10 Dec The Story Behind the Thank You Hashem Campaign
HOW DID THE THANK YOU HASHEM CAMPAIGN BEGIN?
‘Thank You Hashem’ is a powerful sound bite. These simple words are a prayer, blessing, appreciation, sanctification, and expression of spiritual intimacy—all in one. Jews from all walks of life utter them in all life circumstances, finding meaning and strength in direct access to Hashem. Thank You Hashem is not a chiddush; it’s not a new thing and it’s certainly not something that I or my friends created. Before my son was born, I went to Tzfat with a couple of friends. We overheard someone say “relax, Thank You Hashem” and it hit us like a speeding train.
At that point in our lives, we were searching for a more meaningful connection. We didn’t have the relationship with Hashem that we so desperately desired. Those words just hit a spot I can’t explain to you. With just 10 minutes until Shabbos, we jumped up and ran to the Mikvah, and had an incredible Shabbos! We started saying “Thank You Hashem” as a “just a saying”, but it became a “thing that means everything to us.” We came back to America and all of our friends started saying “Thank you Hashem.” The night that my son Elimelech was born, we were sitting in the backyard with some friends and we were feeling very thankful towards the almighty. We wrote the hit song “Thank You Hashem.” We released a simple version at Elimelech’s bris with Moishy Storch. A couple of weeks later, Joey Newcomb heard the song and he really liked it. He told me that he was putting out an album and asked if I would mind if he could include our song. I told him it would be my pleasure. Together, we released the song featuring Moshe Stroch and produced by Doni Gross.
Then with what we Jews like to refer to it as Hasgacha Pratis, TYH took on a life of its own.
We then decided to make an Instagram account. I never had Instagram before. I didn’t know anything about it. Within a few months of making it, we had 10, followers and the feedback coming in was phenomenal, people from all walks of life began connecting with Hashem! People were really getting connected to it and realized the relationship they could have with Hashem. The more a person realizes every little thing comes from Hashem, the easier it is to feel Hashem loves you! My Rebbe, Rav Klueger, says a person has a Chiyuv every single day to spend 10 seconds repeating “Hashem loves me, Hashem wants me.” A person has to know that Hashem is his everything. We are only able to get that feeling through a relationship with Hashem. The way that relationship is built is through having gratitude. We all need to realize that all the things in our lives, the big things, little things, the things that we perceive as pros, the things that we perceive as cons, are all for the greater good. Now the Ikur Avoida, the ultimate purpose that we’re trying to achieve, is to become the greatest Jews we can be. As individuals we learn Torah, Halacha, ruchnius, not to speak Loshon Hora, davening, etc but sometimes we don’t focus enough on the relationship that one has to have with Hashem.
Hashem put us in this world and in order for Him to give us more, He wants us to feel a sense of gratitude. He is waiting to hear our praises. Let’s start focusing on the positivity. Yiddishkeit is not all about restrictions. We have to build a relationship with Hashem. Hashem has unconditional love for all his children there is nothing we can do to change that It’s the ultimate relationship anyone can ask for, that loves you, that watches and protects you. It’s a relationship that will never ever stop! I try to compare the relationship with Hashem with the relationship a grandchild has with his Zeide. A father has to punish a child, but a grandfather doesn’t want to do any of these things. The only reason he has to follow certain rules is because then your parents won’t let him see you again. All your grandfather wants to do is what’s good for you. There are times, however, when it seems that a grandfather is doing something that looks like a punishment. Same thing with the Ribono Shel Olam. The Ribono Shel Olam created us with good. He wants us to benefit; all He wants is for us to be successful. But because of the Yetzer Hora and the Yetzer Tov, because of Schar Ve’Onesh, Hashem has to do certain things which appear negative to us.
Our dream has always been to get the message to our Yeshivas. We just officially launched TYH for Yeshivas. We have a program in motion in partnership with the yeshivos to help us foster this core love of Hashem. We already had three or four schools that had a TYHashem day and now there’s a girls school with about students partaking in the program. Thank G-d it’s happening and children are connecting. If you are a yeshiva that would like to join, you can reach out to us at [email protected]
The feedback and stories from people is mindblowing. People are really connecting. There are people who aren’t religious and who won’t go anywhere without their “Thank you Hashem” bracelet and now say “Thank you Hashem” at least once a day! They never said it before, but now they like to say it. They feel Him and His “presence.” People are connecting. This is not an idea to replace anything. This is not an idea to say that this is better than anything. This is one thing, just one way, to connect to Hashem. It’s a bunch of balabatim, a bunch of guys, putting in the effort to recognize Hashem and everything He does for us on a daily basis. Our goal is to promote the relationship, for everyone to recognize how much Hashem loves each and every one of us. The more a person has a relationship with Hashem, the happier they’ll be. They’ll be a better parent, a better person, and a better yid.
We see a tremendous amount of Siyata Dishmaya and we just started. We’re going to continue doing more programs and obviously Joey Newcomb is a major component. He’s constantly promoting the song and Boruch Hashem it has over 65, views on Youtube. Little kids are singing it all day, and I think we’re really changing the world. I think this is the beginning of the redemption. I truly believe that we’re making a dent and one thing I can tell you for sure, thousands of people are saying “Thank You Hashem” that weren’t saying it before. Our mission is to ignite passion and pride in every Jew worldwide. To remind us all that Hashem exists in every single aspect of life. That He loves each of us in every situation, environment, and spiritual position. And that by saying His name with gratitude, we return His love every day.
Where does the money go from the swag? The money goes towards the upkeep of the mission, so we can keep rolling out new programs and initiatives. We started Thank you Hashem for Shabbos Kodesh which is in a weekly newsletter that focuses on the weeks parsha, with an overview, deep insights, and yurtzeit of the week in addition to Chassidus. It’s a beautiful newsletter that comes out weekly written by Reb Yaakov Klein from Eretz Yisroel. We do a weekly Shabbos Torah video by Rav Yussie Zakutinsky. We started a daily dose of inspiration with Rav Shmuel Reichman and we do daily quotes on Instagram. Money goes towards continuing to make more videos and more programs for schools. We donate a tremendous amount of swag to children who are sick, to Balei Teshuva, to Kiruv programs, and to camps. We did a Tzitzis campaign at Waterbury Yeshiva and we are now doing one in R’ Fisher’s Yeshiva. We make Tzisis and bring the Thank You Hashem logos and custom-made emblems to make our own Tzisis there. Our goal is to continue promoting positivity. Like we say, our goal is to make Hashem’s name great again, again, and again.
Which rabbis do you ask questions to? We are under the Rabbinic guidance of Rabbi Heshy Blumstein of Khal Yismach Moshe in Woodmere.
Who makes up the Thank You Hashem slogans? We do it as a group effort. I started this because I couldn’t understand why there’s so much positivity and all of this Chizuk about how much Hashem loves us in every religion except for ours? By the Christians, they say “Yushka loves you” so how come we don’t stress that in Judaism?
I’m going to tell you an incredible story. A friend of mine came to me and said, “Aryeh, I want you to know something. I’m a pessimist by nature and when you told me about the Thank You Hashem campaign I said, “Oh no- here goes Aryeh with another ridiculous thing, but I kept my mouth shut, I thought it was a dumb idea. Then my kids came home from Yeshiva saying Thank You Hashem, singing the Thank You Hashem song and they wanted the swag so we got them swag, and then they wanted more swag, so we got them more swag. But I still thought you were crazy. Then I went to Eretz Yisroel this past Succos. I am forty years old and I went to the Kotel and wrote a Kvittel to Hashem for the first time!” I said, “Wow! What happened?” He said, “I’ll tell you the truth. The first time I went to Eretz Yisroel, I was a young boy. I sat by the kotel and I was just learning how to write and I didn’t know how to start off my letter. I couldn’t write ‘Dear Hashem.’ It’s not appropriate- He’s Hashem! I can’t say ‘Shalom Aleichem’ because you can’t say hello to Hashem. So I never wrote anything. But this time, because of “your dumb idea” Thank You Hashem, I’m able to have a conversation with Hashem. Can you imagine, at the age of 40, I have finally written a kvittel! So I wrote, ‘Dear Hashem, Thank you for my family and my health and my kids and parnasa. I really need help with ABC. Yours truly, Reuven.’ I needed that Chiddush of being able to just have a conversation with Hashem.” You need that connection to be able to have a conversation with Hashem.
There is no other motive other than to bring positivity and Hakara of Hashem. There’s no money being made and there are no real salaries. We hope our events will turn this into a real organization. We have a lot of help from Dr. Benjy Epstein, Phd out of Eretz Yisroel that works with Camp HASC. He’s very helpful to me. And then there has been a tremendous amount of influencers on Instagram helping us push our campaign; Shimmy Adar, Charline Aminoff, who is a really good friend, Nachy Gordon, and Charlie Harari are people that have been really helpful to us and we thank them and Thank Hashem for putting them in the right place to help us.
In Parshas Vayeitzei, Leah had her 4th son and said “Hapam Odeh Et Hashem.” It seems that Leah was acknowledging that she although she thought she was supposed to have only three children, her cheshbon was wrong and clearly Hashem knew better. The pasuk ends with the fact after that she stopped having children. We can understand this as a Taina on Leah. Only this time you’re going to thank Hashem? What about the first three times? So the pasuk says that’s why she stopped having children. Our Chasidic Masters looks at “Hapam Odeh Et Hashem” as a question, not a statement. “You think I’m only going to thank Hashem now? This one time when the baby is born? I’m going to call him Yehuda because every single time I mention him by name, I’ll be giving gratitude to Hashem.” The Gemara tells us that until Leah came along, no one said thank you to Hashem. You mean to tell me that none of the avot said thank you hashem? That Sarah Imeinu, after all those years of not having a child, didn’t say thank you Hashem? What does the gemara mean? Perhaps it could mean that Leah was the first person to start a “Thank You Hashem” campaign. She called him Yehuda because every time she said his name, she was also thanking Hashem. Thank you Hashem- he’s eating. Thank you Hashem- he’s going to the bathroom. Thank you Hashem- he’s falling. Our avoidah is to be grateful and Leah was the first one to instill that within us.
Is there anything else that you would like to say to Jewish Vues readers? The TYH phenomenon is a runaway success, with participants from the United States, Canada, Israel, Argentina, Mexico, Amsterdam and more. Jews are thirsty to connect to Hashem, and we can’t keep enough branded swag in stock! Our pipeline is flush with exciting projects and initiatives, and we can only do it with your support. Please take the time visit us at TYHNATION.com and follow us on Instagram @tyhashem Wishing all a happy & freilichin Chanukah!
We hosted a roundtable discussion with the Thank You Hashem Nation crew
The infectious “Thank You Hashem” movement, launched by a group of something Five Towns friends, has taken off to become an exuberant, global engine for Jews who want to promote gratitude, positive thinking, deepen their relationship with Hashem, and ignite a broad spiritual spark. There’s the music, the website, and the ubiquitous “Thank You Hashem” swag — all of which are turning gratitude into a natural way of life. To celebrate their latest project, the release for Elul of the album MEVAKSHEI HASHEM in partnership with Mishpacha, we hosted a roundtable discussion with the Thank You Hashem Nation crew Elimelech Blumstein, Aryeh Blumstein, Yaakov Josephy, and their music producer Mendy Portnoy.
Mevakshei Hashem | מבקשי השם
WHY IS THIS MUSIC NEW AND DIFFERENT FROM OTHER ALBUMS?
Elimelech: Well, this isn’t the usual “Artist releases album to build his career and get more gigs.” Like all of Thank You Hashem’s projects, this is not for profit. This music is born of personal journeys that we, as a chevreh and a community, have been through, and want to share with others. Musically, these songs are a combination of catchy “hooks,” easy singing, and very deep meaning.
Aryeh: People ask us what our secret is to being trendsetters in Jewish music. Funny, because we’re not here to set trends. Like everyone, we’re struggling with life — and yet trying to stay inspired. We’re trying to figure out what works to help us climb upward, and then share that inspiration.
Mi LaShem Elai | מי להשם אלי
AN ALBUM OR AN EXPERIENCE?
Aryeh: We saw an issue in the music world. When we were kids, if you got a new album, you used to look at the album cover, take out the booklet and read the write-up and dedication while you listened, which helped you connect and made it into an experience. Just downloading your music and moving on doesn’t have the same effect. We wanted to bring the booklet back, to make these songs an immersive experience. We commissioned original art from Shani Levin to depict the message of each song. The Torah teaching for the essence of each niggun, written by Rabbi Yaakov Klein of the Lost Princess Initiative, is printed in the booklet, too, letting the songs really come to life and make an impact through the senses. Rabbi Klein also wrote the introduction to the album and our rav, Rabbi Yussie Zakutinsky, the rav of Khal Mevakshei Hashem in Lawrence, is featured on the opening track, sharing about the avodah of music. Creating an experience around an album amplifies the connection, and our motto is: We’re not after views, but impact.
Chelek Elokai | חלק אלוקה ממעל
THE SONGS ARE CREDITED TO THE BLUMSTEIN BROTHERS — BUT WHO REALLY DOES THE COMPOSING?
Aryeh: Elimelech! He’s a phenomenal songwriter. One of my earliest memories is of Elimelech and my father sitting in the succah composing a song. He must have been nine years old. The words were “Yibaneh hamikdash,” and it was quite possibly the worst song I’ve ever heard, but he’s improved a lot since then.
Elimelech: I knew Aryeh would say that — he’s always trying to say that I write the songs. He’s a big anav.
Aryeh: Elimelech is the bechor, my respected older brother. He started all this, he leads the songwriting, it’s all him.
Elimelech: I’ll tell you the truth. First of all, from my perspective, the song demo is where the songwriting process ends, not where it begins. The songs begin in our shared experiences, in what we have gone through together and lived and learned. They begin in our real lives, and when we write Blumstein Brothers, we don’t just mean Elimelech and Aryeh, either. We mean our chevreh, our community, our families — we’re all brothers, and “Blumstein Brothers” is just the shorthand for all of us.
Aryeh: The actual title “Blumstein Brothers” is a throwback to our grandfather Moshe Blumstein, who supported the family and the community with a grocery on the Lower East Side, named “Blumstein Brothers.” We’re told that Rav Moshe Feinstein was a customer there. Our father and his twin brother, Hilky, were also known as the “Blumstein Brothers” during their singing career, so we’re keeping the tradition going.
B’rov Am | ברב עם
HOW LONG HAS THIS ALBUM BEEN IN THE WORKS?
Elimelech: When does the niggun start? Music has always been a big part of what we do. Since Joey Newcomb sang “Thank You Hashem” on his first album, I’m back to composing songs after a long hiatus — Thank you Hashem! We had a lot of gems that we were holding onto, and when it hit us that they could inspire teshuvah, we decided to put out a full music experience in time for Elul, partnering with Mishpacha.
Efshar l’hatzil | אפשר להציל
THE “FARBRENGABLE STUDIOS” SYMBOL ON THE ALBUM COVER IS SOMETHING NEW. WHAT IS “FARBRENGABLE” MUSIC?
Aryeh: Ah, that’s the most important word here. The litmus test for any song we consider putting out there is, Is this song farbreng-able? It’s all about farbrengability. And to us that means relatable, singable, meaningful, and impactful. We’ve tried them to make sure, before bringing them to you.
Ain Booni | אין בנו מעשים
DEEP DOWN, WHAT DO YOU FEEL YOU ARE PRODUCING MUSIC FOR?
Aryeh: Our rav, Rabbi Yussie Zakutinsky, always says that there were different types of gedolim in previous generations. There were the giants who knew Shas and Shulchan Aruch by heart, and there were the great men who were poets and doctors and grammarians. We need so much, so many types of avodah.
Our souls in galus, Reb Yussie says, feel like artists without hands. Their ability to express has been taken away. Part of the reason that our generation idolizes creativity is that the world is preparing itself for nevuah, prophecy. And so musical creativity also means getting closer. Elimelech loves to ask, “What is our avodah?” And the answer is that our avodah here is to be mevakshei Hashem and to combat the darkness of the world. With that goal in mind, we’ll do whatever it takes — partner with NCSY to connect with public school teenagers, or partner with Yad Eliezer to fundraise for the Meron families.
Yiddishkeit is not broken; it’s awesome. The Ribbono shel Olam is awesome. We are just trying to bring out that beauty. In yeshivah — we were in the Yeshiva of Far Rockaway, talmidim of Rav Aharon Brafman z”l, to whom this album is dedicated — we’re all taught to connect to the Ribbono shel Olam through Torah. But most of us can’t sit and learn the entire day, so it’s up to us to find ways to keep close through the mundane activities of our lives.
Abba Yakar | אבא יקר
HOW DID YOU MATCH THE SINGERS — JOEY NEWCOMB, ARELE SAMET, ZUSHA, 8TH DAY, MOSHE STORCH AND OTHER INCREDIBLE TALENTS — TO THE SONGS?
Mendy: We didn’t. Hashem makes the plans, kind of like 40 days before the song is born. It just fell into place, and once we heard the artist singing it, it was like, “How could it not be made for him?”
Lev Avos | לב אבות
MENDY, HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED?
Mendy: Last winter, I was living in Eretz Yisrael and visiting my wife’s family in New York. Moshe Storch reached out to me and asked me to produce a song that he was singing for TYH. I did my thing, but I had no idea what I was getting into.
Aryeh: He sent us that song, “Shomati/Take Us Home,” and it was a masterpiece. We’d been struggling to get the niggun out there, and Mendy’s arrangement struck all the right notes, brought to musical life all the intentions we had. We invited Mendy over to farbreng with us, and he came and played. Besides his super talent, it was clear to us that he was one of us — as much as he didn’t appreciate it at the time. We looked at Mendy and we said, “We want to hire you to run our studio.”
Elimelech: We didn’t even have a studio, but we knew we wanted to build one, and we knew we wanted Mendy. He just has that koach.
Mendy: Two or three weeks later, for personal reasons, we found ourselves compelled to leave Eretz Yisrael and move to the East Coast of the United States.
Aryeh: I can only imagine how hard that was, leaving Eretz Yisrael and all your own side of the family. But it was fortunate for us. Mendy called and asked if there was any truth to our offer. Things moved forward — he had a hand in producing every track on this album.
Baalei Teshuvah | בעלי תשובה
MENDY, YOU’VE WORKED WITH SO MANY ARTISTS OF ALL STRIPES. HOW IS IT DIFFERENT TO BE EXECUTIVE PRODUCER OF FARBRENGABLE STUDIOS AND WORK WITH THE TYH CREW?
Mendy: When I work with someone on a song, I generally connect, but not usually in a long-term way. But with this project, with these guys, it’s really concentrated. We’re building something together.
E.L.U.L. | המלך בשדה
WHICH SONGS IN PARTICULAR HAVE MADE THEIR MARK ON YOU?
Aryeh: That’s a tough question — but I guess if I had to choose, it would be “Mevakshei Hashem.” Named after our shul, Khal Mevakshei Hashem, it represents everything that we are doing and accomplishing together. One Motzaei Shabbos, the chevreh was sitting farbenging in shul at Melaveh Malkah. After Reb Yussie’s Torah, someone took out a guitar, and the song just emerged — so it comes straight from our hearts. Reb Joey Newcomb, who is our baal tefillah in the shul for Yamim Noraim and who’s a vital part of TYH’s appeal and success, collaborated with Mendy to make this song something special. There’s contemplation, searching, and then there’s dancing for joy, because there’s nothing as joyous as searching for Hashem. And because simchah is a big part of avodah.
Mendy: I would say “Baalei Teshuvah.” It was the last song I played back in Eretz Yisrael. My entire apartment and studio were packed up, my life there was drawing to a close, and I played “Baalei Teshuvah.” But there’s also another piece. I sent the music to one of my musicians, not a religious guy, for him to record the guitar track. He told me that he was playing the music when he came to the part where the music breaks down into the Vidui tune, and he suddenly felt the need to say “Shema Yisrael” and “Baruch Shem.” He said it aloud, completed the music, and the very next morning, he told me, he decided to put on his long-abandoned tefillin. Now, I would never in a million years describe or consider myself as a kiruv person, but just through my regular day’s work, a guy felt a wave of emotion that brought him to Shema Yisrael.
Elimelech: I was once sitting next to Yossi Green at a Lipa concert, and I commented that one song Lipa was singing was absolutely the best song. Yossi told me that each song has its moment, and is the best song in that moment of time. It then gives way to another song whose time has come. I believe that.
One song which is very precious to me is “Lev Avos.” You’ll see that we have incredible singers on this album, but the “Early Shabbos Band” who sings “Lev Avos” is a new name. They’re a group of friends from shul who’ve been singing and learning and growing together for the past ten years. To me, that represents the best of the TYH movement — a group of friends coming together to farbreng and encourage and inspire each other. We sing every Erev Shabbos, and this song was composed by one of our chevreh, Yossi Schwartz. Mendy did the arrangements, and our aim was, to quote 8th Day, “to put that farbrengen in a bottle” and spread it via song. To record the song, we set up a studio in the basement of our shul and sang it there together after Havdalah on Motzaei Shabbos. Thank you to Mendy for being so open to new artists and musicians.
Take Us Home | שמעתי
HOW DO YOU FIT ALL THE THANK YOU HASHEM NATION PROJECTS INTO YOUR LIVES?
Aryeh: You should be asking that to Yaakov here. He’s the one who was in the Thank You Hashem office at 6 a.m. this morning, and most other mornings, to work on all the logistics and the graphics before he puts in a full day’s work managing a healthcare agency. Yaakov is the one who sits and works on getting our songs, blog posts, and shiurim out there. He’s also the graphic artist.
Yaakov: When I’m working with such choshuve people, I can squeeze it in. Thank You Hashem for the ability to partner with the chevreh and get the message out.
Aryeh: And we have a lot more in the works – a beautiful Shabbos album to help Yidden connect to the pnimiyus of Shabbos, an album for kids teaching the fundamentals of chassidus through music, some exciting new projects with Avraham Fried, Joey Newcomb, Betzalel Levin, Bracha Jaffe and Shaindy Plotzker, and new emunah podcasts. We’re grateful that we can keep inspiring Yidden.
Wake Up Yidden | ימים באים
לע״נ הרה"ק ר' ישעיה ב"ר משה מקערעסטיר זיע"א
לע״נ הרב אהרן מרדכי בן ר׳ שלמה זלמן זצ״ל
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue )
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He yelled at her. And I said that I want to ride. Listen, leave me alone. I don't care what my father says.
Hashem thank you
I am not athletic, no longer young. And outwardly, it is far from the standard of male beauty. There is nothing to say about wealth.THANK YOU HASHEM - JOEY NEWCOMB ft. Moshe Storch (Official Music Video) @tyhashem - TYH Nation
Things were going very well. Taking off our outerwear, we went into the hall, on the table was a bottle of red wine and fruit. Larissa sat down on a leather sofa and I, ahead of the team, opened the wine and served a half-filled grocery to the lady, and immediately agreed. To the offer to drink at brotherhood to relieve unnecessary tension.
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With reverent trepidation, they fearfully gazed upward, to the very top, which was hidden by a fluffy blanket of clouds, and with horror immediately looked. Away, they knew that the Gods lived there. In a huge room, the walls of which were woven from snow-white, like the whitest, virgin snow, clouds, on a giant bed, the same cloudy and fluffy, curled up like lianas, two magnificent bodies lay.
He is huge, with a relief of muscles all over his body, regular, sharp features and a formidable look from which the soul of the most persistent and courageous among human heroes was chilled.