Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Is Matisyahu Burning More Bridges?

Frum Satire posted a satire piece titled "Is Matisyahu’s music kosher?"

Check out the last comment in the thread. It allegedly quotes from a BBYO statement after he performed for them.
This past weekend at Fall Kickoff 2013, BBYO ONR brought in guest speaker and Jewish musician Matisyahu. Matisyahu’s music has inspired many Jews and non-Jews alike with his powerful lyrics that reflect Jewish and spiritual themes. Recently, Matisyahu has undergone a transformation in his Jewish identity, and with Kickoff 2013 coinciding with his visit to Cleveland to play at the House of Blues, ONR was presented with the opportunity to provide our teens with a unique experience. By bringing Matisyahu into our community for a speaking engagement, we hoped to explore the theme of the individual Jewish journeys that make up our Jewish identities, as well as the concept of transformative Jewish experiences. The goal was to illustrate to our teens that no matter what you look like on the outside, exploring your personal Jewish journey is a critical piece of understanding your own Jewish identity. Furthermore, the expression of your Jewish identity can come in many forms, including creative expression and popular music.
Unfortunately, however, our guest speaker’s behavior and responses during our program did not reflect our original intent. We were disappointed by the way Matisyahu chose to conduct himself while visiting our community. His references to drugs and his blatant disrespect for the questions presented to him by our teens and staff do not reflect the values of our organization. We were impressed by the maturity of our teens and volunteers who persistently attempted to redirect the conversation in order to gain value from the experience.
Immediately after the speaking engagement with Matisyahu, we provided the participants with the opportunity to hear about the Jewish journeys of others in our community and teens were given the opportunity to share their transformative Jewish experiences. They were also given a forum to reflect and provide feedback about the experience. There was certainly a learning opportunity that presented itself in this situation and again, we were impressed by the maturity and insight of our teens. We hope that through this experience our teens came away with new lessons on integrity, leadership and managing expectations.
Just wow!