Every time we reached the words, “Ain’t gonna work on Saturday,” and Goomber would turn to the audience and shout, “WHY?!” and the entire audience would shout back, “It’s Shabbos Kodesh!” we knew we hit the mark.
We gave Big Gedaliah Goomber a few more Erev Shabbos sagas, but he always made it to the finish line before shkiyah
When I think about all the fun times we had doing children’s concerts over the years, the most memorable character to grace our stage was surely Big Gedaliah Goomber. The iconic song “Big Gedaliah Goomber” was composed by Yosaif Silverman a”h in Toronto back in 1962, but wasn’t released until 1969, on a record he called Big Gedaliah Goomber and Other Songs. Ten years later, we had the pleasure of featuring Yosaif’s beloved character on our first Uncle Moishy album. We found that the character who declared, “Ain’t gonna work on Saturday,” was still a magnet for children (and for children who had in the interim become adults).
As soon as we began doing Uncle Moishy concerts, the song took on a life of its own and suddenly became a major part of every concert we did. We would act out each stanza, describing all of Gedaliah Goomber’s peculiar Erev Shabbos episodes. This would always be the song that followed intermission, and when the curtain went up, the audience would see a huge barbell sitting center stage. To much cheering from the kids in the audience, the performers would come on stage and take turns attempting to lift this “very heavy”’ barbell, to no avail. When all the characters finally gave up, Zale Newman would address the audience and plead, “Is there anybody out there who can help us lift this off the stage?” And suddenly, the music would begin, and Gedaliah Goomber would come onto stage, wearing his trademark “Think Big” T-shirt, walk over to the barbell, and casually lift it with one finger. The audience cracked up, even though they already knew full well that the barbell was actually just a piece of plastic.
When we recorded Uncle Moishy Volume 2, we decided to write two brand new verses to the Gedaliah saga: One was Gedaliah Goomber as a fire chief, a.k.a. Chief Goomber, and the other was Gedaliah as a baseball player on a team called Shomer Shabbos, where we had Goomber standing ready and then hitting the ball, while the umpire would shout, “foul ball,” and Goomber would argue, “but I hit that ball to Mexico!” to which the umpire would reply, “Mexico is foul!”
On Volume 3, we wrote a few new verses: One was about Native Americans meeting up with Gedaliah just before Shabbos. When Gedaliah asked the American Indians to come for Shabbos, they would reply, “We have no reservation.”
And every time we reached the words, “Ain’t gonna work on Saturday,” and Goomber would turn to the audience and shout, “WHY?!” and the entire audience would shout back, “It’s Shabbos Kodesh!” we knew we hit the mark.
We were once flying to Toronto to do a concert and we were going through customs. We’d always carry a huge duffle bag of props just for the Goomber part of the concert, and the nametag on the duffle bag said “Goomber” in big lettering. When we got to the customs agent, he asked us what was in the bag. One of our guys answered that it was religious articles. You had to see the agent’s face when he opened up the Goomber bag and pulled out a huge baseball bat, a barbell, an Indian headdress, a fire hat and various huge props. He looked up at us and replied, “Boy, religion sure has changed over the years.”
When we started putting Gedaliah Goomber on video, we had one person in mind for the role, and we were only hoping he would be game to play this tremendous character. In the end, Nachum Segal wholeheartedly agreed to go for it. We couldn’t have been happier (and hope he was, too!).
Now, I’m not making this last part up, so feel free to do your research: A few weeks back, on a Friday evening, the New York Yankees were playing the Colorado Rockies, and the pitcher for Colorado was Gomber. And his nickname? “Big G.” So the question arises, how did Gomber play on Friday night? After looking into the matter, I discovered that the game began at 6:40 Colorado time, and sunset was not until 8:34. And what time did they take him out of the game? They took him out at 8:26. WHY? Cuz it’s Shabbos Kodesh!
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 973)
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