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Leah Kauffman

Leah Kauffman - Crush on ObamaOne more Jew who should have made the Forward 50 list in my opinion is Leah Kauffman. The 21-year-old Jewish woman who wrote “I Got a Crush on Obama” (over 4 million views on YouTube) now stars in her own video to the song she wrote and performs about Ann Coulter (“Perfected: The Ann Coulter Song”). Leah’s song is the best response to Ann Coulter’s “Jews need to be perfected” comments yet. Leah is a very talented musician (her songs are on her MySpace page) who also wrote and sings “I like a Boy,” a tribute song to the U.S. troops. The website has a video of Leah performing her parody songs live, including her hilarious spoof of the famous Justin Timberlake video from Saturday Night Live.

Leah’s “Crush on Obama” song even led to Birthright Israel alum Michelle Citrin‘s “Rosh Hashanah Girl.”

The JTA article about Leah Kauffman is here and below is Leah performing her Ann Coulter song:

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | | Twitter: @RabbiJason |
Celebrities Jewish Music

"Dirty Dancing" Star Sings Klezmer

I just saw this very funny YouTube video of Jennifer Grey, the star of “Dirty Dancing”, singing a hillarious Klezmer parody song called “Duvid Crockett” on Conan O’Brien. The Klezmer song was actually written and performed by her grandfather, the Jewish comedian Mickey Katz. Jennifer’s father (and Mickey Katz’s son) is the Broadway actor Joel Grey, who was recently in Wicked.

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | | Twitter: @RabbiJason |
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Matisyahu’s Super Famous but is it Halakhically Permissable?

I just read an interesting article about whether Matisyahu, the Chasidic reggae superstar, is violating Jewish law according to his Chabad Lubavitch community by performing in clubs and bars where activities occur that run contra to the code of morality held firmly by the ultra-Orthodox establishment.

Here’s a clip of the article:

Matisyahu: Rabbi or Rebel?
By Levi Brackman

Matisyahu is now an international phenomenon; he is a reggae singer with a difference. Instead of dreadlocks he sports a trilby. His beard is predicated on the Kabbalists’ theosophy instead of Rastafarian tradition and his clothing places him in an Ultra Orthodox Jewish enclave rather than a black ghetto. This week he released his latest CD entitled YOUTH and it seems that Matisyahu’s tremendous success so far is about to reach unprecedented heights. Predictably, this man’s singing antics are deeply controversial.

Many have asked the following questions. Is it correct for a Chassidic Jew to be singing in clubs and bars? Is Matisyahu using his talent to bring Godliness to the profoundly unGodly and thus sanctifying God’s name or is he achieving the opposite?

Whereas this article is not meant to give a definitive answer to these questions it does, however, endeavor to explain what motivates a Chassidic Jew like Matisyahu to perform in a bar and club.

There is a fundamental difference between the Kabbalistic and the non-Kabbalistic views of Judaism. Up until the French Revolution in 1789, society was divided into three groups: the church, the aristocracy and the peasants. In the terminology of the post-modern French philosopher Jacques Derrida (1930-2004), the landowners and the church were the centre and the peasants were the periphery. The two did not mix. Education, money and power were restricted to the elite; the peasants enjoyed no such privileges. After the French Revolution, the periphery was also given some of the privileges that were previously the exclusive right of the centre. With this came the emancipation of the Jews. Although the landowners and the educated were still regarded as the centre, the difference now was that peasants had the possibility of entering this exclusive domain.

The post-modern era, according to Derrida, was a time of “deconstruction.” All things were seen in pairs, one superior to the other: rich and poor, educated and ignorant, powerful and powerless, etc. The deconstructivist view is that rich is not necessarily superior to poor, in fact, being poor can be more advantageous. Seen from this perspective, poor is the new centre and rich is the periphery. Derrida goes one step further and says that hierarchy should not exist at all; rather, all boundaries between centre and periphery should be deconstructed.

Western society is a deconstructed civilization in many ways. Whereas in the past women were seen as inferior, today they are often regarded as superior to men. Similarly, modern human rights laws have ensured that the views of vulnerable minorities are respected and listened to.

Non-Kabbalistic Judaism, in general, does not deconstruct boundaries. According to this school of thought, the centre should be distinct from the periphery. Here we have the concept of ‘enclave Judaism,’ which clearly marks out the boundaries between the holy and the profane. The fact that this type of Judaism disagrees with Matisyahu’s style of music and choice of audience is no surprise, for it regards the mixing of the centre with the periphery as an obvious desecration of God’s name. [more]

By his own admission, Matisyahu is being guided by the Chabad School of Kabbalistic thought. Thus, as long as he adheres to Jewish law and does not get carried away with stardom and the narcissistic celebrity culture of modern-day America, his music may be considered, in my opinion, a sanctification of God’s name.
(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | | Twitter: @RabbiJason |
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Funny Jew Stuff

Funny selections from Jewsweek’s Jewriffic Awards.

Best reference to child molestation:
“Rabbi Feldman, stop touching me!”
— Adam Sandler on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno explaining what he was thinking when the director of his new movie, Spanglish, told him to channel a time from his childhood that would make him cry on cue.

Best rip-off of Fiddler on the Roof by a hot woman: Gwen Stefani riffs on Fiddler on the Roof on her new CD Love, Angel, Music, Baby with the song “Rich Girl,” a take off of Tevye’s “If I were a rich man”.

“Now that you’ve let the secret out that I’m not Jewish, I expect my career to be done. Thank you very much. I appreciate that. My career is officially over.”
— Jason Biggs thanking the women of “The View” for alerting the world to the fact that he’s not Jewish.

Best piece of political critique: “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a time when the party that controlled the Senate, the House, the White House and the Supreme Court was so out of sorts about how little respect they get. At a certain point you want to say, “OK, Goliath. Stop pretending.”
— Jon Stewart writing about the recent elections in Rolling Stone Magazine.

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | | Twitter: @RabbiJason |