In the News: Matisyahu’s tzitzits

Reposted from Loose Ends – Ben Garson’s Tallis and Tzitzit blog

Outside of the tallit and tzitzit business, it seems the term “tallit katan” is most commonly found on the Web to describe frum stage performers, especially Matisyahu. Here’s a typical example, taken from the The Taos News:

Not only does the [Taos Mountain Music Festival] include everything from folk to mariachi, it also features artists who stretch the boundaries within their chosen musical styles.

Reggae artist Matisyahu has made waves around the world for melding Jewish themes with reggae and beat-box rhythms. His song “King Without a Crown” was a Top 40 hit on music charts in the United States, selling over 700,000 copies to date.

Playing with his Brooklyn-based band, Dub Trio, Matisyahu’s unique sound has been elevated to even greater heights. An Orthodox Jew who has garnered international attention for his uplifting, youthful and heartfelt approach to music, Matisyahu’s performances break down barriers, and open doors. He is certainly one of few, if not the only, American rock star to dive off a stage with a tallit katan — a fringed garment traditionally worn by religious Jewish men.

A similar article recently in Local iQ also noted Matisyahu’s tzitzit, though it sounds like the writer is not very familiar with the terminology (unlike the above article, which was written by a reporter with the last name of Kramer, which might explain why she got it right).

“Judaism isn’t just a religion,” asserted Matisyahu, “It’s a lifestyle.” Onstage and off, he wears the tallit [sic, tallit katan] and payot (Jewish prayer shawl [sic] and side curls) of Hasidic orthodoxy. With his wife, Tahlia, and their three children, he is a longtime resident of the Orthodox Jewish district of Crown Heights in Brooklyn.

5 comments on “In the News: Matisyahu’s tzitzits

  1. A few corrections for the author of the article: 1.Yes, Matisyahu (or Paul as I knew him when we used to snowboard and party together in Bend Oregon when he was still frei) is a Chassid if you consider Chabad Lubavitch Chassidishe, but also a Baal Teshuva! 2.He is only a long time resident of Crown Heights if you consider 9 years a long time, for most of which he’s been on tour; he’s from White Plains. 3.No, he doesn’t stage dive, he’s shomer negiah. More important than any minor biographical discrepencies, he is a great example of how one can grow in observance and maintain frumkeit without completely putting a mechitza between one’s self and the secular world; a true frum Baal Teshuva that is a light for the nations. P.S. If you read this Matisyahu, drop a brother a line sometime! “Jerry” from Bend.

  2. Matisyahu has davened in our shul in Indy when in town for performances, and is really pleasant and down to earth. Once he led a hakafah here on Simchas Torah.

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