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Matis and Matthue


I really have been enjoying Matthue Roth's work (which I find on Facebook, My Jewish Learning, and his blog). His writing has really inspired me in the time I have been doing the Jewish content for Patheos. In fact, his article on Molly Goldberg + the interview with Aviva Kempner on NPR got me researching and ultimately writing about Molly.

So Matthue has recently done an interview with Matisyahu for MJL which is a really incredible piece. He (and MJL) so graciously let me use it for the Patheos website. I really love how Matis and Matthue talk about Matis' evolving style and niche of music. I challenge all the people out there who claim Matisyahu "isn't real reggae" (just look at his YouTube channel for the nasty comments) to show me an artist who's sound doesn't evolve and who fits solidly into a specific genre. More, I see a kid who was influenced by this genre and choose to imitate it (after all, imitation is the best form of flattery). Matis isn't trying to be Bob Marley... he's trying to be Matthew Paul Miller aka Matisyahu. He's praising Hashem in a way that is relevant ... TO HIM. And it has become relevant to others too. His music speaks to a generation. Why? Because here we sit, young adults, children of the baby boomer/hippies, as a favorite song says... looking for a place to land. Trying to find our niche, our place in this world. We watched our parents boom and bust, heard the stories & listened to the records (yes, records) from their youth. Found out how they accidentally ended up at Woodstock (not kidding, my dad rocks but that is a story for another time), all the while waiting for our chance.

Most of us didn't/don't have adversity to conquer, no civil rights battle, no JFK, no need for bootstraps. Where most of our parents moved away from religion for spirituality, we move towards it. We crave connection but it's not so easy any more. Young people are going back to church/temple/synagogue in droves to find it but there are distractions. Television, Facebook, getting drinks on a Friday night, being too hung over on Sunday. What speaks to the Twitter generation? Chabad dinners, Matisyahu, Reb Zalman's weekly siddur on cd (I try to listen to it at least once a day to get my davvenen in) ... technology. A different kind of worship.

I have seen Matis perform live three times (once in NYC and twice in Denver) at three very different stages of his evolution.
NYC - brand, spankin' new. No one knew who he was. We got home burned versions of his first CD, small crowd but we knew that this guy was going to be someone. They didn't have problems filling seats but it was 40 - 60 people.
Denver, pt 1 - Matis is getting popular. His music is the same but he has a broader following, outside of Judaism. I saw him at The Paramount in Denver and the house is packed (1980 seats... don't ask me how I know that). He sang the Sh'ma at one point, telling the crowd that this is a very sacred prayer for Jews. Instead of covering my eyes to say the Sh'ma like I normally do, I turned around. I was standing next to the stage and behind me was nearly 2000 people standing in awe. Some had their hands in the air, like how some Christians prostrate to G-d in church. Some had their eyes covered like Jews traditionally do during the Sh'ma and some just watched this man pray, in front of them, with fervor.
Denver, pt 2 - The Mile High Music Festival version. When I saw Matis was playing this huge music festival I was excited. I figured not that many people would be interested in his music and I could get up nice and close and enjoy the show... I was wrong. I was dead wrong. I couldn't have been wronger (yes, I know that isn't a word). We got to the tent early-ish... but not early enough. It was already packed 30 minutes before his set... and it kept getting more packed. First people kept inching closer, then we had to stand up so there was room for more people, eventually, we were packed into the tent like sardines. He started his set and the crowd went wild. One guy took off his Mogen David necklace (the Jewish star) and was waving it in the air but most of the people there weren't Jewish. They went because he gave them a connection to something more than just the music. He connected them to their faith.

Is Matisyahu a symptom of a change or the cause? I would honestly say a symptom. Matisyahu's life story reads as fairly typical (ish) of my generation (of course, if you read it generally). He was a normal kid in White Plains, NY. Grew up liking Reggae music, smoked pot, didn't like school, felt no connection to his Judaism. Until he met a Chabad rabbi in Washington Square. Then it all changed for him. He went to a Chabad yeshiva, married a good frum girl and the rest is history. But he used his music to connect to his Judaism and entertain his yeshiva-mates. And now, really, the rest is history. I think he melded his secular upbringing with his new found observance. And that observance has been evolving too. He has jumped around to different sects of Judaism but the key is that Judaism is still central to how he lives his life.

For those of us who grew up with varying levels of religious observance who are being drawn to the more observant level, it's about melding our experiences, not forgetting them. Though the Orthodox Jews I hang out with don't have tattoos, I look at my tattoos as a badge of my history, of where I have been and where my journey has taken me. I am proud of my battle scars, the ones I have incurred on my journey to finding my level of observance and spirituality. The fact that mine is much more orthodox than my parents isn't unusual anymore. Really, we are all just a part of the Matisyahu generation.

And I leave you with a blessing Reb Zalman gave to me & my parents - "May your children be so frum (observant) that they won't even eat in your home."

Read Matthue Roth's interview with Matisyahu here -

Drumroll please....

The results are in!

I made it to the semi-finals of the Mad Men photo competition!! I am so excited, if for no other reason than there were over 4,500 entries and I am in the top 10 women! Thanks to everyone who voted for me, tweeted it, Facebooked it, and generally made me viral. :)

Here's a link to the semi-finalists -

Stay tuned. I don't know when we find out who wins but I will let you know when I know!


Let's talk about my new favorite photo...


Thanks for @partridge for this!

Mad Men contest part deux

Okay, so I don't want to cast aspersions on this process but...

The voting has been crazy. Doing my super-PR girl thing, I got the word out there about me. There have been over 500 clicks on my link - (which is why I use, they let you track clicks) but I am landing on the 8 or 9 page! EVERYONE in the contest has only 2 stars with the exception of one girl. She has three stars and has been sitting pretty as #1 in the contest for over a week. That is pretty strange considering that no one has stayed that steady in this game. Her shot is alright but I doubt she has more friends voting than all the rest of us who have been blogging, Facebooking and Tweeting about it. I am pretty positive that the only people who have been voting are friends of contestants and Maddicts. It is clear that everyone is going around ranking themselves a 5 and everyone else a 1. This, though logical, seems silly and unfair. There are pictures that do not capture the essence of this competition ranking in the top 20, and that is silly!

It's turned into one big f-you fest and I don't like that. It's who's friend network is bigger and who can find auto-voting software to outsmart AMC. :( Very disappointing.

I hope the powers that be take a good look at the votes before picking the winners.

All that being said, I am not a sore loser. I had fun doing this and would do it again and I do, desperately want to play in the costume room for the show sometime (okay, maybe the props too).

So please, vote for me. We have until Monday. Again, my link is

Ever feel like you were born at the wrong time?

I have... I have a passion for the advertising of the 1950's & 60's. Well, needless to say, my favorite television show is Mad Men.

So when I heard that Banana Republic (one of my favorite stores) and Mad Men were hosting a contest, I knew I had to enter! The prize? Priceless! A chance for a walk on role on Mad Men but the Banana $1000 gift card doesn't hurt! So I got a good friend of mine who is an incredible photographer to take some great pics of me wearing my favorite 50's style (Banana Republic) dress all around Denver! They came out amazingly!

So how does this work? Well, I need all of you to go to this website (AdGirl Talia) and vote for me (you don't have to register). Everyday! :) Please give me 5 stars. The competition is interesting, I would say most of it is headshots and wedding pics, a lot of snaps taken on a night out but there are some die hard Mad Men fans (we call ourselves Maddicts) that have done a good job. The public vote gets you through the first round. Top 10 women and top 10 men. Then the creator of Mad Men makes his choice - 60% on Mad Men style and 40% on creativity. Well, I really hope to win so I need your help! Please vote often and high! :0)

Thanks!!! Oh and here is the link to the other pics from the photo shoot - Photo Shoot (pics by Ben Barefoot)

And here are some pics from the new season (you just try to tell me that I don't look like I fit right in! :)) - Mad Men Season Three