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June 17, 2015 2:49 pm

Israeli Dancer With Shofar, Prayer Shawl Wows ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ Judges (VIDEO)

avatar by Shiryn Solny

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Israeli dancer Asaf Goren blew away the judges on 'So You Think You Can Dance.' Photo: Fox.

Israeli dancer Asaf Goren blew away the judges on ‘So You Think You Can Dance.’ Photo: Fox.

An Israeli dancer made use of Jewish props in an extraordinary routine that left judges amazed when he auditioned for season 12 of TV dance competition So You Think You Can Dance on Monday.

At first, the panel of judges appeared confused when Asaf Goren, 23, began his audition in Los Angeles with a tallit (prayer shawl) over his head and the blowing of a shofar, which he explained “opens the sky” for people’s prayers. However, as soon as he started his “Hebrew breaking” performance, judges Nigel Lythgoe, Paula Abdul, and Jason Derulo were enthralled by his moves.

The Tel Aviv native, who calls himself “The Hebrew Breaker” performed to Madonna’s Isaac, featuring Hebrew lyrics. He opened with a fast paced break dancing routine before ripping off his shirt and throwing a bucket of water on stage to speed up his movements.

The audience and judges responded to Goren’s performance with a spirited standing ovation. One fellow dancer was caught on camera mouthing “wow” repeatedly.

“I think everybody in this theater is absolutely shocked at what they’ve just seen there,” Lythgoe told Goren afterward. “As for me, I have no idea still what Hebrew B-boy is, but I would say, in the British vernacular, that was bloody great B-boying.”

Abdul, who at first seemed too shocked to speak, complimented Goren’s “wonderful personality.” “We’re definitely going to remember [this],” she said, before Lythgoe mentioned that Goren’s signature move, a forward dive onto his back, was exactly the kind of thing they look for on the show.

“You’re heart was bursting out of your chest and we felt it,” Abdul continued. “It was incredible.”

Goren told the judges that his style of break dancing is infused with elements from Jewish and Israeli culture. “I see so many dancers around the world, so many breakers, I really got tired,” he said, “I got bored, to be honest from the regular, basic B-boying. I really tried to use my culture.”

The third judge, Derulo, told Goren he was a “star” and said he believes the contender “will create something special that can change the world.” The singer also admitted he was initially put off by Goren’s confidence, “but after watching you perform, I understand why you have that amount of confidence because it’s the truth.”

“It’s not being cocky,” Derulo said. “I believe you 100 percent. And If I can help that dream come true, I’m down to help that.”

Derulo and Lythgoe then commented on the dancer’s resemblance to Aladdin and Rock Hudson before all three judges voted to let Goren continue on to the next stage of the competition.

Watch Goren’s audition in the video below:


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  • Jason Jehosephat

    First of all, you’re wrong. Second of all, under no circumstances is balling it up and rolling around in it like a dog on a dead squirrel a mark of respect, let alone “good for the Jews”.

  • Joseph Feld

    I’ve come back to watch again in response to some of the critics. Regarding his tallis, he could avoid some criticism if he used a ‘tallis’ without the four corner tzitzis or if he just put the tallis on the stool and not on the floor. It’s not a big problem and he is very talented indeed! and a good image of Israeli youth.G-d bless him.

  • Elena

    He sounds like a complete idiot.

    • Diane B.

      Agreed! Handsome…but completely dim-witted!

      • Mark Steinfeld

        How brilliant would you sound in a second language? He is helping repair relations with other peoples while you would tear at him.

    • Arye

      And what does your comment make you sound like?

  • Golum

    We’re fairly secular and were surprised also by the use of the Tallit…however I would
    honestly like to know what distinguishes a tallit from an ordinary shawl???
    Perhaps this was a fake talit???

    • Joseph Feld

      It could easily be a fake tallis. The mitzvah is that if a Jewish man wears a four cornered garment, in the daytime, more than a certain size he should have tzitzit on the four corners. If he rounds one corner he no longer needs tzitzis. For theatrical performances he could use fringes which are not kosher. Far easier to just drop the tallis on a chair instead of on the floor. The garment without the tzitzis has no sanctity.

  • Jason Jehosephat

    This man demonstrated enormous disrespect for a sacred garment, and everybody cheered him. Wearers are supposed to be careful not to let any part of the tallis touch the floor. Goren ground it right into the stage and then threw it down. And even Jewish judge Paula Abdul cheered his performance. Imagine the reactions if a dancer had done something like that with a cross.

    • Consulting Doc

      There is NOTHING holy about a fringed garment known as a tallis, or a tallit. It is not a siddur or mahzor or TNKH that you keep off the floor and to which you show respect and bury or save in a g’nizah after its useful life. Have you ever seen a tallit “buried” in a g’nizah? It may be buried in the ground when it’s wrapped around a dead person as a shroud. It is wonderful for Asaf to de-mystify a piece of cloth that Jews use in morning prayer services. Learn to be less of a crank. Asaf is good for the Jews.

    • William

      I’m not Jewish and I was shocked and offended when he threw the tallit on the floor.

      • Arye

        You’re not part of this conversation, William.

  • Somehow it’s strikes some profound similarity in many ways how Israel is performing in this century !!!

  • Joseph London

    Asaf Goren — any relation to Chief Rabboi Shlomo Goren? — reminded the panel of American stars, but he made me think of King David ‘leaping and dancing’ before the Ark of the Covenant, and his wife Michal complaining about David uncovering himself. [Samuel 2: chapter 6]

  • Shalom-Hillel

    I saw the performance on TV and it was truly extraordinary. Paula Abdul, nice Jewish girl that she is, was nearly in tears.

    • Jason Jehosephat

      He was committing a sacrilegious act right in front of her, but she was crying with joy.

  • P Guetta

    Unbelievable Good Looks and good on what he does , that is what I call talent and as well that he does have all the luck in the future !

    • Lisy Meyers

      Asaf Goren was saying that he does not fit into one of only 2 categories. The show has become too limited. Goren has enormous talent & should be brought back. He represents Israel in a beautiful extraordinary way.He is not just a street dancer. He expresses volumes of emotion with his body. Bravo, well done!!!!!

  • Denise

    “You’re heart was bursting…”

    It’s YOUR, not you’re.

  • Russell T Mollot

    Asaf Goren pushes the limits of physics with his breath-taking moves. Never have I seen anything like it. I had to watch his signature move over and over. He has taken break-dancing to an entirely new level.

  • Jacqueline Franch

    it was disheartening to see Jewish symbols used as props for a dance contest. It was was truly vulgar to witness him wiping his brow with the ‘talis’ and then discard it as if it were a ‘shmata’.

  • This isn’t dance. It’s a restricted form of acrobatics and skilful in a limited way, but watch any ballet dancer, classical or modern, and they will show you what powerful dancing is. By comnparison, this is just amateur, like all performance in this mode. Dancers take years of very hard, gruelling work to reach performance level. No doubt he puts in woirk as well, but it’s his physical fitness more than anything that impresses. Grace is intrinsic to great dancing, and this srtyle of ‘dance’ just doesn’t have that. And an Olympic or similar level acrobat, including the girls who dance with long ribbons, are way beyond this.

    • nomi

      I don’t know about that. Dance is not something which you can define in strict terms anymore. I could say something similar about the “art” Camberwell College students are creating, but I would be wrong because who are we to delineate the confines of what is and what is not art?

      Isn’t it all subjective? I thought he demonstrated such agility and grace in his performance. It is unjust to disparage his performance as “not dance”. I have seen the Paris Opera Ballet perform, but the two situations are hardly comparable.

      It cannot only be about “dance”, but rather the love and belief that the artist brings to the fore. Asaf Goren imbued his performance with these qualities, and I felt that.

  • Adele Schaffer

    Amazing and beautiful to watch!