Matisyahu Drops the Act and the Yarmulke

Matthew Miller has completed his transformation from hasidic reggae superstar into, by the looks of his haircut, Vanilla Ice. On Sunday the former religious icon, also known as Robert Van Winkle Matisyahu, posted to Facebook an image of himself at the Wakarusa Music and Camping Festival sans yarmulke, the traditional head covering worn at nearly all times by Orthodox Jewish men.

Another photo shows him standing next to rapper Wiz Khalifa who appears to be smoking a joint. Miller, who has admitted to a psychedelic past, has previously disavowed drug use in his lyrics and interviews claiming it interferes with one’s spiritual clarity.

According to an interview with his friend Daniel Zamir in Ynet, “It looks like he’s thrown off his kippa and tzitzit.” Zamir further suggested that it was Miller’s conscious and independent decision to shy away from the religious garb that once defined his public image.

Previously, Miller took to WNYC to rebuff claims by this magazine and others that shaving off his iconic beard presaged a descent into secularity.

But here we are, six months later, and guess who’s publicly shunning religious laws like your average schmo from Westchester?

(h/t Frum Satire)

What do you think?

About The Author

Daniel Sieradski

Daniel Sieradski is a writer, web designer, new media producer and Heeb's resident Digital Strategist. He is also the founder of Occupy Judaism, ProgressiveJews.org, Jew It Yourself, Jewschool.com and a billion-and-one other digital age Jewish ventures. He has been called "a major figure of the Jewish Internet world" by the Forward, which counted him among the 2010 Forward 50, and a "professional thorn in the side of the American Jewish establishment" by Haaretz.

16 Responses

  1. Bernard Mendelbaum
    Bernard Mendelbaum

    Many young Jews have fallen into the Venus Flytrap that is ultra-Orthodoxy. Matisyahu is a shining example that despite the pressures and tactics of shame used to keep you imprisoned there in that dark place, you CAN get out.

    Reply
  2. Zvi Lampert

    Anyone can ‘get out.’ Orthodox Judaism is not a prison. The point is people who are genuinely committed to a religious lifestyle don’t want to ‘get out.’

    Reply
  3. jeanette friedman

    Interesting discussion. What if you start out committed to a religious lifestyle and you discover that it is a very bad place for you as a person–that it teaches one thing and does another, ie. that as a woman you must be subservient, as a BT you are a second class citizen, and if you open your mouth to protest what you see as unjust and unethical, you are branded for life as a “feminist” and a “shanda” and your kids are on their own when it comes to finding a mate because they are rejects. When someone comes into a world where they are promised ethics and justice and then find out it’s all about using people as objects, and not beings created in the image of God, that’s when you leave. And when that happens, you cannot blame the person who leaves. It’s Dayenu. Enough.

    Reply
  4. Micah

    Check out his haircut. Its a fade lol. I thought religious Jews don’t trim their temples that close. I don’t think he’s giving up Judaism by any means.

    Reply
  5. Micah

    Lev your article is very informative, it looks like he might not be in touch with his close people. Like, when someone stops talking and hanging out with their peers or the people that they talk to about their stuff, they do questionable things like this that point away from their supposed goals, morals, direction etc.

    Reply
  6. mailjewishreader

    Jeannette, not everything in the world is about you. I don’t think Matisyahu was dealing with subservient feminist issues, considering he’s a guy.

    Reply
  7. Joe Martin

    Good for him! Hopefully it doesn’t turn out that he just had a momentary crisis of faith, or worse, is simply pulling a publicity stunt. It would be nice to have another celebrity realize the stupidity of religion.

    Reply
  8.  Yarmulke

    Look at the haircut. Their some sort of lose colour ha. I think non secular Jews rarely lean their very own wats in which shut. I do not feel he has stopping Judaism the slightest bit.

    Reply
  9. Mordechi

    This has nothing to do with Religion. It has to do with commitment decency and respect, this men came up because of the Jewish community and instead of showing gratitude he decides to “burn his bridges” in a most public way possible. Its like a son rebelling against his loving parents who nurtured him.

    Reply
  10. Tessa

    Sadly many religions foster bigotry and exclusivity.

    We are all valuable and should be encouraged to show empathy, honor, kindness and love to all.

    G-d bless you artist previously known as Matisyahu.

    Reply
  11. Chris

    Matisyahu is a douche. He used the hassidic ‘look’ as a way to gain popularity. I feel dirty for ever looking up to him, and I ain’t even Jewish.

    Reply

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