Matisyahu | One Day

Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 23:39 PM EDT, 4 June 2011

My mother constantly amazes me and perhaps many people believe this of their mothers as well.  Lately, what amazes me most about my diminutive, powerhouse, sixty-seven year old, Southern Baptist minister mom is the diversity, scope and breadth of her knowledge of popular culture.

The other day I was speaking with her about Russell Simmons with regard to his business acumen and how  he believes his philosophy of giving back is instrumental in his ability to have amassed a personal fortune of roughly $400 million.  She then goes on to mention that his brother is Run D.M.C. and that he is the co-founder of Def Jam Records.

I had to laugh, my mother knew more about the rap music industry than her daughter.  It was a poignant and sweet moment that reminded me that we are only as old as we allow ourselves to be.  I mention this because later in the week she called me to tell me that I should record a concert of Matisyahu's "Live at Stubbs" in Austin, Texas.


Three years ago, a friend turned me onto this Hassidic wrapper who combines faith and music in a way that hasn't been done in America.  Although Gospel is a rich culture that runs deep through the veins of the American South and in particular in my mom's Southern Baptist faith, generally there is no visible difference that identifies Christian musicians.  With the exception of the Amish, most Christians in America are indistinguishable from the majority of our multicultural, multiracial, multi-faithful society.

This is one of the things that makes Matisyahu unique in that he is successfully able to bridge the gap between tradition, Hasidic Judaism, and popular culture to feed the yearning that exists in today's youth for something meaningful that transcends the consumable society that we live in.

As I set the DVR to tape the concert, my son came out of his room because he couldn't sleep and cuddled up beside me. Since it was way past his bedtime, we were only going to watch a few minutes to make sure it was taping, but we ended up watching the entire concert.  We were utterly mesmerized with this musician who seems to have been able to balance Orthodox Judaism with the secular world that we live in.

It was amazing to watch when his Hasidic friend joined him on stage dancing with joy in the familiar style that my son and I have witnessed at so many Orthodox weddings.  It was an absolutely intoxicating experience and I was so happy that my mom found it and passed it on to me.  And so I am able to pass this on to you because my mother is a loving, supportive person who judges not by the flesh, nor by the faith (Christian, Judaism or Islam), but by the heart that you have to be obedient to God.

In a time of great strife, war, killings and nations against nations, it is nice to recall the reality of most people who just want to love and be loved, to live and let live, and to leave the world a better place than they found it.  Matisyahu is certainly doing what he seems destined and created for and in the process his music is touching a lot of people in ways that will hopefully begin to heal our world.