JCrafts Georgia head Rabbi Levi Mentz is always trying to upgrade the educational workshops available to schools and synagogues to learn about Jewish holidays and rituals, and those changes are usually most noticeable with better visuals or additional hands-on projects — things you can see and often feel.
This spring, you’ll also be able to hear the difference.
Rabbi Mentz, who grew up amid show-business people in Los Angeles, called on one of his California connections, Gerald Blum, to increase shows’ dramatic impact with narration from a pro.
“I’ve known Levi since he was literally a little kid. I used to go to his dad’s house around the corner from me,” said Blum, whose vocal credits include the voiceovers for “Judge Judy.” “He’s grown up and become quite a young man.”
He said he used a “Disney tour guide” kind of voice to provide the narration for the Passover program “Back to the Exodus,” which appealed to him with its combination of the entertainment world (inspired by “Back to the Future”) and tradition.
He gave all the credit to Rabbi Mentz for writing a script that could appeal to children and “translate fun and learning together.”
They never had to be in the same state, let alone the same room, to work together on the Exodus story. Rabbi Mentz emailed the script to Blum, who printed it out and took it to a nephew’s computerized home studio to record his parts.
Rabbi Mentz was full of excitement about landing Blum, who used to do projects for his father, including a weekly phone recording about the Messiah. Blum said the Chabad philosophy of not judging people on how much they know and of starting small and building up appeals to him, and JCrafts fits that approach by making learning fun and age-appropriate.
Rabbi Mentz can be reached at email@example.com to get information about or book “Back to the Exodus” or the other JCrafts workshops and programs. You should be able to catch Blum’s voice again in the year-round Great Kosher Chocolate Factory workshop.
The JCrafts work is extremely satisfying, Blum said. “I’ve always worked under the adage that what you do is not who you are. If you can combine the two in a project as worthy as this, it’s so much more satisfying than commercial work.”