The other week we reported on a shoot of Lipa Schmeltzer’s latest music video, in which the popular Hasidic singer dressed up in an Israel Defense Forces uniform, along with members of the Nahal Hareidi, or ultra-Orthodox division of the IDF. That video, titled “Mizrach,” has now been released.
The army uniform is just one of Lipa’s many costumes. In the video he wears everything from a simple white shirt and black pants to a golden bekishe, to an “I Love Israel” t-shirt. With lyrics that come from a daily prayer about the ingathering of Jewish exiles, the song delivers a straightforward statement of Jewish unity. It’s a simple message, though still bound to upset extremist factions within the ultra-Orthodox community, who are opposed to both army service and t-shirts. That’s assuming they ever see it, which isn’t likely, since they also oppose the Internet.
What’s important is that Schmeltzer continues to push for a broad, inclusive version of Orthodox Judaism that can accomodate a range of fashion choices as well as more serious decisions, like IDF service. And he seems to be succeeding. More, even, his popularity is helping to marginalize those who might marginalize him. As for the song, well — it’s not my favorite. But the message is important, and its delivery, even more so.
Watch Lipa Schmeltzer’s ‘Mizrach’:
Ezra Glinter is the critic-at-large of the Forward.
The Many Outfits of Lipa Schmeltzer