Beyond the Notes: How Reb Moshe Goldman’s Music Emanated from Boro Park to a Global Audience
By: Yehuda Alter
A name that is synonymous with authentic chassidishe neginah, with music that emanated from the depth of a pure soul, and with tones that were impossibly rich and evocative, Reb Moshe Goldman remains a legend to generations of postwar Yidden are transported just a bit closer to the world of yore through his 1,000 timeless compositions.
For every feeling, for every special moment in the year, and for every type explication toward Hashem, there is a classic niggun from Reb Moshe to elevate it. It is difficult to believe that a soul like this lived in our midst, having left us twelve years ago this week.
Reb Moshe was born in Eretz Yisroel to his father, Reb Binyumin Goldman, an ardent Bobover Chossid, a yerei Shomayim, and a gifted ba’al tefillah in his own right.
Even as a very young boy, young Moshe—the bikurim generation, as the “first fruits” in the generation after the churban is sometimes referred to—was recognized for his incredible musical talent. He would go on to sing a song that hearkened back old world, and could easily have emerged from the winding streets of Krakow—and at the very same time had a rich, contemporary feel.
A perfect harmony for a generation that was building new worlds of Torah and chassidus atop the foundations of yore.
He would sing at weddings in Eretz Yisroel, and was known for his gifted grammen and singing at weddings. Already in his youth, he jealously guarded the sanctity of his neginah—ensuring that it would only be used in holy environments. He came to America, and married the daughter of Reb Yidel Eisen, a legendary Bobover chossid from the town of Oshpitzin (infamously known as the Germanized Auschwitz), and the couple settled in Brooklyn.
One year, the Bobover Rebbe asked him to take the reins of Machane Shalva d’Bobov. The stint lasted one summer. But a phenomenon was born. In camp, he would gather the children and teach them his compositions. They would perform these in the camp, and the compositions spread like wildfire.
A vocal recording for the three weeks (when no music could be played) led to a glorious series of Camp Shalva Choir albums—each and every one overflowing with beautiful songs, many of which have become classics in every single community around the world.
Reb Moshe was a yerei Shomayim to his core, and countless stories exist of his mesirus nefesh for maintaining the highest levels of kedushah. Perhaps it is this quality that so sets his nigunim apart... or maybe it was his overflowing chessed—a heart that throbbed with the joys and the sorrows of his people.
He was so attuned to others, and the plight of his fellow Yid was the impetus for many of his niggunim.
IN all, he composed over 1000 songs, and at the time of his untimely passing, he left behind hundreds which had not yet been recorded. His son, Reb Chaim Yitzchok has devoted himself to perpetuating his father’s work—ensuring that the song is heard ever stronger, in a generation that needs holy, classic neginah more than ever.