Lipa Schmeltzer Reaches For Broadway and Beyond

Controversial Hasidic Superstar Breaks Expectations

Superstar: After producing his Broadway show, Hasidic music sensation Lipa Schmeltzer is promoting his new album “Dus Pintele — The Hidden Spark” and attending college in the evenings.
Courtesy of Lipa Schmeltzer
Superstar: After producing his Broadway show, Hasidic music sensation Lipa Schmeltzer is promoting his new album “Dus Pintele — The Hidden Spark” and attending college in the evenings.

By Frimet Goldberger

Published January 23, 2014, issue of January 24, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 4 of 7)

This was a first, for an Orthodox Jew to be on Broadway. Do you see yourself as a trailblazer?

The beauty of this is that I attracted people from Monroe [N.Y.], Lakewood [N.J.], Brooklyn… I had someone fly out from Toronto for his son’s birthday for this. I attracted people of all kinds. It’s the first time that I introduced it to this kind of community on such a level. To have a whole band onstage with dancers and do the real moves they do, you know, in Hollywood. I am pushing the envelope by discussing things people in these communities don’t generally discuss: going to therapy, the rabbis’ flaws, etc. But I am still keeping some boundaries, like no women on the show. Not that I believe God has a problem with that, but there’s a comfort zone and if I go out of that comfort zone, I am catering to a different audience.

In college they once brought down a Broadway producer and he heard me sing, and he said, “You know, you could really go out there.” It used to bother me that I could go out and make it in Hollywood. A., in a moment of honesty, I don’t know if I’d get to Hollywood; millions of talents don’t make it. B., I have a clientele of hundreds of young teenagers that are in a sort of jail — they don’t get the opportunity to get this entertainment. For many years they put me through a guilt trip for bringing that in, but that now turned into positive energy. Yes, I bring in entertainment. I need to cater to them and stay strong.

**So you want to push the boundaries, but you still want to remain in your comfort zone. Do you ever see yourself at a point where you can push it further and bring a woman onto the stage — perhaps not to dance, but to be a part of the scene? **

As of this moment, as I see myself, I don’t think I would do it. Between me and God, there may be ways around it.

What’s your takeaway form the show?

I want to bring into the community a lot of theater. I realized onstage the real power of theater. Lately I’m much more positive, but I still look at a negative letter here and there. Something changed in me. I woke up the next morning of the show, and people were sending me criticism on WhatsApp. Whenever I saw something negative, I signed off. Of course there are critics in the professional world. But for me to continue and to do the things I do, I need to focus on the positive.

Playing a therapist, I told “Max” to stop focusing on the negativity. So when I was sitting in front of 1,500 people saying that, I really internalized it.

I would like to talk a little about your new album, “Dus Pintele — The Hidden Spark.” Can you explain what it’s about?

My new album is a lot of cutting-edge new tracks and new messages. I cater to a lot of people who don’t understand Yiddish, and it can be contradicting. I have people often asking me, “Who do you cater to? If you talk Yiddish, you cater to a different audience. Why do you give the message you give? Focus to be a different Lipa than you are. And if you don’t want to do that, go all English and give different messages.”

The answer is, I do the kind of art I connect to. And the truth is that a lot of people speak Yiddish who are with the same mindset as me. And that’s the people I cater to. And that’s only thousands upon thousands of people, and that’s good enough. There are a lot of modern people who listen to me like people listen to Italian singers.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Talk about a fashion faux pas. What was Zara thinking with the concentration camp look?
  • “The Black community was resistant to the Jewish community coming into the neighborhood — at first.” Watch this video about how a group of gardeners is rebuilding trust between African-Americans and Jews in Detroit.
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" http://jd.fo/b4ucX What would you do?
  • Maybe he was trying to give her a "schtickle of fluoride"...
  • It's all fun, fun, fun, until her dad takes the T-Bird away for Shabbos.
  • "Like many Jewish people around the world, I observed Shabbat this weekend. I didn’t light candles or recite Hebrew prayers; I didn’t eat challah or matzoh ball soup or brisket. I spent my Shabbat marching for justice for Eric Garner of Staten Island, Michael Brown of Ferguson, and all victims of police brutality."
  • Happy #NationalDogDay! To celebrate, here's a little something from our archives:
  • A Jewish couple was attacked on Monday night in New York City's Upper East Side. According to police, the attackers flew Palestinian flags.
  • "If the only thing viewers knew about the Jews was what they saw on The Simpsons they — and we — would be well served." What's your favorite Simpsons' moment?
  • "One uncle of mine said, 'I came to America after World War II and I hitchhiked.' And Robin said, 'I waited until there was a 747 and a kosher meal.'" Watch Billy Crystal's moving tribute to Robin Williams at last night's #Emmys:
  • "Americans are much more focused on the long term and on the end goal which is ending the violence, and peace. It’s a matter of zooming out rather than debating the day to day.”
  • "I feel great sorrow about the fact that you decided to return the honor and recognition that you so greatly deserve." Rivka Ben-Pazi, who got Dutchman Henk Zanoli recognized as a "Righteous Gentile," has written him an open letter.
  • Is there a right way to criticize Israel?
  • From The Daily Show to Lizzy Caplan, here's your Who's Jew guide to the 2014 #Emmys. Who are you rooting for?
  • “People at archives like Yad Vashem used to consider genealogists old ladies in tennis shoes. But they have been impressed with our work on indexing documents. Now they are lining up to work with us." This year's Jewish Genealogical Societies conference took place in Utah. We got a behind-the-scenes look:
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.