New York – He has numerous albums to his credit, but unlike most Jewish singers, Beit Shemesh resident Yosef Karduner shuns the spotlight, preferring instead to live his life following the directives of R’ Nachman of Breslov. He lives simply, devotes his life to prayer and learning and spends at least one hour a day immersed in hitbodedut, the practice of conversing privately with Hashem in a secluded location in order to gain a clearer understanding of oneself and establish an intimate relationship with Hashem.
As a child, Karduner was one of the best soccer players on the Pe’el Petach Tikva youth team. But while everyone expected him to play ball professionally, his career was short lived. Karduner sprained his ankle in his first game played on Shabbos in just the first minute of play, ending his career in soccer.
Soccer’s loss was music’s gain as Karduner focused on his love of music, singing and playing the guitar. After being inducted into the Israel army, he was accepted into the Lahakat Pikud Hatzafon, a prestigious IDF musical troupe which for many of Israel’s most popular singers, served as an entrée into their civilian music careers.
After serving his time in the IDF, Karduner joined a rock group and played bass guitar for popular Israeli singer, songwriter and composer Uzi Hitman. Hitman’s father, who came from an old time Lubavitch family, was a positive influence on Karduner, speaking with him about the purpose of life and the importance of living life as a Jew.
After being introduced to Mesilas Yesharim by an army friend, Karduner became even more turned on to Yiddishkeit, but it was the widely distributed Breslover kuntraisim that made him realize that each of us has the potential to bring glory to Hashem in our own way. Karduner went to a Bresolver yeshiva for Baalei Teshuva where he grew in his Yiddishkeit but realized that the music he was playing with his rock band was completely devoid of meaning. He put his guitar away in a closet where it sat, untouched, for five months.
Ironically, it was after his daily hitbodedut that the first notes of his most popular song, Shir Lamaalot, came to Karduner. Undoubtedly his biggest hit, it has been sung by stars such as Lipa and Yishai Lapidot and has received hundreds of thousands of hits on YouTube.
In a rare interview for VIN News with Yossi Zweig of Jewish Insights, Karduner talks about his music, how he became a baal teshuva and his newly released album, entitled Kumzitz, his first album to be recorded in New York.
Watch below full 15 Min. interview.
As a special treat for VIN viewers Karduner sang the Karliner song “Im Ein Ani Li Mi Li”, accompanying himself on the guitar.