Sundays may never be the same for Florence Katz or Andy Bedford — unless Rabbi Yossi Hodakov of New Haven finds another station to host his weekly radio program.
Rabbi Hodakov’s Jewish Radio Hour, broadcast on WYBC AM for four years on Sunday mornings from 10am to 11 a.m, has come to an end.
“The station is meant to be a training ground for broadcasters,” reports Hodakov, who explained that by law, the station’s broadcasters are given just a four-year, non-renewable contract.
But many listeners from around the state are disappointed that Rabbi Hodakov’s show will no longer be on the airwaves.
Florence Katz, an elderly resident of New Haven’s Tower One, remembers the 50 years when Beryl Howard had a Jewish radio program in New Haven. And she remembers the years when there was no Jewish radio program.
“Then Rabbi Hodakov came,” reports Katz. “Every week he would play beautiful Jewish music, tell us what the Torah portion was about on Saturday, and play the news directly from Israel.”
Katz found his voice to be “smooth and delightful. I’m legally blind-it was good for me! You get used to it. Now, it is not on. It is very unpleasant.”
Dr. Andy Bedford, a Woodbridge gastroenterologist and father of two, also enjoyed “The Jewish Hour,” broadcast.
“What a natural he was on the air,” reports Bedford, who particularly enjoyed the way Rabbi Hodakov, would teach, using examples from the Torah portion, Jewish history and real life. “It is one of his gifts-like a good attorney giving closing arguments and pulling it all together.” Bedford enjoyed the format of the show, with its musical opening, Hodakov’s talk about the weekly Torah portion, his interesting guest, and his sharing “something on his mind.”
Bedford said he looked forward to hearing the news from Israel, and Hodakov’s discussions of such topics as the war in Lebanon.
Hodakov, a Jewish educator and currently a teacher of Jewish Studies and Chasidism at the Southern Connecticut Hebrew Academy and at the Beit Chana Academy, always wanted to host a radio program. He called many stations and was delighted to find the non-profit WYBC.
“To get a program, you have to apply to be a member, undergo training to know how to work all the machinery, and submit a demo show,” reports Hodakov, who notes that WYBC, which mostly features shows by Yale students, is a station where you “come in, and turn the lights on and off yourself.”
Hodakov publicized his shows by emails, word of mouth, and via ads in Jewish publications.
Hodakov talks with great enthusiasm about his loyal listeners.
“There is such a wide range-in age, observance, everything.”
What were Hodakov’s favorite moments?
“The most enjoyable moments were when we had live contact with a fellow in the Old City of Jerusalem on Purim-he was deep in his Purim Seudah (meal) and was talking to our listeners,” Hodakov recalled nostalgically. “And when we had a rabbi who was a New York City police chaplain.” Hodakov was particularly fond of the show’s variety-from music, to interviews, to talk about the Torah portion and upcoming holidays, and the Arutz Sheva hookup from Israel.
“If you listened long enough, you would hear something you liked,” he said.
Hodakov’s fans hope he will be back on the air soon.
“I never missed his show,” said Hayden Leventhal of New Haven. “He spoke a normal person’s language-he spoke my language.”