An Open Letter To The Frum Community – From Leah Forster

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clown.jpgSome of you may know me as a comedian, a jokester, and  a “yentatainer”. but I am also a human being. Recently, I have been very hurt by some of the actions in our community. As an  frum, heimish entertainer, (for women ONLY), I have worked extremely hard on maintaining a certain reputation. My humor is always appropriate ,and all my music is composed by myself (and not taken from any other sources.)

Therefore I was very disappointed to discover that a video I had made for Zichron Shlome Refuah Fund (a fantastic organization that none of us should ever need) had leaked on to the Internet. How it got  there is not important – there are too many fingers to point. But the fact remains that many people accepted “the forward”, watched it and re-forwarded it without a second thought.

I have made it clear ON NUMEROUS OCCASIONS – this video is stolen property – it belongs to ZSRF. I am offended that people have approached me with comments such as, “I’ve seen your Goyta video……..I know I wasn’t supposed to……but…..” This includes men, by the way, who had no shame in watching a stolen video with a woman singing and dancing.

No, I am not holier-than-thou, and anyone who knows me or has seen me perform knows that I love to have a good time, but DO NOT for one second think that I put the video out there for the whole world (non-Jews included) to see. I am so careful with the offers I get, turning down numerous opportunities to perform in mixed crowds or non- appropriate settings.

This is the message I would like to convey: Being in the public eye is a blessing. I get to make a difference and I love making people laugh. But I am a frum heimish lady who has her priorities straight. I have a family- they come first. This is something I do for fun- and I get to be involved in aiding Tzeddakah organizations raise money as well as bring an element of fun, frum entertainment for WOMEN only.

Thank you Yeshiva World for allowing this post and thank you to all those that have been kind enough to delete or not forward the video!!!

KEEP LAUGHING!




41 COMMENTS

  1. I didn’t know such a concept existed, much less get any emails about your stolen video, but I do feel badly for you that your tznius is violated by having men watch you on video, and that people are dan likav chov and call your video “goyta” and the like.

    May you be zocha to continue in your ways of chesed and bringing simchas hachayim to people, and may we all be zoche to the geula shileima bimheira viyameinu.

  2. when you work for the public sector ,and depend on it for your parnossah although you dont want it out there for free, however i think its the best compliment and its free advertising as well ,they only put you on there because they like what you do and want others to see the same
    i think i would relax and enjoy the attention

  3. I did not see the video and, knowing that there is a woman singing and dancing, definitely will not. I also have never even heard of her. I therefore do not know what, if anything, is done in the video that is not already known that she does. Either way, the only thing I can see as being against straight halacha is possibly lifney iver for the men who watched it. Even that is unclear considering the availability of much worse things online. In Choshen Mishpat the only issue according to many poskim is when it is something being sold and you are making the artist lose a potential sale. The letter implies that this is not the case. Lashon hara is also likely not applicable here since this was a video made for others to see, albeit a narrower audience. If there is nothing done in the video that is not already well known that she does in her skits (?) then noone told anyone anything new. Even so, a mitzva it isn’t, and if she is not happy about it then it is definitely not good midos to spread it. Those who have already done so were unaware of this feeling of hers and cannot be blamed. From now on it shouldn’t be spread further.

  4. Its sad, but I guess you’ll have to accept it. We are in a generation where the internet can so easily give someone unwanted publicity, it should have been expected, albeit not anticipated. The net is not policed, and peoples values are messed up or non-existant. Its an unfortunate situation. There is little you can achieve trying to change the situation, and it seems you’ve realized that. I can only sympathize…

  5. Interesting.
    When I watched it, on YouTube I believe, I had no idea it was belonged to ZSRF, although I was somewhat bewildered why a seemingly frum lady would sing/dance on a video like that. Now, I know and understand.
    But, Mrs. Forster, in today’s technology age – halachic issues aside – has to be aware of and assume in advance that any videos she makes stand a good chance of being made public such as this one was.
    She may be right but it’s a risk she’s taking as well.

  6. I watched the clip and have seen Forster act numberouse time, each time I am left in stitches! This is the first comedian in the Jewish world that can make me really laugh out loud!
    he humor is smart and thought out!
    Everyone loves to laugh and the work she does is amazing!
    If a man stooped so low to watch a woman act that is his problem!
    Leah – Keep up the great work and keep making other laugh!

  7. I watched the video without knowing it was stolen. I certainly would not have watched it had I known. (I’m a woman, BTW.) I have not and would not forwarded it in any case.

    However, I am concerned that making jokes based on offensive stereotypes of Yidden and non-Jews is what passes for “frum, heimish” entertainment. I personally found the video repugnant and would have walked out had I seen it performed in the setting for which it was intended.

  8. HaKatan – they people did not call the video “Goyta”. Mrs. Forster did. It is a skit about JAP’s needing cleaning help, etc.

    And Mrs. Forster, while you are 100% correct, it was to be expected. What did you think – that all videos remain private? Especially one made for a large organization? If you have issues with your work getting out – dont make videos!!

  9. i dont think half the ppl who got the email knew it was made for a oragnzation we all thought it was just some funny joke email getting around.sorry

  10. Again, this video was made as a parody
    ( obviously meant to prove a point about society we live in today- which is the beauty of her comedies- each piece has a moral and a lesson- nut just “abi” jokes….) for PRIVATE USE for a tzedaka organization. This letter is not about risks or rants, this is just to let people know that Leah Forster would not put herself out there for the world to see. She is careful about her reputation, and stated so in her letter. THAT IS ALL!!!!

  11. its the same idea as when ‘entertainers’ or artists complain about illegal downloading or piracy-u gotta take the good with the bad. if u cant hack it try a different line of business!

  12. Baki- there is so much schar waiting in olam haba for those that can make others laugh ( and I know that she does endless amount of hospital visiting, etc.)What better way than pick issues that Jewish Heimish woman can relate to and say, “Oy thats me????” This is all done in a tasteful yet funny matter ….

  13. After having seen for yourself the terrible Michshol that has resulted from your performing and making videos, you should think of putting an end to your performing career.
    There are enough ways to be mesameiach people without having to compromise on your Tznius. Leave the comedy and public performance to the men,(although they might not be as good as you)
    if not for extremely small groups where you can have absolute control, and you’re 100% positive that you’re not being recorded.

  14. To Leah Forester,

    I was one of those who saw the video on the internet, really enjoyed it and forwarded it without thinking. I owe you an apology. I completely understand your tyneh and I want to ask you for mechilah for my invasion of yours and the tzedokah’s property which I had no right to. I have learned a lesson and B”N will think twice in the future and hopefully not be oivere on this in the future.

    You are a very talented woman and I respect your talent and your high level of tzinus. May Hashem bless you that you may continue to use your talents for the benefit of Klal Yisroel.

    P.S. Rav Moishe Feinstein Z’tzl once told me personally that each person has a chiyuv to use whatever talents The Abishter blessed them with to bui uff Toirah. You are certainly be mekayim this.

  15. Gingy, you are very mistaken.
    Why does she have to leave the comedy for the men?
    Are women not supposed to use their talents given to them by Hashem? She is channeling her gifts for positive purposes.
    She was not performing for a mixed crowd…her performances are for women only.
    If a man chooses to view it, that is on his own head. What happened to personal responsibilty? Accountability for one’s own actions?
    Whoever put it on the internet was a thief.
    Would they have placed themselves out there for all to see on youtube? Imagine how violating that must feel.

  16. It would be nice if everyone who watched and/or forwarded the clip would make a donation to ZSRF. If anyone know show they could report to YouTube that it is an infringment of copyright, they will then take the clip down.
    Gingy, you obviously have no idea what women need, we thoroughly enjoy watching other women in comedy, men do not ‘do’ comedy or anything else for that matter, all the performances are by women for women! I am a proud member of just such a group in Manchester, UK – we aim to produce comedy in a professional manner and the Kehillo appreciates it. When we see men doing what we do then we can discuss the matter further, but in the meantime it is ONLY the women who do these things! (and actually the women desperately need the comic relief it provides!)

  17. Firstly, I wrote without, not besides. Secondly, it may be good to make people happy, and there are many sources for that, but only he done without letzonus. As i wrote earlier I have no clue what any of her performances are like.

  18. #11 is correct – i would say 90% of the ppl just got it as a funny email that they forwarded to friends so they can enjoy it too. I most certainly did not know it was a “stolen video”.
    It was very funny, by the way! I’m sorry your rights were violated. Keep up your good work!

  19. Dear Leah Forester, AMUSH
    I am very happy that I do not have much time to read all my emails, therefore, when I saw your letter to YW and remembered that I had gotten an email about you I deleted it immediately.

  20. If someone has stolen it, most websites will take it down for you. Look them up in whois.com or another register if you don’t know the host.

  21. #23 Entertaining women and giving them a kosher laugh, therby helping them to be mesameach and raising money for a choshuve tzedoka is “buing uff Toirah”.

    With regard to my note above. Rav Moishe Feinstein z’tzl told me that vort about using your talent to bui uff Toirah in answer to me when I came to him with a shyleh about a woman doing professional fund raising for a moisad. A chasheveh person had raised the issue to me of whether it was tzinus, being that it entailed going to men’s offices and businesses and speaking with them about the moisad and asking them to contribute money. Rav Moishe said that not only could I do it but he held that I had a chiyuv to do it if I had the talent and was sucessful at it.

    Leah Forester has been blessed by HKB”H with a wonderful talent which she uses in a tzenius derech for tzedokah. She should be g’benchted and continue AMV”SH.

  22. I am so sorry that this was leaked without your authority – I received it in an email and had no idea that it was for ZSRF. It was really enjoyable and I was amazed at your talent. The timing, the songs, the concept were all executed really well. Thank you for posting this letter as it should prevent people from forwarding this video anymore. As far as the damage that was done, it can’t be repaired, but I guess you can pat yourself on the back for being such a success!

  23. Bas Yisroel #18: There is no kuntz, and therefore likely no value in asking mechila anonomously, from behind a screen name on a computer.

  24. Leah, Please ignore all those posts that cast any doubts on whether you are doing a good thing in making people laugh – I don’t know exactly where, but I believe the Gemara says some pretty good stuff about people who raise other people’s spirits in this way.

    For all those who may need some explanation: When a person prepares a skit or comedy for a private audience (no matter how large), they know who they are speaking to, and the performance may include things that are simply not intended to be public. Regardless if those things are acceptable to or appreciated by those watching it, the audience is limited.

    for example: a skit, produced for a large family reunion or simcha, which may include pictures of young children. The fact that it is not intended for the public, and not appropriate to be spread freely without permission does not make it retroactively wrong to have been produced!

    That being said, even for those who consider themselves internet saavy because they use the web often for research, paying bills, email, shopping, etc, PLEASE NOTE:

    Any file, once it is digital(read: available to read on a computer), for example, a document, a picture, a video clip, can be copied and pasted anywhere. That means in an email, on a blog, or on my company’s website! It takes seconds to do this.

    If the information is private property, or contains illegal content (stolen merchandise advertisement), it is ILLEGAL in the U.S. to make a copy/send/post it, but certainly EASY TO DO.

    This happens literally millions of times a day! The US govt may go after large offenders IN THE U.S., but they will not – and can not go after every illegal copy/paste/post activity. And if the person doing this lives outside the U.S., (Canada, Israel, Britain, Nigeria), the U.S. is POWERLESS to prosecute even if they DID catch the violater. It is up to the owner of the property to pursue and prosecute anyone who steals, or misuses their digital property – Quite a difficult task, considering that they may be ANYWHERE in the WORLD!

    The web is the Wild West!

    Many (most?) email addresses are not secure, and hackers can actually scan files being transfered over the web. For example, if I make a skit for my family, and email it to my brother for his opinion before the family gathering, it is no longer secure, unless it was transfered using a secure connection. (That is the little “lock” icon that shows up [hopefully] on the bottom of your browser when you are entering information into the website of your bank, electric company, or L.L. Bean Sale catalog).

    MANY PEOPLE DO NOT KNOW THIS, AND GET HURT. Please be smart about using this powerful tool called the Internet. There ARE ways to encrypt (lock) your information, and/or send it ONLY using a SECURE connection. Think about this BEFORE you send ANYTHING, to ANYONE over an internet connection!

    Anyone can copy and paste what you write to them when you are angry, and forward it to all your friends! Sure they’d be doing numerous aveiros in the process – Shmiras HaLoshon, Gezeila, G’neivas Da’as…, but they can, and many people do. BE SMART and BE CAREFUL.

    There was an Adam Gadol, perhaps more than a century ago, who commented on new technology (it may have been the telephone), that one reason H-Shem gives us these things to help us get a better idea of what it really means when it says in Pirkei Avos:
    “Ayin Ro-ah, Ozen Shomaas, V’Chol Ma’asecha B’Sefer Nichtavim…”

    (There is an Eye that sees, an Ear that hears, and all of your deeds [however private] are being written in a book…)

    Bottom line: if it must be sent, and it must remain private, find out how to professionally protect it BEFORE you send it.

    If you did not benefit from this post, please forgive its length, and move on! If this information was helpful to you, I’m glad – and Feel Free To Share It! I would not have posted it on this wonderful site if I had any hakpada on it being copied and pasted 🙂

  25. I actually got the email from a co-worker who is a chassidishe man, I was shocked that he had no busha to send it to me, and make me aware that he watched it. I am a woman by the way. (sruly is my husband) we share the comment name. It was really cute!!

  26. I think that what many of you dont realize that the stealing issue is not the main issue. The issue at hand was that the letter was written so that ppl can understand that Leah would not post herself for everyone to see. She wants to let the public know that she would never stoop to the desperate level of posting any videos of herself ONLINE for anyone to see. Not everything is about the money- (and anyone who has ANY experience with youtube knows that it is almost impossible to retreive a video once it has been posted- there is a ridiculous amount of paperwork involve) the point she was trying to make was that she is , was, and will always be careful about her material making sure it remains in the right hands- BUT she cannot take responsibility for the thoughtlessness of others- It is not about the money ( there is no big money for a woman entertainer and most of the events are tzeddaka organizations with budgets) It is about her reputation- which she obviously works so hard to maintain

  27. everyone just stop hocking and please feel bad for leah forster obviously in her wildest dreams she didnt imagine that this would happen and its really not nice for so many of u to knock her and yes laitzanus is assur but not if its done in the rite way wat about chasidim who make gramin or make jokes by mitzva tanz or stam in camps an schools when they make skits there r alot of reall machanchim/chos who r whatching them and aproove of it. and lets atleast get are entertaiment from such sources and not other places!!!

  28. #35 Helloow,
    It doesn’t make a difference what her wildest dreams are, when something is wrong we must make a machah. Laitzanus & lack of Tznius is something that is inexcusable. The same thing with lady’s cd’s that say on it for men only but they know good and well how many men hear it. This terrible lack of Tznius must be stopped!

  29. you must call urself a hocker for a reason- am I the only one who beleives that our yidden are a good nation? and when something says “for women only…” majority of our nation knows that it excludes men and wouldnt dream of listening to it- I think its commendable that Leah provides GOOD APPROPRIATE kosher entertainment for women only and AGAIN Hocker- where is the “lack of tznius” in that?
    But please, do keep hocking for the sake of hocking- its too kind of you as one of klal yisroel

  30. Naive #37, “For women only” means that it’s never possible for a husband to come home to his wife listening to a lady’s cd or his daughter blasting it in her room or it being left in the car? It is a tremendous lack of tznius for women to entertain they should instead fulfill their tafkid of being the Akeres Habayis.

  31. yeshivish hocker- i too happen to know men that listened to a ladys cd but u know what they arent the norm they were a shtikle frei most people who are frum jews and listen to das torah would not listen to a ladys cd so your point is invalid

  32. Yeshivish Hocker, you are trying to bring the Arab veil mentality into Judaism!!

    A woman, just like a man, has a RIGHT and an OBLIGATION to use her talents for good things. If someone does not use their God-given aptitudes during their lifetime, it’s like receiving a gift, never opening it, and having it returned to the giver when you die.

    You are SO WRONG and I cannot stress that enough.

  33. HOCKER- I will say this- yes, it is not tznius IN FRONT OF MEN – that is halacha clear cut- but for women BY women?????? If its appropriate, raises money for tzeddaka, and provides women with with a much need laugh? Do you have a source for that statement- or AGAIn… Just Hocking??? HMMMM????Or perhaps trying to justify the fact that you have been oiver on an a lav- lets be clear- in truth, you get the point of the letter – Leah Forster was just letting ppl know that SHE has not posted herself out there for the world to see- but you just like to HOCK- ( I think we are the fools for indulging your shtiss staments)

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