Wednesday, February 28, 2024

The Matisyahu Story +1

An Update: It's a new week, and Abq Jew is sure that you, his loyal readers, must be wondering what's new with Matisyahu. No, Abq Jew is not planning to follow Matisyahu all over the world for the rest of his (let's leave the referent ambiguous) life - may we all live to 120! But one update is cool.

Matisyahu at Cal

Surprisingly, Aaron Levy-Wolins of J. (The Jewish News of Northern California) reports that Matisyahu successfully performed at UC Berkeley (yes, Berkeley, of all places) last week.

Matisyahu vibes in Berkeley despite pro-Palestinian protest outside theater

Jewish reggae singer and rapper Matisyahu enthralled a packed house Thursday night at UC Theatre in Berkeley, a week after two concerts on his current U.S. tour were canceled due to pressure from pro-Palestinian activists.

Before the show began, as concert-goers made their way inside the theater, a group of about 20 protesters wearing masks or keffiyehs covering their faces held signs with anti-Israel messages and yelled through bullhorns. They marched in a circle on the sidewalk and chanted, “Free, free Palestine” and “You’re supporting genocide.”

Inside, the atmosphere was overwhelmingly supportive of Israel and Matisyahu. A woman who did not want to be identified handed out large square stickers reading “FCK HMS,” meaning “F— Hamas.” Hundreds of concert-goers let out a loud cheer when Matisyahu took the stage after the opening act, alternative band Cydeways, finished its set. 

Matisyahu Defense Fund

On the other hand, there's The Matisyahu Defense Fund.

This is David Draiman of Disturbed, and I’m raising funds to provide security for my friend, Matisyahu, an amazing, peace loving artist, who is currently dealing with unprecedented levels of Antisemitism. 

Matisyahu and I first met years ago when he performed in Miami Beach and I had my management reach out to him when I heard about his unfortunate show cancellations in Arizona. 

I couldn’t let that stand. Couldn’t let him and his family continue to be terrorized, so this campaign was started. All funds will be wire transferred to Matisyahu’s management team to pay for a private security detail for him and his family for the remainder of his current tour.

Please donate so that our brother and his family remain safe and sound in the face of this hatred.

David Draiman

In the meantime - David Brinn of the Jerusalem Post reports that people donated.
Disturbed’s David Draiman raises $26,000 for Matisyahu’s security
Over the last 48 hours over 1,000 people donated to the campaign, money will be used to pay for private security for Matisyahu and his family.

A GoFundMe campaign initiated by Jewish American hard rocker David Draiman, lead singer of Disturbed, to raise $25,000 to provide security for fellow Jewish reggae roots singer Matisyahu, more than reached its goal in only two days.
Mayim Bialik

Which then brings us to Matisyahu's response to this whole mess. As reported by Mom, Actor, Author, Neuroscientist, and Proud Jew Mayim Bialik!

Reggae musician Matisyahu is experiencing canceled concerts on his current Hold the Fire tour. He released this beautiful and brave statement about what’s going on, and I wanted to repost it. Please read the whole thing. It’s very powerful.

Matisyahu Statement


Which brings us all the way back to the Jewish Community Relations Coalition of New Mexico (JCRC-NM). 

As Abq Jew mentioned last week (see The Matisyahu Story), the JCRC-NM later sent out a Press Release, a version of which was also sent to Meow Wolf executives and the Mayor of Santa Fe, Alan Webber.

Whereupon ensued what Abq Jew sincerely hopes will be a productive and forward-thinking correspondence between the JCRC-NM and Meow Wolf. The JCRC-NM specifically asked:

  • Does Meow Wolf have a policy that artists with particular political views may not show their art or perform at Meow Wolf? If so, what is that policy? Might you be willing share it publicly with the community?
  • Will you block other Jewish artists from displaying their art or performing under the auspices of Meow Wolf if they support the right of the Jewish people to have a state in our ancient homeland?
  • Have you cancelled or refused to schedule any other artists at Meow Wolf based on community or employee objections to the artist’s personal views?
  • How does Meow Wolf vet allegations made by community members or employees regarding what an individual artist believes or stands for? Did you research any of the allegations made against Matisyahu or ask him about them before cancelling the concert?
  • What have you communicated to those who bought tickets to attend the concert and may have travelled long distances to come to Santa Fe that day?
  • Do you plan to invite Matisyahu to return to the community to perform at another time?
Meow Wolf Santa Fe

And Meow Wolf responded:
Thank you for sharing these questions. We take your concerns seriously. 
And your letter highlights the need for a deeper dialogue, especially regarding our engagement with the Jewish community and ensuring our space remains welcoming to all artists. 
First, I want to reassure you that at Meow Wolf, no Jewish artists, nor their audiences, will be discriminated against or silenced merely because they are Jewish and support the existence of Israel as a sovereign state in the homeland of the Jewish people. 
Free expression is one of our core values as a company, and we welcome all artists and points of views. Meow Wolf believes in the power of art to bring people together. 
We do not tolerate Antisemitism, hate, racism, discrimination or violence of any kind. I also want to reiterate the following: 
  • The Matisyahu show was canceled because of safety concerns and not because of the artist’s religious or political beliefs.
  • As is often the case in matters such as these, misinformation shared on social media channels was partially responsible for escalating this situation quickly and unexpectedly. 
  • We are still a relatively young company and we were unprepared for key employees not reporting to work as scheduled. 
  • We have room for improvement and education on several fronts, and we are eager to engage with community leaders to discuss policies that more clearly reflect our values as an organization and prevent situations like this one from happening in the future. 
  • We have apologized to all ticket holders and offered them a full refund plus two tickets to visit Meow Wolf in the future. At the appropriate time, I also hope to speak to Matisyahu in person and apologize to him as well. 
  • We deeply regret how this situation played out, and we hope to restore trust with the Jewish community and repair our relationship with Matisyahu. 
If you are available, I would welcome the opportunity to speak to you in person in more detail. It's crucial for us to understand your perspective, share ours, and explore how we can better support and celebrate the diversity of artistic expressions at Meow Wolf, including those from the Jewish community. 
We're committed to creating an environment where artists from every background feel valued. And I believe a face-to-face discussion will help us address your questions more effectively and collaboratively find ways to reinforce this commitment. 
In the meantime, I thank you for initiating this important dialogue. We look forward to working together to ensure Meow Wolf remains a vibrant space for the arts that is welcoming to all.
One More Thing

UC Berkeley

UC Berkeley is, alas, still UC Berkeley.

And Now Back

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