With fame and fortune in sight, hundreds of Jewish men and boys have chosen to participate in the hottest singing competition reality series to showcase their vocal talents for a shot at stardom. The first reality show episode features the live auditions before a panel of music superstars and highlights the unique back-stories of various contestants vying for the Fourth Season Jewish Star title.
A record crowd turned out to audition for this year's A JewishStar, now in its fourth season and featuring an all-new format, as Jewish music hopefuls came from all over to compete in this one of a kind Jewish reality series.
Approximately two hundred people flocked to the Manhattan Beach Jewish Center to take their turn behind the microphone and hopefully make a positive impression on the celebrity judges, with an additional fifty video submissions sent in by those who live outside the metropolitan New York area.
"The turnout was unbelievable," said producer Danny Finkelman. "We had Syrians, Russians, religious Jews, non-religious Jews. We had people from New York, New Jersey, Montreal, Florida and Chicago. They sang Israeli songs, American, Jewish, old school, new school, hip hop, jazz, cantorial. While some contestants played piano and guitar, others beat-boxed."
Finkelman marveled at the staggering display of talent during the first round alone and described the mood at auditions as "electric".
"There were numerous times the judges found themselves crying," explained Finkelman. "Some of the time it was because they were laughing so hard. Other times it was because the moment was so emotional or worse yet, because they had to tell a contestant that he would be going home. "
Approximately fifty contestants were given the good news by Round One Judges Lipa Schmeltzer, Yeedle and Yehuda Solomon, who told them they were advancing to the next round. The judges, each of whom represents another facet of the very diverse Jewish music industry, also offered constructive criticism to the contestants following their auditions in an effort to help them further their Jewish music aspirations.
Hundreds of singers have taken part in A Jewish Star since its inaugural season in 2010 and the show has evolved from a simple singing contest featuring adults singing Chabad nigunim into a full-fledged production involving adults and children from all across the religious spectrum showcasing an impressive potpourri of Jewish music.
"There is so much holy, beautiful, incredible Jewish talent out there," said contest chairman Chezky Kaufteil. "AJewish Star wants to hear their stories and present their talents while at the same time finding and crowning the next Jewish star!"
The youngest contestant to audition was just seven years old, with the oldest a urologist in his seventies. Both advanced to the next round.
This year's all-new reality show format, with each episode being released online, will document the entire contest from the earliest live auditions, through each subsequent elimination round, until the contest's final moments when the winner is announced in front of a live audience.
"This is an idea that we tried to a lesser extent in season three," explained Executive Producer Yossi Soffer. "We showed videos of the contestants in their homes, in their everyday lives and audiences responded very enthusiastically to these clips."
"We are excited to be taking this idea and running with it, and we hope to gain an even larger following, particularly since this year's contest is aimed at a much larger segment of the Jewish community," added Executive Producer Mica Soffer.
Finkelman praised A Jewish Star for using the platform ofJewish music combined with the reality show format to connect with Jews from all across the religious spectrum.
"This is the most unbelievable tool of outreach to our youth," said Finkelman. "To see so many different communities represented on a single stage is inspiring."
Round Two of A Jewish Star took place on Thursday, February 28th, in Brooklyn. Round Three took place just four days later, narrowing the field of adult and junior competitors down to a total of just twelve contestants. All five rounds will be videotaped and produced as a one-of-a kind Jewish reality series to be aired online.
Both the adult and junior contest winners will receive two tickets to Israel and their own music video. The junior winner will also receive a $1,000 cash prize with the adult winner taking home a $5,000 cash prize as well as A Jewish Starpackage to further advance his singing career.