|Clockwise from left are Pulse 5 members Yonatan Potash, Matan Mann, Joseph Horowitz, Ezra Koppel, and Jared Auslander. Lyn Ofrane Photography|
A boy band from Teaneck staged a concert on June 14 that raised more than $20,000 toward guitars, drums, percussion instruments, recording devices, and a sound system for the music therapy program at Emunah’s Bet Elazraki Children’s Home in Netanya, Israel, which houses 220 newborns to 17-year-olds from abusive backgrounds.
The bar-mitzvah-age musicians comprising Pulse 5 – Jared Auslander, Joseph Horowitz, Ezra Koppel, Matan Mann, and Yonatan Potash – worked with their private music teacher, Ben Hyman, for months before the event at Englewood’s Space Odyssey, and the boys’ parents solicited individual and local corporate sponsorships.
Five days later, on Father’s Day, Teaneck 12-year-old Eitan Sklar raised precisely $2,171.18 for Bet Elazraki through a yard sale.
The band members are all neighbors. Yonatan, Jared, and Ezra attend Yavneh Academy of Paramus, Joseph is a student at The Moriah School in Englewood, and Matan goes to Solomon Schechter Day School of Bergen County in New Milford.
“There are a lot of details to the story, since five boys are in the band and five families are behind them,” said Channa Potash, Yonatan’s mother. “Months of band practices, mom meetings, organizing, fundraising, etc., went into its success.”
The Space Odyssey’s owners, Elvira and Jim Grau, provided the venue and support staff at a steep discount and have offered to repeat the event next year. Bet Elazraki director Yehuda Kohn will pay tribute to Pulse 5 by dedicating the facility’s summer program to music.
Music teacher Hyman, 29, said that it was Joe Horowitz who suggested organizing a concert for charity as a bar mitzvah project. The idea quickly snowballed.
“The boys wanted [the beneficiary] to have something to do with children and music,” said Joe’s mother, Debbie Horowitz. Her inquiries to Emunah revealed a need for $10,000 for Bet Elazraki’s music therapy facilities. “It was a known entity that we felt would garner wide support, and Emunah set up an online link and gave us brochures.”
Photography, publicity, printing, and snacks were provided gratis by area businesses.
“The songs they chose were not typical ones that you hear 13-year-olds play,” said Hyman. The 11-song set list included numbers by Green Day, the Beatles, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Dropkick Murphey, AC/DC, Deep Purple, The Police, Oasis, and Michael Jackson – plus one classic Israeli tune, “Od Yavo Shalom” (“Peace Will Come”).
“We had a feeling that it might sell out, and that feeling turned out to be true as the night before the concert, we officially sold the room to capacity,” said Hyman. About 400 tickets were sold.
Matan’s mother, Aliza Mann, opened the show by introducing Emunah President Mindy Stein.
Jared Auslander is the first of the group to see Bet Elazraki in person, during his bar mitzvah trip to Israel this month. He said Pulse 5 is planning a graduation concert next year. Performing in front of a crowd doesn’t faze him anymore. “When you’re on the stage, you have to relax. Once the first song is done, you’re fine.”
Yard sale nets $2,000+
Additional funds are on their way to Bet Elazraki courtesy of a yard sale sponsored by Yeshiva of North Jersey student Eitan Sklar, 12. It all started with his Emunah charity box, explained his mother, Sariva Sklar.
“Rather than allowance, he gets merit money for good grades. He got $20 for getting a 100 on a difficult test and he rolled it up and put it in. We said he didn’t have to put in the whole amount, and he said, ‘I don’t need it, and they really do,’ even though he didn’t know a lot about Emunah.”
She asked Ronnie Faber, a local Emunah field representative, for a video so Eitan could learn more.
“I wanted to start my bar mitzvah year with a special project,” Eitan said. “My mom showed me an Emunah video of three adults, who were children at Bet Elazraki. They did not come from good homes, but when they came to Bet Elazraki to live, their lives changed for the better. Many of them are adults and have happy families of their own now.”
Eitan then asked what else he could do to help.
“Eitan really loves stuff, and we tried to orient that toward the positive, encouraging him to get rid of some of his stuff, and other people’s stuff, and give the revenues to Bet Elazraki,” said Sklar. Through the Teaneckshuls Yahoo group, they asked for donations of toys, books, handbags, and housewares. Then they placed newspaper ads for a week before the sale.
“We figured if he made $350 it would be great, but he wanted to raise $1,000,” said Sklar, noting that most shoppers at the sale were not Jewish. Because of the enthusiasm of the sales crew, she said, which also included the Sklars’ friend Linda Karasick and Eitan’s siblings and cousin, the total climbed to $2,171.18.
Eitan, who credited the success to his mother, said he modeled his pricing technique on the TV show “Pawn Stars.”
“If the person who gave [the item] to us had bought it for $10, I would say to the buyer, ‘Well, he bought it for $10, so how about you buy it for $5?’ And we’d settle on $3. I wasn’t going to fight over the price.”
Emunah President Stein came to the yard sale along with Executive Director Carol Sufian. “Eitan … accomplished what few adults could accomplish, and his desire to help those in need is an inspiration to all of us,” said Sufian.
Eitan hopes to visit Bet Elazraki next June in celebration of his bar mitzvah.