First Y-Love and Shneur Hasofer, a.k.a. DeScribe, collaborated on “Change” — a rockin’ track on the Modular Moods/Shemspeed label. Black, white, left, right, United States, Australia, all put aside to “uplift the mundane” in the name of Hashem.
Then Elad Nehorai from Chabad.org covered it for the news service ChabadOnLine Live, and suddenly the lashon hara flowed in. One commenter asked:“[W]hy do u have to print this. this is totaly not what lubavitch is about. where are the pictures of chassidishe lubavitchers that daven like a chosid etc.” The note was quickly followed by questions of the rappers’ eligibility: “[I]s shneur Devora’s son, and is he married? if yes to whom?”
A reader identified as “4 Questions” asked, “Why are all these seemingly talented young men going down this goyishe music path? Can’t they get a proper job? Is (G-d forbid) this the direction Chabad is really going?”
There were milder versions of that question, such as, “[A]s Chassidim do we have to take the Chitzoniyus?” (the external appearance of others) and more clichéd ones, such as, “Does this represent Chabad and do I want to give the children the impression that it does???”
In the end, the general opinion — helped by Y-Love and Erez of Shemspeed posting the lyrics and trying to explain their intention — was that “having Ahavas Yisroal is the main part of being JEWISH” and respecting Y-Love and DeScribe for their obvious talents and genuine dedication to Hashem was the way to go.
Finally, a crucial subsidiary part of the thread was concluded with a tease. It related that Shneur is Devorah’s son. There was no mention of his marital status.
…to sing a dreidel song on “Late Night With Conan O’Brien.” The real Hasid is Bostoner Hasid/rapper Y-Love. The fellows in the fake beards are Erran Baron Cohen (brother of “Borat” comic Sacha) and his band. The song is from Erran’s new album “Songs in the Key of Hanukkah.” The motley crew’s performance can be viewed here — at the end of the show. (It was, by the way, a very Jew-y episode of “Late Night,” with the dreidel song preceded by a fun appearance by perennially popular comic matador Don Rickles.)
UPDATE: Turns out Y-Love is no longer a Hasid. Back in June he told Jewcy: “I am no longer Chassidish. I converted Chassidish and I davened in Chassidish shuls until like 2005. But my rav is Sephardi.” Oops.
Y-Net reports that she presented Peres with a copy of the “Book of Splendor” (i.e. the Zohar) with the dedication: “To Shimon Peres, the man I admire and love, Madonna.”
The Material Girl also proclaimed herself an “ambassador for Judaism” and beseeched Israel’s president: “Tell me what I should do, Mr Peres, because I am in love with Israel.”
Perhaps Peres could ask her to bottle her enthusiasm and give a little of it to young American Jews. Then again, cults and enthusiasm do tend to go hand in hand.
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.