BEING ERASED • “Before Jealousy, Who Can Stand?” (Prov. 27:4)
“Gentlemen, I do not propose to allow myself to be buried until I am actually dead.” – Noah Webster
“Bruce, the only ‘professional’ things about Kol Simcha are your songwriting and piano-playing.” – Joel Chernoff of LAMB (Said during 1990s, when Bruce Cohen was still in Kol Simcha.)
“Everybody knew that the burning force behind this group (Kol Simcha) was Bruce (Cohen).” – Messianic Jewish Worship Leader, Jerusalem (2005)
“We (Kol Simcha) are asking Joe, ‘when can Bruce come back to lead some rehearsals?’ and, ‘Will he compose any new music for us?’” – Kol Simcha Member, confiding the state of Kol Simcha after Bruce Cohen left the group in 1990.
A colleague’s website from Israel today drew my attention to the YouTube page of “Yossi Bar Negev” aka, “Joe Finkelstein – the former leader of the music group Kol Simcha in which I served from 1978 to 1990.
What I have written here embarks from that serendipitous encounter today with his YouTube channel. With Finkelstein having been caught in, and having confessed to, having done terrible and criminal harms to me, my family, and my workin the early-to-mid-1990s (see his confession document here) ––– it turns out, in 2022, he is still doing those harms. And so …
I model what I write here on the approach King David modeled for us in 1Samuel 26:16-19. When a jealousy-driven madman was doing him relentless harm, and enlisting the sympathy of others with lies, King David stood up with evidence of King Saul’s criminality and proclaimed aloud his royal father-in-law’s guilt openly, in the presence of the entire army serving Saul. I attempt to do the same here regarding the harms Joe Finkelstein has relentlessly been visiting on me since the day I caught his hand in the cookie jar – and held him accountable for it.
It is high time that I – as psychologists call it – “name the frame.”
On or via Joe Finkelstein’s “Yossi Bar-Negev” YouTube channel and its CCM Music daughter-links is available every Kol Simcha album in existence … except one.
The missing album is Dawning Of A New Day – on which the name, “Bruce Cohen” is everywhere: with my having composed 6 of the 10 songs on it, co-produced it, arranged most of it, executive produced it, and played piano on 9 of 10 tracks.
It is for the sole reason of my ubiquitous presence in the sound and the credits – that album has been erased from Kol Simcha’s discography by Joe Finkelstein and his Philadelphian cadre under the Chernoff family and their crew who covered-up for him when a long streak of criminal misconduct by Finkelstein came into the open.
Even now – some 23 years on – I still get hit in the present with the continuation of a decades-long pattern of theft and dishonesty and violence by an unrepentant criminal, Joe Finkelstein – and his political cronies who covered and still cover up for him.
The graphic below is concrete evidence of the extremes of harm-doing, dishonesty, and sinning to which jealousy, and fear of facing one’s own limitations, seem to have driven Joe Finkelstein. “Driven” is not to say Joe is any kind of victim: his choices are entirely his own responsibility.
What you see below are the digital song information files from the most recent CD of the 1988 Dawning Of A New Day album by Kol Simcha.
There are six indisputable instances of felony copyright theft, with malicious intent to erase my name –– as I will explain below.
The same reason this album is currently (May 2022) missing from the Yossi Bar Negev YouTube Channel with all the other Kol Simcha albums, seems to have also been the reason Joe Finkelstein broke the law, committing six literal felonies for each of which the penalty is up to 5 years in prison and $250,000 fine. Finkelstein, in the Dawning album’s digital files on CD and Internet, stole credit for writing the lyrics and music for entirely Bruce Cohen-originated songs, and gave entirely false credit to himself and the entire group, Kol Simcha, as if my songs were all “ensemble” products of the whole group’s work and creativity. They were not. That “ensemble” impression is an absolute lie.
I should note, I composed most of my many Kol Simcha songs while holding down a full time job as a private-school teacher/chief-administrator and teaching leader in my local congregation; and I often worked in the “wee hours” of the night while my Kol Simcha comrades were soundly sleeping in their beds. My music creation was a passion-and-vision-driven labor of love, and it did not matter to me it had to be crammed into whatever time I could find in an already packed schedule of service.
My devoted late-night composing schedule was especially true in the mid-1980s, when Joe Finkelstein had a nervous breakdown, and I was, in loyalty-driven support of Finkelstein, at all hours of the day and night feverishly creating and then on Tuesday evenings rehearsing Kol Simcha’s members in new songs to keep them from being boredom-driven to leave the group. Finkelstein was barely functional during his breakdown, and was giving no leadership whatsoever to the group, nor was he creating any new arrangements for the group to perform.
Beth Yeshua’s then-Rabbi Martin Chernoff, was deeply concerned for Finkelstein’s survival of a season of personal domestic and vocational disasters that were entirely Finkelstein’s own fault. He was the only elder on Beth Yeshua’s board who was not a “boss” of his own business: he made a try to become a boss by with an unwise investment in a gym business he had no skills to run (“David Health & Fitness”), and jeopardized his retirement funds by so doing; and his family had fallen into a state so unhealthy every voice in his life was pleading with him get professional counseling – which he refused. This is not hearsay: I was in the room with his then-rabbi and elders when the tried and failed to move Joe to get the help he needed. Martin Chernoff told me directly, “Bruce, I am worried Joe can’t handle all this pressure he is not used to. It might give him a heart-attack.” Chernoff asked me if I would be willing with others to give to a fund to help Joe’s failing business survive, which I did. And, I “carried” Joe with Kol Simcha and Chalutzim Day School for a very serious period of time – but this was a great unspoken secret in Philadelphia. No one could mention Finkelstein’s collapse, or my energetic support for him. It was a taboo subject.
WHY NOT “FORGIVE & FORGET?”
People ask me, why don’t you just forget about it and “move on?”
The answer is simple: whenever I do, it washes back up again on the shores of my life, unsought.
As “it” did on 16 May 2022.
I am still being erased.
I wonder if anyone who is not a creative artist can fathom the pain and harm coming from having one’s highly-regarded work-output of over a decade erased – especially, just to prop a criminal’s ego and cover up for his misdeeds.
The Ephesians 4:32 exhortation to us as Believers to “forgive one another as God has, in Messiah, forgiven us” is often misapplied in Two-Testament faith communities to mean, “Just forgive everyone of everything.” The above Scripture points to how God has ‘forgiven us in Messiah’ as the model of our mandate. NO ONE WHO DOES NOT REPENT HAS ANY FORGIVENESS BEFORE GOD “IN MESSIAH.” (Acts 2:38)
Joe Finkelstein has not repented of anything – especially the root causes of what he confessed in 1995 in print (see link here) and verbally to the entire group Kol Simcha when he was caught in his several-year swath of sinning against me by theft and slander and abuse of his office as an Elder in Philadelphia’s Beth Yeshua congregation.
UNREPENTED PAST SINS KEEP DOING HARM IN THE PRESENT
Joe Finkelstein is still erasing an album into which I put some $12,000 of my own savings at a time when I was only earning $20,000 a year as a religious school teacher & administrator; into creation of which I poured countless hours of work outside and inside the recording studio, and more hours and days rehearsing the group in, and “touring” the music, performing with Kol Simcha all over the USA, and from Canada to Israel. Just, erased.
Any sane soul would ask, “Why?”
WHY JOE DID WHAT HE DID – AND IS STILL DOING
While he had a good ear for vocal harmonizing, Joe was not a music or arts professional, as I was. He was, in fact a low-level industrial chemist by profession. I was a performing artist and writer, by profession and by training in the highest echelons of the American college and theater systems. Joe seemed to have gotten ego-drunk on the place my trained chops earned Kol Simcha, and somehow to have convinced himself it was all coming from him and his leadership of the group. Then I left – and nothing of what I brought remained – and everyone seeing it, and soon complaining about it – and the people in Kol Simcha asking for my return.
Joe’s personality just seemed to have shattered under the weight of the truth.
I was and am being erased. 12 years of my life. Ten-thousands of my invested dollars.
12 years is the same amount of time that took me from Kindergarten to College.
12 years is the same amount of time that took me from my 1st birthday to my Bar Mitzvah.
12 years is 3x the amount of time I spent in Prep School – and again, 3x the time I spent in College.
12 years is the length of time from my congregation’s 1993 planting til my eldest son’s 2005 Bar Mitzvah in Jerusalem.
“JUST LET GOD BE YOUR JUSTIFIER”
Believing colleagues often demand of me, “Just forget about it!”
John DeLaughter, who prosecuted Medgar Ever’s murder thirty years after the fact, said very well why dealing out unmet justice is necessary: “There is no time limit on justice.” In addition, Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Justice delayed is justice denied.” I say, “Amen.” This is all the more true when an unrepentant harm-doer has not made restitution for his harms done; and is still doing them and/or profiting off them.
As I said above – the harms done and still being done do not forget about me, even into the present.
Passively allow myself be buried while I am still alive?
Passively watch my life and work erased?
Paul ridiculed such abuse-tolerating choices in 2Corinthians 11:20 ––– and Noah Webster said beautifully, “Gentlemen, I do not proposed to allow myself to be buried until I am actually dead.”
Beyond this, the core criminals in these matters are, appallingly, still posturing themselves as “spiritual leaders” and have the gall to stand on stages calling people to “get right with God” while they, themselves, do criminal and unethical deeds as “standard operating procedure.” (See Lamentations 4:12, Zephaniah 3:3-4, Ezekiel 22:26)
People advise me, “Just do nothing, and let God bring justice.”
Well – it’s been approaching 30 years. Why no justice?
Well-meaning, but Scripture-misunderstanding Believers tend to ignore that in Scripture, God reserves only “vengeance” (נקם) for Himself. “Justice” (משפט) God makes our responsibility, and commands us, “Speak up for justice for the orphan and the widow.” (Those without a champion.) The community of faith has mandate from God to “do” justice (Micah 6:8); not just admire it. Rectification of harms done unjustly to other human beings is a job God firmly placed into our human hands. (Deut. 19:19)
Regarding Finkelstein’s horrific deception and theft ––– almost all of Kol Simcha have never written a song in their lives, and none of any who did write a few songs ever obtained the level of standing mine did; songs The Messianic Times newspaper’s Music Section reviewed my songs as having become “… standards, sung everywhere there is Messianic Judaism. If you have been in Messianic Judaism for any length of time, you know these songs. They helped create the entire genre we now call, ‘Messianic.’” (Just click the above Messianic Times link to read the review.)
When Kol Simcha’s quality cratered ––– the clarity that fact brought into the light seemed to drive Joe Finkelstein literally insane.
It was as King Saul reacted when he heard the mobs in the streets singing, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten-thousands.” Having their ‘junior’ partner’s talents recognized as more seminal and contributory than their own … it drove both men murder-mad.
King Saul spent a jealousy-driven decade trying to kill his son-in-law.
Joe Finkelstein and his Chernoff cover-up crew in Philadelphia have for 23 years now been attempting to render me “dead” for all intents and purposes: invisible and non-existent, past and present; mostly to cover up for Finkelstein’s and their own anti-ethical and criminal misconduct directed at harming and marginalizing me outside due process, allowing Finkelstein to continue in “business as usual” and even be raised into higher office by David Chernoff (Finkelstein’s crimes coming to light just as Chernoff was announcing his elevation into the rabbinate), despite Finkelstein being directly Biblically disqualified from holding any office (Ex. 18:21, 1Tim. 3) – and for David & Joel Chernoff to avoid accounting for their sprees of sinful and/or criminal misconduct covering up for Finkelstein. Bruce & Debi Cohen had to be “disappeared.”
Perhaps the most appalling disregard for Biblical standards in the cover-up occurred when David Chernoff, as lead influencer in the MJAA’s clergy organization, the IAMCS, put Joe Finkelstein up for … wait for it … Treasurer … of the Rabbi’s organization right after Finkelstein had been discovered in – and tried to lie his way out of – several years of theft and horrific and harmful dishonesty, totally disqualifying of Finkelstein for ordinal standing (deacon, elder, or overseer). Chernoff not only ordained him into the rabbinate, but made him an officer among Rabbis! This was a clear effort by Chernoff to cover up Finklestein’s unrepented crimes by piling honors and affirmations over top of them.
That is why “Dawning Of A New Day” is not on the ‘Yossi Bar Negev’ YouTube channel or any of the links embarking from it.
The name “Bruce Cohen” is ALL OVER that missing album, just as my MY CREATIVE OUTPUT AND INFLUENCE is IN nearly every moment of it. And the next album KS did without me … well … stunk. That is not some kind of pride of mine speaking. It was the reaction I ran into everywhere to KS’s next album after I left: an artistic (and moral) nightmare called, Let God Arise.
When Let God Arise was released (on which Joe deliberately broke his contract (he later confessed) having excluded me with deception and evasion from being in the studio when my songs were being recorded – which was the one specific condition on which I allowed him to use 4 of my songs on that 3rd album) … the result was an album so terribly lower in quality than Dawning that the head of another music ministry approached me after the 3rd album’s release, and asked me, “Bruce, what on earth happened to that new (Kol Simcha) album? It’s terrible!” My reply was simply, “I was not in the studio for a single minute of any session: it was just Joe using my songs (under contract conditions Finkelstein deliberately broke, as he later confessed).”
So – with this link, I here direct you to my “greatest hits” album on iTunes” FALL UPON US NOW” by Bruce Cohen, where you can hear the difference between my and Finkelstein’s studio work.
The first 10 songs are from my “Kol Simcha” era. Tracks 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6 are from “Dawning.” Tracks 4,7, 8, and 9 are from “Let God Arise.” In the “Dawning” tracks, you can hear my piano at the core of the music, and my studio-producing all over it.
In “Let God Arise” tracks, all you hear instrumentals an entirely artificial orchestra of Joe Finkelstein’s creation; and Finkelstein plays no musical instrument. I compose, arrange, and play several musical instruments at professional level. So affirmed composer Joel Chernoff in the professional music duo, LAMB: “Bruce, the only ‘professional’ things about Kol Simcha are your songwriting and piano-playing.” When Joel was President of the IMJA, and wrote a letter recommending me for a post as an Editor of the IMJA’s quarterly Messianic Jewish Life Magazine (see letter at link here), he wrote, “Bruce Cohen is an accomplished and popular Messianic songwriter” as one of my qualifications for such a high post of service. Other religious websites affirmed these views. See their links here: MessianicMusic.Com and the UK’s “CrossRhythms.“
If you go on my website to this link for a Live album of KS performances, you can hear Kol Simcha‘s actual vocal quality, and my piano-playing’s place in the group’s performing presence.
At a testimonial birthday party held for me in Jerusalem at the King David Hotel in 2005, a Jerusalem worship leader rose to speak of my career impact. He said,
“Kol Simcha use to play for hours at the summer Messianic conferences, and the Spirit of God was just so powerful and present whenever they did; and everybody knew that the burning force behind this group (Kol Simcha) was Bruce (Cohen).”
Everybody knew … but nobody said. Saying it out loud was verboten.
However – when I left Kol Simcha in 1990, and the group’s quality sank like a stone, the self-inflating false impression Finkelstein had been propping for years was impossible for Finkelstein to maintain.
When I was no longer in rehearsals, performances, or the music studio ––– His plagiaristic façade was exposed. This, I believe, is what psychologists call, “Narcissistic Collapse.” The false stories one has been telling oneself fall apart, leaving the deceiver visible in his or her actual form. After I left Kol Simcha, it shortly became clear where Kol Simcha’s recording, composing, and performing quality was actually coming from; and where it was most definitely not.
This truth having surface seemed to, like the song about King David’s impact did to King Saul, drive Joe mad. (See 1Samuel 18:7-8)
Having erased my name from my songs on our CD’s digital files, and replaced it with his group’s name Finkelstein was committing a kind of creative-arts theft and murder.
- There is no telling how many $10,000’s of dollars my family has been cost by my music and my musical presence being buried alive.
- There is no telling how much pain and suffering (and lost creative product from it) has gone with the experience.
- There is no quantifying what it means for a creative artist’s trail of credit for his output to be wiped from history. (See a graphic representing some of my 40 years of product contributions, alone, below: this excludes institution-building and service portfolio.
I experienced one example of this toxic ripple-effect of this “erasure” when, in 2000, I was the keynote speaker for South Africa’s National Messianic Jewish “Millennium” Conference at the University Of Cape Town in August 2000.
A leading rabbinic colleague in South Africa told me, “Bruce, I was just recently surprised to find out you wrote so many of those great worship songs by Kol Simcha we’ve been using here in South Africa!” I asked him, since my credits are in the CD’s digital song files, how he could be so surprised. He was not quite sure. So, on a hunch, I dug up my own copies of the CDs and looked at the digital credit files for each song: on “Dawning Of A New Day,” my name had been erased and replaced with “Kol Simcha.” On “Let God Arise,” the files said “B. cohen.” (with small “c”) There was a Chernoff close-associate named “Bob Cohen,” and Finkelstein appeared to be trying with plausible deniability to make it seem “Bob” Cohen – not Bruce Cohen – was the author of those 4 Cohen songs on Let God Arise. The man was so sick with whatever was driving him, he could literally not bring himself to write my name into the credit files of songs for which I was the sole lyricist and composer.
Finkelstein’s entire trail in this is deeply, deeply sick, hateful, and dishonest.
And to this day, it still is. I ran into its ongoing disgusting footprint today, 16 May 2022.
Criminality – the gift that keeps on taking.
Since digital files are forever, all forward presence of my songs via Kol Simcha song-tracks will be with my name erased, and Kol Simcha’s/Finkelstein illegitimately and falsely replacing mine. My 13-year musical contribution to musical and religious history during my Kol Simcha years will be stolen. And I had originated a great deal of impactful inventions in the wider sphere of Two-Testament Jewish faith music as an art form during my Kol Simcha era:
- I was the first modern Messianic Jewish worship instrumentalist to keep playing once a song was over, using the themes to create a framework for extemporaneous worship by the congregation. This came from my Scripture study of worship: especially, the “higgai’yon” mentioned in Psalm 9:16, and “Selah” mentioned elsewhere.
- I was the first to compose a scored worship song with a repeating scored background against which a vocal soloist would “freestyle” in extemporaneous worship. (“Who Do You Know”)
- I was the first to create Broadway show-tune formats combined with broad choral harmonies and classical counterpoint (I got my inspiration from Beethoven’s 9th and Meredith Wilson’s The Music Man for this) for worship-group performances; and including composed spaces for original dances choreographers created for the specific original music.
- I was the first to compose a full classical-style a capella piece: a vocal fugue for SATB chorus. (“V’Ahavtah”)
- I was the first to compose and play worship music driven by high-velocity, percussive piano, as “‘collaborative’ (specifically vocals-supportive) piano.”
When Finkelstein confessed (<– see his witnessed confession link here) to his many jealousy-driven crimes against me (after trying for hours to lie his way out), and only giving up when so much evidence and eyewitness testimony made his lies impossible to continue) he wrote in his confession,
“You (Bruce) certainly always served (in Kol Simcha) nobly and well, and gave us most of our original music.”
But he did not stop there.
He said, “You (Bruce Cohen) have been, above all, a faithful friend.
That, my reader, is an understatement. And the truth of it makes Joe’s betraying harm-doing all the more a crime of “returning evil for good.”
I stood by him during his nervous breakdown when both his family and his career were tanking; and I worked myself to near exhaustion covering for his absence from Kol Simcha (as conductor) and Chalutzim Day School (as the acting principal leading parent-faculty meetings); and when his side-business, “David Health And Fitness” was failing, I gave (not loaned) him $1,000 dollars (1/20th of my entire annual income, when I was not a wealthy man, and he was, as a chemist for a large corporation, earning far more than I) to enable him and his family to survive his side-business’s failure.
For all this across 12 years of sacrificial service – I got a knife in the back from him, when people noticed what the real nature of my and Joe’s contributions in Kol Simcha were.
And approaching 30 years later, in 2022 he is still venally erasing me and my history from existence.
He is an entirely unrepentant sinner and criminal.
WHY WRITE THIS NOW (MAY 2022)?
Finkelstein migrated to the Arad, in the Israeli Negev.
And there, he has wormed his way into the leadership of a congregation in Arad, “Hasdey Yeshua,” despite his being totally disqualified from any position of leadership: and, per Scriptural law, as a proven perjurer, he is not even permitted to be a witness in any matter!
Yet, Hasdey Yeshua leaders will not even take my phone calls or respond to me when I asked to be heard about possible danger in their midst: an unrepentant criminal and harm-doer who turned on his most loyal longterm lieutenant.
I have a Scriptural obligation, if I see danger, to warn of it.
Joe Finkelstein wrote, “You (Bruce Cohen) have been, above all, a faithful friend.”
That statement is signed by Joel Chernoff as a witness in attestation of its truthfulness.
What does Scripture say is the fate of all who “return evil for good?” (Prov. 17:13) What does Scripture say is the eternal destination of “all (unrepentant) liars and cowards?” (Rev. 21:8)
This moral monstrosity is what has sneaked his way into a leadership position in the Messianic Jewish Movement in the Israeli desert.
I owe it to the Israeli Movement to “sound the alarm” when I see danger. (Ezekiel 33:6)
May God protect the Israeli Messianic Jewish Movement from more such harms by this still unrepentant criminal.
May the Spirit of God grant Joe Finkelstein and the Chernoffs “the repentance that leads to (eternal) life.” As it stands now, their having any present-tense or future connection to God and His Kingdom in any way seems by Scriptural standards to be, at the very least, highly in doubt. (Rev. 21:8, 1Cor. 6:9)
Bruce Louis Cohen
16 May 2022