|Born In :||Shanghai|
He was the quintessential mechanech (teacher). Whether in the classroom (he was one of the most popular rebbeyim in Yeshiva Torah Temimah), camp (he founded Camp Na’arim where he introduced staff & campers to the concept of “Supervised Hefkeyrus”) or his 14th Avenue Pirchei group –where his unique storytelling style made his group the one to “get into” even when you outgrew the others, Rabbi Shmuel Kunda was a master at creating worlds that only existed in his audiences’ imaginations. More than an artist of words, he was also an artist in the literal sense. No matter the medium, he had the knack of bringing his words to life with drawings that were every bit as engaging.
Luckily for our children—and the child in us all, he discovered that recordings were the ideal fusion of his talents. He was literally a one man production company years before technology made that a reality. He wrote the scripts and songs, performed many of the voice characterizations and even collaborated on the music—where his gravelly voice made up in fun and warmth what it may have lacked in vocal prowess. When he was done with all that, he proceeded to illustrate and design the album covers—each one a work of fun, accessible art.
His discography which is now in its almost third generation of entertaining and educating children of all ages, includes classics like When Zaidy Was Young, Boruch Learns His Brochos, The Magic Yarmulke, A Ton of Mon, Boruch Learns About Shabbos, The Longest Pesach, There’s Zaidy, Zaidy’s Great Idea, Where’s Zaidy, The Talking Coins, The Royal Rescue, and The Miraculous Menorah.
Why did so many children and their parents identify with his music? Because he understood his audience. To him these albums were an extension of his classroom, camp and Pirchei group—a way to connect and make a difference in a child’s life. While raised in Brooklyn, he was born in Shang-Hai. To him bridging the old and new wasn’t a choice…it was an obligation. Provided you had the talent, skills and sensitivity to do it.
Luckily for us, he did.