Internationally famous cantor/actor Dudu Fisher once chose keeping the Sabbath rather than accepting an offer to perform on Broadway, he revealed on the IsraelNationalRadio's Walter’s World.
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"I'd like to be remembered as Dudu Fisher who sang for old and for young, who was like a bridge between religious and non-religious people, and who always kept the Sabbath," he explains.
After beginning his career as a Jewish cantor, known as a Chazzan in Hebrew, Fisher moved on to much greater stardom, in which he combined his talent for music and love of Judaism. He is recognized by children and adults, Jews and non-Jews alike.
Although he started as a Chazzan in Israel, Fisher has emerged as a diverse and world-famous artist issuing a DVD series for children and performing on Broadway--but never on the Sabbath.
His love for the Sabbath was tested after he visited London several years ago and saw the musical Les Miserables. "I knew that this was going to change my life…and it did," he relates.
He received a part in the musical but refused to accept the offer because it required him to perform on the Sabbath, in violation of Jewish law. The producer of the musical "came back to me after two years of fighting with the unions in America and said to me, 'You got the part.'" Fisher was the first actor on Broadway to be excused from performing on the Sabbath and Jewish holidays.
"If I sang for the Queen of England…it’s not even coming close to the feeling that I had when I said that I cannot sing on Shabbat," he adds.
If I sang for the Queen of England…it’s not even coming close to the feeling that I had when I said that I cannot sing on Shabbat.
He loves bringing Judaism to the public. His song "Bagan Shel Dudu" teaches basic concepts about Jewish practices and values, which he learned from his father. His parents moved from the Jewish ghetto in Poland to Israel in 1932. "I still remember my grandmother’s face above me singing,” he reminisces. It is fitting that his first work as a singer was as a Chazzan and that he continued this profession until he was 28. It was only after he was married and had returned from a short period in South Africa that Fisher, observing the decline of Cantorial music, turned to Chassidic music, the genre that took him to stardom.
"With Borachi Nafshi I won first prize in the Chassidic song festival. Once this was on TV, 90% of people saw you. The next morning you couldn’t walk out in the street because you became a star…that was it."
Throughout his career, Fisher has managed to combine his Judaism with his career, always keeping the Sabbath and kosher dietary laws while at the same time performing on Broadway shows and before heads of state. He has sung before the King of Thailand and the Queen of England, although she still takes back seat to his feeling of not singing on the Sabbath.
One of his most recent performances was singing HaTikva, the Israeli national anthem, at an exhibition basketball game this month between the New York Knicks and Maccabi Tel Aviv in Madison Square Garden.