Bais Din Proclaims There Can Be TWO Uncle Moishys

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The Machon Le’Hora’ah has weighed in on a dispute about who owns the name “Uncle Moishy,” and who can perform the songs that the performer has sung for 40 years.

The Wikipedia entry for “Uncle Moishy and the Mitzvah Men” says that the group began in Toronto in 1975. The original members included Moshe Tanenbaum, Zale Newman and Chaim Shainhouse. Their first album, according to the website, was released in 1979.

With the trademark Hebrew letter mem affixed to his black fedora, Uncle Moishy has brought joy to children around the world ever since. Uncle Moishy and his Brooklyn-based production company, Suki & Ding Productions, have produced 22 albums and 14 videos.

But some time ago, Tanenbaum’s relationship with Suki & Ding soured, following a dispute over money and who owned the Uncle Moishy character. The case went to the rabbinical court.

In a ruling delivered last October and clarified in the last few weeks, the beis din found that while the songs and music of Uncle Moishy belong to Suki & Ding, both parties may use the stage name “Uncle Moishy.”

Tanenbaum then moved to anther production company, Sonic Duo Productions, and continues to perform and record as Uncle Moishy.

Meanwhile, Suki & Ding found a new Uncle Moishy, Rabbi Yossi Berktin, a long-time Toronto children’s musician and entertainer who goes by the moniker “Rabbi B.”

Read More: CJN

 


33 COMMENTS

  1. Interesting ruling considering one of the rabbis sat on the din Torah for a well known Hasidic sect and ruled you can’t have 2 entities with the same name which is crazy considering how many sects with same names are out there however on a true business the same so called Rabbi has no problems with 2 uncle Moishy

  2. If they paskened that the songs & music belong to Suki & Ding, what will the original Uncle Moishe sing? Only new original pieces? Everybody wants to hear all the good old classics. So sad for the machlokes.

  3. It’s clearly ginavas daas. When someone is buying ticket for uncle Moishy or going to by a CD , no where does it say which one it is. Everyone should protest. The FAKE one should be put in charim for stealing someone’s identity. THIS IS IDENTITY THEFT. Disgusting how a person could do this. Bais Dins are unfortunately NOT ALWAYS CORRECT.

  4. Who asked Beis Din that they should be the only Uncle Moishy — Suki & Ding or the original performer?

    Or did both insist on being the only one but B”D ruled against both and said both can use the name?

  5. To common sense:
    “Bais Dins are unfortunately NOT ALWAYS CORRECT…”

    Azoy… so if you don’t agree with the ruling from the Bei din, you are free to claim “they got it wrong” and ignore the outcome. In this case, if the original “Uncle Moishy” assigned rights to the production company, than it would be what you call “ginavas daas” for him to subsequently claim he should be allowed to perform those songs on behalf of a different production company. He certainly has the right to buy back those rights but otherwise, he has no more claim to those songs than Uncle Yanky or his Shver.
    g

  6. It seems from your comments that you didn’t understand the Bais Din’s reasoning. They didn’t and wouldn’t allow someone else to use the name Uncle Moishy . Here however they concluded that the company Suki and Ding who Moishy worked for and Moishy Tanenbaum himself, both share the rights to the name Uncle Moishy. The new Uncle Moishy is working for Suki and Ding who own the name and rights to Uncle Moishy .

  7. When the Marx Bros. were threatened with a suit by Warner Bros. over “A Night in Casablanca” Groucho sent this reply, which caused them to drop the suit:

    Dear Warner Brothers:

    Apparently there is more than one way of conquering a city and holding it as your own. For example, up to the time that we contemplated making a picture, I had no idea that the City of Casablanca belonged exclusively to Warner Brothers.

    However, it was only a few days after our announcement appeared that we received a long, ominous legal document, warning us not to use the name “Casablanca”.

    It seems that in 1471, Ferdinand Balboa Warner, the great-great grandfather of Harry and Jack, while looking for a short cut to the city of Burbank, had stumbled on the shores of Africa and, raising his alpenstock, which he later turned in for a hundred shares of common, named it Casablanca.

    I just don’t understand your attitude. Even if they plan on re-releasing the picture, I am sure that the average movie fan could learn to distinguish between Ingrid Bergman and Harpo. I don’t know whether I could, but I certainly would like to try.

    You claim you own Casablanca and that no one else can use that name without their permission. What about Warner Brothers — do you own that, too? You probably have the right to use the name Warner, but what about Brothers? Professionally, we were brothers long before you were. When Vitaphone was still a gleam in the inventor’s eye, we were touring the sticks as the Marx Brothers and even before us, there had been other brothers — the Smith Brothers; the Brothers Karamazoff; Dan Brouthers, an outfielder with Detroit; and “Brother, can you spare a dime?” This was originally “Brothers, can you spare a dime” but this was spreading a dime pretty thin so they threw out one brother, gave all the money to the other brother and whittled it down to “Brother, can you spare a dime?”

    The younger Warner Brother calls himself Jack. Does he claim that, too? It’s not an original name — it was used long before he was born. Offhand, I can think of two Jacks — there was Jack of “Jack and the Beanstalk”, and Jack, the Ripper, who cut quite a figure in his day. As for Harry, the older brother, he probably signs his checks, sure in the belief that he is the first Harry of all time and that all other Harrys are impostors. Offhand, I can think of two Harrys that preceded him. There was Lighthorse Harry of Revolutionary fame and a Harry Appelbaum who lived on the corner of Ninety-third Street and Lexington Avenue. Appelbaum wasn’t very well known — I’ve almost forgotten what he looked like — the last I heard of him, he was selling neckties at Weber and Heilbroner; but I’ll never forget his mother, she made the best apple strudle in Yorkville.

    We now come to the Burbank studio. This is what the Warner Brothers call their place. Old man Burbank is gone. Perhaps you remember him — he was a great man in a garden, he was the wizard who crossed all those fruits and vegetables until he had the poor plants in such a confused and nervous state, that they never were sure whether they were supposed to come in on the meat platter or the dessert dish.

    This is just conjecture, of course, but, who knows — perhaps Burbank survivors aren’t too happy over the fact that a plant that grinds out pictures settled in their town, appropriated Burbank’s name and uses it as a front for their films.

    It is even possible that the Burbank family is prouder of the potato produced by the old man than they are of the fact that from this town emerged “Casablanca” or even “Gold Diggers of 1931”.

    This all seems to add up to a pretty bitter tirade but I don’t mean it to. I love Warners — some of my best friends are Warner Brothers. It is even possible that I am doing them an injustice and that they themselves know nothing at all about this dog-in-the-Wanger attitude. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to discover that the heads of Warners’ legal department know nothing about this dispute for I am acquainted with many of them and they are fine fellows with curly black hair, double-breasted suits and a love of their fellow man that out-Saroyans “Dr. Gillespie”. I have a hunch that his attempt to prevent us from using the title is the scheme of some ferret-faced shyster serving an apprenticeship in their legal department. I know the type — hot out of law school, hungry for success and too ambitious to follow the natural laws of promotion, this bar sinister probably needled Warners’ attorneys, most of whom are fine fellows with curly black hair, double-breasted suits, etc., in attempting to enjoin us.

    Well, he won’t get away with it! We’ll fight him to the highest court! No pasty-faced legal adventurer is going to cause bad blood between the Warners and the Marxes. We are all brothers under the skin and we’ll remain friends till the last reel of “A Night in Casablanca” goes tumbling over the spool.

  8. Can anyone who has an intelligent opinion on this and basic knowledge of copyright law explain why the original uncle m would retain a right to a concept developed and produced by S&D? I don’t want to here rants from people with no clue why the original would be wrong. I want to know what his tzad is bichlal.

  9. What kind of message are we sending our children? When our kids listen to Uncle Moishy sing about Mitzvas and Sholom, then they hear about this situation, what are they to think? It is very confusing to them and somebody should Man Up and say , you know what , for the sake of Yiddishe Kinderlach, let me do the right thing and be mevater. Afterall parnassah comes from Hashem.

  10. Toi- because it wasn’t. Uncle Moishy went by the name Uncle Moishy before he was produced by Suki & Ding. The songs, however, were mostly from Suki & Ding which is why they retain ownership on that. I don’t know who designed the costume but it may have been done in conjunction.

  11. Were both “Uncle Moishey”‘s a party to this Beis Din (making it a ruling binding on both), or was this only an advisory opinion made at the request on one party to the dispute and not binding on the other side (who presumably has its own rav who might very well being giving contrary advice).

  12. Many beit dins are reasonably sophisticated in matters of intellectual property rights and where they are not, most will seek out expert input from an independent source before issuing their psak. Secular law outcomes is something many will consider although it obviously does not control their analysis under Halacha. While not always, their decisions on IP matters typically align closely to secular law on the subject. In this case, it appears that they gave due consideration to the legal rights that were assigned and those that were retained and their decision simply reflects what Uncle Moishy himself had agreed to years earlier (although he might today regret his earlier bargain).

  13. White car, my 4 year old knows nothing about chasidishe rebbes let alone their machlokes. However she does know all uncle Moishy songs and one day I will buy the other uncle Moishy and she will see the difference and I will need to explain to get the fiasco
    But when chasidishe parents need to explain to their children why their rebbes are arguing they will tell then it’s like bais shamai and bais hill arguing.

  14. I walked into the Bais Din, my favorite one in town
    The Dayan sat there stoically, and on his face a frown
    He said what is the case, what is the matter please
    I said, there’s no way in the world there can be Two Uncle Moishys

    The psak came real quick, for Suki and Ding
    They had the rights for all those songs, that we love to sing
    There will also be, Two Mems on the black hat
    Even though Dr Seuss is saying it belongs to his cat

    Oy, oy, yoy vay, oy yoy yoy vay, oy yoy yoy vay

    Now the kosher song, and I’ve got a Jewish name
    Jumping, dancing, laughing, clapping just won’t be the same
    What about Nochum, Does he have a cousin too
    There’s a rumor, Gedalia Gumba’s threatening to sue

    Who’s it going to be, Berktin or Tannenbaum
    Who’ll get to be at MSG, with Bello the clown
    The mitzvah men confused, there’s now two Uncle Mo
    It’s become like Satmar, in Willy and Monroe

    Oy, oy, yoy vay, oy yoy yoy vay, oy yoy yoy vay

  15. Horrified
    Going to a Din Torah in Beis Din is not called Machlokes.
    it’s a Mitzva to settle disagreements in Beis Din.

    Smartest comment on the forum!

  16. Having had a case before a bais din that was totally one sided, even when the bais din was informed that the other side had brought the case to secular court two hours before they brought it to bais din, the bais din many months later backed down begrudgingly and removed the seruv on me. However, it was the secular court that ordered the other side to have the seruv removed and also that they would not collect the money they were seeking, and would, in fact, end up paying money. I can say that at least one bais din (and maybe many) are total clowns who decide a case having heard only one side.

  17. “The new Uncle Moishy’s name is not Moishy, so he should not be allowed to deceive children by calling himself Moishy.”

    Agreed….maybe just pick some totally contrived name so no one will be confused or insulted….How about something like “Rebyiddel23”