Saturday, December 10, 2005

Perolman in the Promised Land: Where are you guys from?

Perolman in the Promised Land: Where are you guys from?

Last night I saw Matisyahu, a Chasidic reggae performer at The Lab- a very cool bar/venue here in Jerusalem. Although I had seen him last year at Hillel Staff Conference, I was really excited to see him again, in a different place.

Ever since I bought his amazing live album, "Live at Stubbs" last year, I have been a huge fan. And that's hard to say as a woman studying to be a Reform Rabbi. Matisyahu, formerly Matthew Miller, of Philadelphia, belonged to a Reform synagogue before becoming involved with Chabad and the Lubavitch movement. Someone joked that this is what happens to Reform Jews who aren't kept engaged within the movement- they become Matisyahu.

The people at the show represented his amazingly huge fan base. There were religious couples, sitting in the back, older secular Israelis, at least a couple of Lubavitch Rabbis, tons and tons and tons of kippah and tzit-tzit wearing hippie yeshiva boys and us, the future Reform clergy of America. I couldn't help but think of the sociology of it all- here we were, all of us, seeing a fabulously talented Chasidic Jew rapping, in a club in Jerusalem. One of our professors, Rabbi Doctor Michael Chernick and his wife were also there, making me even more excited to have him as a teacher next year in New York.

Matisyahu puts most American hip-hop artists to shame. He writes his own stuff and his beatboxing (can I use that as a verb?) is fabulous. His lyrics certainly reflect his current values: rebuilding the Temple and bringing the Mosiach (Messiah). But if you strip away the super-religious lyrics, I think his stuff has a pretty good message- and his show was one of the most spiritual experiences I've had since being here. That's intense.

He hardly spoke during the show except to ask people to be careful crowd-surfing and to ask us where we were from.
Matisyahu: "Are you guys from American or Israel"
The crowd: "Ammmmerrrrriiicaaaaaaa"
Matisyahu: "We're all from Israel- this is where we're all from"

And that's something we both can agree on. Rock on Matisyahu.

posted by KRP

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