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The Schmooze

Will Ice Cube sit down for Shabbat dinner with an Orthodox rabbi?

When it’s once more possible for us to invite strangers into our homes, rapper Ice Cube may find himself blessing the challah alongside an Orthodox rabbi.

That’s because New York-based rabbi Avram Mlotek managed to connect with the rapper in an unlikely online medium: Cameo, an app that allows celebrities to send personalized video messages to fans.

Mlotek, the founder of Base Hillel, a community organization for young Jews, shared on Monday a video message he’d received from Ice Cube in which the rapper, who has a history of making anti-Semitic statements online, affirmed a commitment to fighting anti-Semtisim.

“I’m denouncing racism and anti-Semitism,” the rapper said in the video. “We don’t need that in this world. We’re trying to get some understanding, man. We’re trying to get a human connection.”

View this post on Instagram

I asked @icecube because of his iconic stature in hip hop and because he had posted some anti-semitic memes online. He rejected my first request (I was asking him to acknowledge how well researched my book was in exploring how Jews control the world amid denouncing anti-semitism). But then Ice commented back to me in the chat section of Cameo. And I was not expecting that. I shared how much we’d love to have him over for Shabbat dinner after COVID ends. Here’s the final product. I don’t think Ice hates Jews though he dabbles in unhelpful tropes. I appreciate him stating the obvious here: “we trying to make a human connection.” Much love. Ice, you’ll know where to find me after COVID lets up. #rabbi #icecube #jews #blacks #unity

A post shared by Avram Mlotek (@avrammlotek) on

Throughout the summer, Ice Cube has faced backlash for several memes and social media posts seen as anti-Semitic. He’s clapped back at public figures, like CNN anchor Jake Tapper, who have criticized Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan for his anti-Semtic views. When former basketball player and Hollywood Reporter columnist Kareem Abdul-Jabbar published a column calling out anti-Semitism in sports and Hollywood that made reference to Ice Cube, the rapper accused Abdul-Jabbar of taking “30 pieces of silver” to criticize him. The phrase is a reference to Judas, the disciple said to have betrayed Jesus.

In an Instagram post about the message, Mlotek said that (perhaps motivated by Bari Weiss’s new status as explainer of all things Jewish to Nick Cannon) he first reached out to Ice Cube hoping to share his recently published book, “Why Jews Do That,” a quippy compendium that answers basic questions about Jewish belief and practice. While it appears Cube was untempted by this offer, the two started messaging, and Mlotek extended an invitation to Shabbat dinner in the post-coronavirus future.

“I don’t think Ice hates Jews though he dabbles in unhelpful tropes,” Mlotek wrote on Instagram. “I appreciate him stating the obvious here: ‘We trying to make a human connection.’”

In an email, Mlotek said he hopes to one day host Ice Cube for Shabbat dinner and introduce the rapper to members of the Black Jewish community so he can “hear first hand about their experiences as Black Jews.”

Irene Katz Connelly is an editorial fellow at the Forward. You can contact her at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @katz_conn.

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