By T. Hartman

There’s no getting around it. We live in a frenetic world. Our work, families, social obligations, and even technological devices all vie persistently for our attention. In the daily race to fill obligations and complete tasks, when do we get a chance to take a breath?

When was the last time we had a chance to press pause and slow down life’s dizzying speed? When was the last time we were treated to an astonishing display of Heaven-bequeathed talent? When was the last time we let ourselves shut out the cacophony of life and indulge in the breathtaking mastery of stunning live music? When was the last time we shut out the hullabaloo and opened up our hearts and souls to something deeper and larger than ourselves?

On Monday, February 20, members of the Caring Hearts Club will experience all that, and more. That is when Jews from around the entire tri-state area are stopping the race of life for three hours and sixty seconds. When you have music luminaries such as world-class singer Mordechai Ben David, celebrated music arranger and composer Mona Rosenblum, Motti Ilowitz, the Shira Choir, wonder child Chaim Green, Mendy and Sruly Werdyger, and a 20-piece Israeli-American orchestra all converging together at one venue, it’s quite obvious why this is one break worth taking. Add in a soul-stirring bar mitzvah celebration for boys with special needs, showstopper lighting and special effects, multi-dimensional presentations, a father-and-son musical narrative, and a lavish buffet by Michael Schick, and you realize this is no ordinary event.

So is it a grand musical concert? No. Is it a dinner? No, again. So what is it? Second Chance is simply incomparable to anything you’ve experienced. Second Chance is an opportunity to experience a kaleidoscope of emotions through the media of stunning talent and creativity that Hashem bestowed upon humans. It’s a chance to engage your senses–physical, emotional, and spiritual–in a most transformative and meaningful way. And it’s a way of expanding your range of vision so that you can see the thousands of children in Israel who are waiting for a second chance.

This year marks 50 years since the establishment of Ichud Mosdos Gur, an empire of Torah and chesed in Eretz Yisrael. The Ichud’s scope of chesed has grown to enormous proportions, reaching every corner of the frum community in Eretz Yisrael. The Ichud proudly carries on the legacy of giving Yidden a second chance–a chance for learning-disabled boys to master Torah, a chance for hungry children to be properly nourished, a chance for struggling breadwinners to breathe easier, a chance for families with special children to live a normal life, a chance for children with disabilities to have meaningful lives, a chance for young orphans to build hopeful futures.

Yes, everyone deserves a chance. Second Chance, a project of Ichud Mosdos Gur, gives New York Yidden–members of the Caring Hearts Club–a chance to connect: connect with their inner selves, their emotions, and their brothers in Eretz Yisrael, and connect with their core essence, with the chesed that flickers in every Jewish heart.

Want to join the club? Seize the chance. Give thousands of children in Israel a second chance. You’re probably still wondering, “I still don’t understand what this is all about.” You’re right. You won’t truly understand until you’re there on February 20 at the NJPAC in Newark, New Jersey. You can spend time wondering what it’s all about, or you can join the club now and leave the wondering for later–because this is definitely one event of amazing wonders!

Three hours and sixty seconds. Three hours for the chance of a lifetime. And sixty seconds to give thousands of children a second chance. For more information, call 718-435-8989 or e-mail

As anticipation and suspense mounts for Second Chance, Hamodia interviewed Mona Rosenblum, legendary musical maestro, who is leading the musical performances at the event. Over the years, Mona has become a steadfast friend and partner in all of the Ichud’s activities. They say music is the language of the soul. No wonder Mona is so warmed and connected to chesed. After all, chesed, too, is an expression of the soul.

Q: Can you clue us in to some of the surprises in store for us at this event?

Mona: Well, if I were to reveal them now, they wouldn’t be surprises, right? But I’ll let you in on some of the secrets–the tip of the iceberg. First, we’re not talking only about musical performances here. We’re talking about a breathtaking combination of musical and visual masterwork, including cutting-edge pyrotechnical effects–which in simpler language means unique lighting effects.

One such performance is called the Kabbalas HaTorah Experience. When I did that at an Oz Vehadar Siyum Hashas, people told me afterwards that they felt a sense of awe. It’s not just a nice musical performance; it’s using music, light, and other media to transport the audience to a different time and place, to a different plane of existence.

Q: Are you bringing in musicians from Israel or will they be Americans?

Mona: Baruch Hashem, I have a lot of experience conducting and arranging concerts all over the world. The orchestra at Second Chance will comprise both Israeli and American musicians, which complicates rehearsals, but like I said–I’ve done such things dozens of times, so it doesn’t faze me. And by the way, the orchestra will consist of 20-plus instruments!

Q: What’s so unique about this event?

Mona: This is much more than a musical event. This is harnessing the power of music and talent to stir people’s emotions to an extent they never realized possible. When we’re connected with ourselves and the dazzling facets of our soul, that’s when we can connect with others–and give them the chance for a better future.

I have participated in many emotional events. But trust me when I say the bar mitzvahs that were held by Project Refuah [which is under Ichud Mosdos Gur] were the most emotional events I ever participated in! I simply could not hold back my tears. This theme of giving vulnerable children–the hungry, the learning-disabled, those with special needs, the orphans–the chance to live a happy, successful life is one that is woven into many of the musical masterpieces planned for the evening.

Another unique aspect of this event is that it is not just a performance that the audience watches and enjoys. It is an interactive experience between the people on stage and the people off stage. The audience is important because, if they want to be, they are part of the performance!

There’s another chance of a lifetime at the event: the chance to enter a raffle for a luxury apartment in the heart of Yerushalayim!

Q: Why was the NJPAC in New Jersey chosen as the venue?

Mona: We wanted a location accessible to Yidden from Boro Park, Flatbush, Williamsburg, Five Towns, Monsey, Lakewood, and more. And we’re expecting a very large crowd, so we needed the size of the NJPAC Center.

Q: Do you have anything else to share?

Mona: Just a piece of advice: Reserve your place now before it’s too late. You won’t have a second chance for this chance of a lifetime! And come with an open heart–your true Yiddishe hartz! v

Originally published in Hamodia.


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