improper” use of electric bass, guitars and saxophones; and singing words from holy sources in a disrespectful, frivolous manner.

“Michael Jackson-style music has no place in our community,” says Mordechai Bloi, a senior member of the Guardians of Sanctity and Education, an organization based in Bnei Brak that enforces what it sees as normative haredi behavior.

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The man responsible for drafting the list is Rabbi Efraim Luft of Bnei Brak, who heads an organization called the Committee for Jewish Music. Luft works in conjunction with Bloi’s organization and with the Jerusalem-based Council for the Purity of the Camp headed by Rabbi Yitzhak Meir Safronovitch. These are the two most important and influential “modesty patrols” in the haredi community.

Bloi and Safronovitch have managed over the years to consolidate their power by successfully courting the backing of the major halachic authorities. A large portion of the haredi community, which numbers between 500,000 and 700,000, is loyal to its rabbis.

Calls by rabbis to boycott a business, to take to the streets to demonstrate or to vote for a particular candidate are taken seriously.

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Luft said that music is just part of a much larger problem in haredi society.

“We see that the same people who are involved in the treif pop scene are also the ones in the unapproved news media, in the so-called religious radio stations, in film and in advertising,” said Luft. “All of these things come together to demoralize haredi society and to lower the spiritual level of our youth.

“This is an issue that people over 30 understand very well what I am talking about and those under 30 have more difficulty understanding,” Luft continued. “This music is pushing into our community a generation gap similar to one created by the rock music of the ‘50s in the US. The whole idea is that there are types of music that have no place with respectable people. Respectable people listen to decent music and immoral people list to indecent music, and it does not make sense that a community that has high moral standards should be listening to this type of music.

“The influence of music has a very profound effect on people in general. It has been proven that rock music has a very negative effect on people and on animals and plants, while classical music has a very positive effect.”

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“There are certain types of music, such as rap and reggae, that are disgusting and have no place in our community.”

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