By COLlive reporter
A white-bearded chossid enters a closet and switches on the florescent light. He pulls a dusty storage carton off the shelf. Written on it in black marker: “1978-1982. 33 tours, 45 tours.”
He reaches in pulls out a vinyl record with the black and white image of a clean-shaven, younger looking self. The album reads: “Gilbert Sitbon – a craftsman of song.”
The elder Jewish man, who now goes by the name Aaron Sitbon, has not a bit of regret for abandoning his successful musical career 30 years ago and adopting a life of Torah and mitzvos.
“He was only 20 years old when he started performing in France, and enjoyed great success that took him beyond the borders of France,” says his son, Dovid Sitbon, a Lubavitcher wedding singer in Israel.
“His albums were sold in the tens of thousands and he was one of the most played artists on French radio stations,” his son said. “At the height of his career, when he was offered a long-term music contract, he made a turnaround in his life and decided to devote himself to learning Torah.”
His son said that over the years his father refused many offers to return to the public stage and record and perform. “His songs and compositions were the soundtrack of an entire generation,” Dovid said.
Even at his elder age, Aaron Sitbon, who now lives in Jerusalem and often visits his native France, didn’t plan on returning to the recording studio. “The life of Torah gave me enough satisfaction and the music didn’t leave a void in me,” he says.
Until one night, when a tune kept playing in his head. It belonged to his friend Michel Fugain, the long-time French singer and composer who was signed at the same recording company as Sitbon.
At that late hour, Sitbon searched for his guitar, opened the siddur and sang the song with the words of the Adon Olam prayer with which the shachris morning prayers begin each morning.
“Adon Olam is about accepting the ‘yoke of Heaven’,” he says. “If one Jew finds his connection to his Creator through this song, let that be my reward.”
The song was arranged by Yoval Stupel.
In a music video, filmed and produced by Eyal Tzion, Sitbon is seen helping an IDF soldier put on Tefillin at the legendary Chabad booth at the Kotel, at the replica of 770 in Jerusalem and singing with his frum grandchildren.