Friday, August 28, 2015

Lipa, the new Shlomo Carlebach


In the aftermath of Lipa's truly remarkable latest album a new picture of Lipa is clearly emerging. Lipa has evolved to be not only a singer but a transformative figure in the JM scene; not only a guy trying to fit in, but an artist conveying a new, fresh message. And this message, of the new Lipa, is present in pretty much all the songs of his album - non-conformism, innovation and positivism. He is often labeled the "Jewish Lady Gaga", but I prefer to compare him to a much more interesting and important person - to Reb Shlomo Carlebach.

Shlomo Carlebach was another transformative figure in Jewish Music. He was more than just music; Carlebach was about connecting to every Jew, irrespective of affiliation, through his simple and catchy niggunim and stories. His impact was truly remarkable and unparalleled, unlike any other Jewish Music artist. 

As popular as they are/were, MBD, Avraham Fried, Shwekey and the like didn't really aim to transform anything. They were great singers, who inspired many with their songs and fitted in what was politically correct in Jewish Music. Lipa is aiming higher, much higher - he wants to transform his community with his music, with a message of openness, education and non-conformism. In his popular Sheni Vechamishi videos, he tackles many hot topics and doesn't shy away from controversy. See two recent examples:



Let's face it - many of the Hareidi/Chassidic communities around the world are increasingly becoming less tolerant and more Ghetto-minded than ever before. As time passes by, these communities are frantically doing what they can to shield themselves from the perceived ills of modern technology and music, and they keep sanctioning more restrictions and chumres. Of course, there's a lot of positive aspects in these communities too but that doesn't mean all is perfect. In fact, it's far from perfect and some of the issues Lipa is raising, like the lack of secular education for example, are really pressing and should be looked into.

Lipa's new album is clearly offering an alternative path. Positivism, non-conformism and innovation, all while staying true to Torah and Halachos. Like Shlomo Carlebach, Lipa is walking his own path and even started his own Shul (Airmont), following Shlomo's footsteps in this aspect. And that does entail some degree of risks - bans, threats and some other unpleasant things that could follow. But like Carlebach, Lipa is now having a real impact, and thus far, a positive in impact in Jewish Music as a whole.