Birthright Alum Takes Hollywood: Alumni Spotlight on Andy Stein
If you follow the media at all, you definitely bobbed your head along to MTV Jersey Shore star Angelina Pivarnick’s single that hit the Top 10 on various music charts before it was even officially released. After TMZ leaked a 52-second clip, it went viral and instantly garnered over 40 million listeners around the world.
Thanks to the musical talents of Andy Stein, a Birthright alum from East Brunswick, New Jersey, Pivarnick was able to rebrand her image and regain her stardom after leaving the popular show.
Stein, also known as “The DreaMaker,” considers himself more of a songwriter than a singer or rapper. Known for his insightful lyrics, Stein produces songs that people of all ages can appreciate. He has built his reputation with a versatile musical style he calls “Rap n’ Roll for The Soul,” contemporary sounding music with a positive message. “I feel like the music and lyrics just channel through me, as if they are coming from a higher power,” says Stein, “and I turn it into music.”
Despite his success in the music world, it wasn’t until his near death experience while swimming in the sea in Puerto Rico, during the 9 days before Tisha B’Av, that Stein started seeing things differently. After being pulled out a half-mile into the ocean by a riptide and almost drowning, he was miraculously pulled ashore by a surfer that he says appeared out of nowhere. “I was treading and trying to stay above the water, but the strength of the ocean was too strong and I was about to give up. I looked up at the sky and said to G-d ‘I’m putting this in your hands,’ and said the Shema. Within a second there was a guy on a surfboard right next to me extending his hand. When we reached the shore, I took a couple of steps, turned around, and he was gone.” That was the moment that Stein felt validation; that he was in this world for a purpose. “It was a big direction turner for me,” says Stein.
The New Jersey native sends his children to the Shalom Torah Academy in East Windsor and feels a strong connection to his Jewish roots. He felt a stronger appreciation for Judaism and a love for the land of Israel after going on a Birthright trip with NCSY’s very own Rabbi Dave Felsenthal. In addition to the 10-day touring program, Stein chose to extend his stay and learn Torah at a yeshiva in Efrat for an additional 25 days. “Birthright has influenced my life in so many positive ways and I appreciate all that I have been blessed with since then,” says Stein.
Currently, Stein is working on two feature films. One of them, entitled Dreams, is a Tom Walton film scheduled for release at the end of 2013. “It’s a story about people like me, who do everything they can to reach their goals,” says Stein. Popular actors such as Jeremy Jackson from Bay Watch, Brian Anthony Wilson, and Vaughn Goland will all star in the movie. In addition to acting in the movie and creating music for the soundtrack, Andy has also become one of the main producers for the film.