In 2011, Caldwell resident Jake Edelstein, who was then in second grade, was shaken when he witnessed a friend being bullied by other kids during school recess.
But rather than passing it off, Jake decided to do much more. He wrote a song, “I Know What You’ve Been Through,” a sympathetic tribute to people of all ages who have been victims of bullies.
In a pre-YouTube era, Jake’s song may not have been heard much beyond his family and friends. But thanks to a few family connections and the power of social networking, a professionally produced version is being shared via Facebook and beyond.
“Jake is a sensitive kid and it upset him to see this happen to his friend and to see his friend’s reaction,” his father, Robert Edelstein, 52, said. “He wanted to do something helpful to make his friend feel better; since his friend liked music, he decided to write a song.”
Jake’s mother, Loren Edelstein, shared the song with a friend whose husband happens to be Carl Sturken, a songwriter and music producer who has helped create hits for such industry heavyweights as Rihanna, Christina Aguilera, and Kelly Clarkson. Loren was shocked to receive an e-mail informing her that Sturken was “in” and wanted to record the song over the holidays.
In December 2011, the Edelstein family — Robert, Loren, Jake, and sisters Rachel, 17, and Nell, 13 — traveled to a recording studio in New York City. Supported by his father and Sturken on guitar and Jake’s best friend, Christian Rivera, on back-up vocals, Jake recorded his lyrics for a professional arrangement that Sturken kept true to Jake’s vision and style.
It was subsequently produced as a video currently viewable on both Facebook and YouTube.
“I felt bad for my friend after what happened and I wanted to cheer him up to help him forget about it,” said Jake, now a third-grader at Jefferson School in West Caldwell. “I wanted people to know that if you do this to someone, this is how you’re going to make them feel; then people will all feel bad for them and nobody’s going to like you.”
Jake said the recording experience was “really cool,” but the chance to spread his message even cooler. “I just want a lot of people to see the video and [for it] to have a lot of views,” he said.
Jake attends classes at the Montclair Jewish Workshop, where the Edelsteins are members, Loren served as president for two years, and Robert is teacher coordinator and creator of the annual Purimshpiel. The cooperative, founded in 1996, offers educational and social programming for families who prefer an alternative to synagogue membership.
“Loren and I are bursting with pride at Jake’s desire to help shine a light on the important issue of bullying,” said Robert, an author who has written about entertainment and auto racing. “At the same time, Jake and I had a great time in the studio that day and I’m hoping that this can also signal the beginning of a lifelong passion for music that my son and I can always share.”
To view Jake Edelstein’s video, “I Know What You’ve Been Through,” visit youtube.com/watch?v=Ngz70RIfPJ0.