Yossi (Joseph) Toiv (born January 9, 1949), known professionally as Country Yossi, is an American Orthodox Jewish composer, singer, radio show host, author, and magazine publisher. A pioneering composer and singer in the Jewish music genre, Toiv has to his credit three albums as a member of the group Or Chodosh ("New Light") circa 1971–73, seven albums under the name Country Yossi and the Shteeble Hoppers, and a series of six albums for children called Kivi and Tuki. He also released "Country Yossi's Classic Calls" a humorous collection of actual on-air phone calls to his radio show. He has also released two animated Kivi and Tuki DVDs.

Toiv adopted his stage name from his parodies of popular country music tunes that he reworked to convey Orthodox Jewish themes.[2][3] He then transferred the name as a brand name onto the magazine, radio show, musical albums, and children's books which he has published for the mostly Orthodox Jewish market in the United States. Toiv has become infamous as the composer of "Little Kinderlach" which was adapted as the ubiquitous Kars4Kids jingle. (www.tabletmag.com Zachary Schrieber 2/10/2015.)

Early life

Yossi Toiv was born and raised in East New York, Brooklyn. His father, Chaim Toiv, was a well-known hazzan.[2] As a child in the 1950s, Yossi enjoyed listening to country music and writing Jewish parodies of popular songs, such as "Big Bad Moish" (a takeoff on "Big Bad John").[3]

He attended the Lubavitcher yeshiva in Brooklyn,NY and was one of the first students at Yeshiva Sh'or Yoshuv founded by Rabbi Shlomo Freifeld.[2] One of his roommates was Rabbi Shmuel Brazil, with whom he formed a band called Or Chodosh (New Light). While Brazil demurred from performing on stage on the request of Freifeld, he did write several of the band's hits, including "Shmelkie's Niggun" and "Bilvavi". Yossi and the other band members, Yussie Lieber and Nachum Deutsch, toured in concert while Brazil joined them in the recording studio.[2]

Country Yossi Show

The band members eventually married and started working; Toiv sold diamonds on 47th Street in Manhattan.[3] A number of years later, during a summer vacation in the Catskill Mountains, he met bandleader Heshy Walfish and told him about the country music parodies that he had written as a child. Walfish encouraged him to return to the concert circuit with a new persona, Country Yossi,[3] and collaborated with him on new songs.

In 1986 Toiv parlayed his growing popularity into an Orthodox Jewish radio program called the Country Yossi Show in New York City. To satisfy rabbinical demand for separating the sexes, he designated one hour for children, one hour for men, and one hour for women.[3] Later he started a weekly evening radio show in the Catskills.[3] The Country Yossi Show offers music, chat, and halakha (Jewish law) trivia questions with prizes for correct answers.[2] The show has been on the air continuously since its inception in 1986.

Country Yossi Magazine

In 1988, Toiv began publishing an English-language monthly advertising magazine called Country Yossi Magazine, distributed in New York City. Many types of topics are discussed including Torah, Humor, People, Opinion, Real Life,Sound Off, Letters to the Editor etc. and often controversial issues are broached by its writers. Various articles relating to the controversy surrounding Chabad messianism were published in the 1990s.[4] In the acknowledgments for her book Holy Brother: Inspiring Stories and Enchanted Tales about Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, author Yitta Halberstam Mandelbaum thanks Toiv for his willingness to print many of her controversial articles, including one about musician-rabbi Shlomo Carlebach which led to her writing that biography.[5]

Through his magazine and radio show, Toiv has promoted the careers of many singers and entertainers catering to the Orthodox Jewish market, including Dovid Gabay,[6] Avi Newmark,[7] Yacov Young,[8] Shua Kessin,[9][10]Yossi Green,[11]Eli Gerstner,[12][13] and Shauli.[14] His career has inspired many others including Yossi Green (songwriter), Lenny Solomon (Shlock Rock) and Sheya Mendlowitz (Producer).

Music and songs

[Country Yossi's] song "Cuz I'm a Jew" (set to the tune of Johnny Cash's "I Walk the Line") includes the line, "Oh once a year I twirl a chicken over my head / and it wouldn't be that bad if it were dead / and there's a time when I go outside and burn my bread / cause I'm a Jew I do that too".[15]

Toiv has collaborated with Heshy Walfish on 15 humorous music albums on Orthodox Jewish themes for children. Many songs are parodies of mainstream songs that Toiv has adapted to convey Jewish messages.[2] Toiv created the characters Kivi and Tuki, and the Shteeble-Hoppers, for these albums.[2]

Toiv wrote all the lyrics for a 2008 NCSY CD Jewish Version that parodies contemporary pop, rock, and punk hits. Toiv parodied "Hey There Delilah" as "Hey There Gedaliah", rewrote "Numb" as "Dumb", and recast "No One" as "Shalom".[16] He composed one of the songs on Shua Kessin's 2009 album.[10] He also wrote the lyrics to Daddy Come Home, whose recording by the Yeshiva Boys Choir was in a YouTube video which amassed over 4 million views.[citation needed]

Personal life

Toiv married Hadassah Buchinger (born 1954 in Tel Aviv) in Brooklyn in October 1973. They have four daughters.

Toiv earned a master's degree in psychology from Long Island University.[2]

References

  1. ^ Finkelman, Louis (13 August 2014). "Orthodox families from around the country find Metro Detroit a welcome new home". Detroit Jewish News. Retrieved 12 October 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Besser, Yisroel. "Where Country and Soul Merge". Mishpacha, April 14, 2010, pp. 42-50.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Israel, Steve (23 July 2000). "Weekly radio show's hotter than a jalapeno gefilte fish". The Times Herald-Record. Retrieved 12 October 2014. 
  4. ^ "Chassidus Unlimited". chassidusunlimited.tripod.com. Archived from the original on September 6, 2009. Retrieved November 2, 2010. 
  5. ^ Halberstam Mandelbaum, Yitta (2002). Holy Brother: Inspiring Stories and Enchanted Tales about Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. Jason Aronson. p. 13. ISBN 0765762099. 
  6. ^ Eller, Sandy. "Dovid Gabay Presents Eretz Yisroel". Country Yossi Magazine. Retrieved November 2, 2010. 
  7. ^ Eller, Sandy. "Newmark Productions: Building An Empire, One Song At A Time". Country Yossi Magazine. Retrieved November 2, 2010. 
  8. ^ "Country Yossi Magazine". yacovyoung.com. Retrieved November 2, 2010. 
  9. ^ "Shua Kessin Article in Country Yossi". shuakessin.com. October 29, 2009. Retrieved November 2, 2010. 
  10. ^ a b "Audio: "Bye Bye Bye" – Shua Kessin Brings A Fresh Style". matzav.com. September 16, 2009. Retrieved November 2, 2010. 
  11. ^ "Yossi Green: The 8th Note (audio)". gruntig.net. March 20, 2008. Retrieved November 2, 2010. 
  12. ^ Eli Gerstner (February 2001). "Yosis". Country Yossi Magazine. eligerstner.com. Retrieved November 2, 2010. 
  13. ^ Zweig, Yossi (2009). "Three's a Winner". theyeshivaboyschoir.com. Retrieved November 2, 2010. 
  14. ^ "Shauli: Press". shaulismusic.com. Retrieved November 2, 2010. 
  15. ^ Brosseau, Miriam. "Jewish Children's Music Grows Up: From Uncle Moishy to OyBaby". myjewishlearning.com. Retrieved 2 November 2010. 
  16. ^ OU Staff (25 March 2008). "NCSY Presents the Jewish Version, A New CD Featuring Familiar Tunes with Jewish Lyrics". Orthodox Union. Retrieved 12 October 2014.