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 7 of 7)

Would it matter to you if you knew this guy is not observing?

I don’t want to go into that conversation. There are certain things I can say I believe and certain things I can’t. The reason why is because if the Halacha says clearly that if I see someone drive to shul, I can’t give him an aliya, I can’t come out and say “Hey, I disagree with Halacha.” But definitely, whatever loophole I can find to push the envelope, I will do it.

It has to be within a comfort zone, and it can’t go on and on. The bottom line is, there are a gazillion loopholes. The Halacha was written thousands of years ago.

The guy that I gave an aliyah was someone who finished close to a thousand blots of gemura [rabbinical commentary] then his father ended up a drug addict and went through a crazy, dirty divorce. And he comes to my shul. He doesn’t get paid for it; there was no Kiddush, no cheesecake. He came because he felt the need on the holiday to feel connected. So I have the opportunity to punch him in his face and tell him to get out. Or I have the opportunity to give him an aliyah. You know what, if they want to write and say bad things about me because of this, then so be it. I want to go to hell, if they believe in hell, I want to go there for giving an aliyah for this guy. Let this be my last problem.

Why do you brand yourself as a Hasidic superstar?

It’s not something I brand myself as. I was born and raised in New Square [N.Y.] and started to sing with zero education and just with God-given talent. Now I do see an advantage that people look at me that way, because I can make change in that community. If I’m not mistaken, the number of Jews in world is 14 million. How many are ultra-Orthodox — what, a million? To be just a secular superstar, maybe that wasn’t why I was sent down here. There is lots of good secular entertainment. Maybe I was sent to be specifically for the niche of the Hasidic and ultra-Orthodox, where people are starving and need a cup of fresh water and this entertainment.

The bottom line is, the world is changing and we’re not going back. I don’t think I’ll wake up tomorrow and people will say we decided to give up cars and go back to horse and buggy, we decided to give up cell phones and go back to telegrams. It just doesn’t happen. Even rabbis with all comfortabilities from microwave to cars, they take it. But somehow, with entertainment, they get all, you know, because it’s a new thing. Before I came around there were singers, even good singers, but not the kind that they run after them for autographs. And they look at [the fame] and ask: “Who’s Lipa’s authority? Who does he ask what to do? He can’t just do it.”

I have an IQ, you know. I have God-given talent. I am not doing crazy things. I am pushing the envelope. I am an entertainer. I’d rather die having made 100 mistakes that I regret than doing anything at all. I’m experimenting; I’m a human being, and that’s okay. “Yeah, but you’re famous, you have a responsibility, you can’t make mistakes.” Yes, I’m famous, and therefore I have a responsibility to show everyone it is okay to make mistakes.

I think I have an advantage that I am giving this for people where it’s needed. People tell me I can be really big in the real world. I am in a place where I am needed. The secular world has plenty good entertainment, they don’t need Lipa. But people in this community do.

I am filling a gap to bring cutting-edge Jewish entertainment for the younger generation. And this is what I’m doing, and I think I’m doing a damn good job!

So what’s next?

I don’t know. The truth is, school is next. I need to hide myself and be a good student and get good grades again. Not that I have bad grades now, but I was very overwhelmed until now. I want to go back to doing weddings, little shows, but not to undertake so much pressure. Continue my education and not be under the limelight all the time. One day I can be Lipa on Broadway and the next day I can be in school. Do weddings, shows, go once a week to hospitals to cheer up the sick; be a good student, a good father to my children, a good husband to my wife, and a good leader to people of my shul. When I feel I have more energy to do something crazy, I’ll definitely come up with stuff.

This story has been edited for style and length.


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!
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • 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.