Bintel Blog

Olympic Crooning by Matisyahu

By Devra Ferst

One day, one day … One day.

“All my life I’ve been waiting for, been praying for …” a Hasidic reggae musician to be the voice of the Olympics. Well the day arrived just this week, when NBC launched their promotion for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics set to the tune of Matisyahu’s recent hit “One Day.”

Check out the video:

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Matisyahu Squared

By Dan Friedman

Jewish rapper, beach, self-interview. Got it?

It’s clear why he’s a famous singer, not a famous comedian — but it’s cute.

Hat tip Erez and Shemspeed.

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Matisyahu’s New ’Do

By Daniel Treiman

Reggae sensation Matisyahu made waves last year when he revealed that he was no longer affiliated with the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic sect. Since then, he has been davening at a shul affiliated with the Karliner Hasidim, who are known for screaming their prayers. Now, it appears, his new spiritual orientation is starting to show in his hairstyle.

While Matisyahu has long had a long beard, more recently he has been seen sporting payos (which are generally eschewed by Lubavitchers) and wearing the rest of his hair shorn close to the scalp, a style favored by members of other Hasidic sects. Matisyahu’s new ’do is evident in photos from this year’s Jewlicious Festival in Long Beach, Calif.

The three-day festival, sponsored by Beach Hillel and the blog Jewlicious.com, is now in its fourth year. It drew more than 600 mostly college-aged participants from across North America with lectures on Jewish topics, Shabbat services representing different streams of Judaism, yoga and performances by Matisyahu and other popular Jewish musicians.

According to JTA, Matisyahu chatted with festival participants about dating, making music and praying. He said he liked the way that the Karlin Hasidim shout each word of the Shema prayer “as if there’s a firing squad in the room, and they’re saying it with their last breath. That’s the way I like to kick off my morning.”

UPDATE: Jewlicious.com has some video from the festival.


Matisyahu Bids Chabad Adieu

By Daniel Treiman

The JTA reports:

Orthodox Jewish reggae sensation Matisyahu is leaving the Chabad movement.

“I am no longer identified with Chabad,” the American singer told Ha’aretz this week during a private visit to Israel. “Today it’s more important to me to connect to a universal message.”

Born Matthew Miller, Matisyahu embraced Orthodox Judaism while studying in a Chabad yeshiva in New York City His virtuosity in reggae and hip-hop, religious lyrics and uncanny garb and antics on stage launched him to international music stardom.

According to to the Israeli newspaper, Matisyahu experienced a “spiritual shift” while celebrating the High Holy Days in Israel. That drew to him to alternative forms of Chasidut such as Breslav.

“What we do is not at all about Judaism and not about Chabad. It’s much bigger than one religion or another,” he said. “It relies on something real that can speak to anybody. It’s about truth and memory.”

While still Orthodox, Matisyahu said he is “searching for freedom from a pronounced identification with one specific group.”

This is not exactly news, but it does add more context to less specific remarks the toasting Hasid had made previously.


Who Lost Matisyahu?

By Daniel Treiman

Matisyahu

It looks like the Lubavitchers did. The Hasidic reggae sensation recently told the Miami New Times:

My initial ties were through the Lubovitch sect… I went to a Hasidic school for two years in Brooklyn. At this point, I don´t necessarily identify with it any more. I´m really religious, but the more I´m learning about other types of Jews, I don´t want to exclude myself. I felt boxed in.

The New York Jewish Week took a look at the fallout in the Lubavitch world, and (non-Lubavitch) Hasidic rapper Y-Love chimes in on Jewschool. Y-Love’s post is particularly interesting, as are the reader comments.

Some Lubavitchers, it seems, fear their embrace of Matisyahu may have backfired. They touted him as a role model, and now he’s distancing himself from their movement. So they worry that young Lubavitchers may now follow their reggae idol’s lead.

Y-Love, however, (writing in the comments section of his original post) agues that Matisyahu will still be a good role model even if he chooses another flavor of Orthodox Judaism.



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