Jewish-American reggae singer and rapper Matisyahu performed an intimate concert at Columbia University on Monday to lift the spirits of the Jewish student community amid rising anti-Semitism on campus.
The “King Without a Crown” singer volunteered the free show — which was streamed live for other students grappling with growing hate across the country — to motivate the Jewish community, which he said has become his support system during a difficult time.
“It’s kind of paradoxical because I think the scariest thing right now is the feeling of loneliness. But the most inspiring thing is the feeling of connection to our people, which is incredible,” Matisyahu told former Israeli special envoy to combat anti-Semitism, Jua Tishby, in a short interview before the ceremony began. “And a miracle.”
“It kind of feels at the same time. I think this is a confusing time for a lot of Jews.”
In a pre-recorded “Special Message of Support to Students and Community Members,” Matisyahu and Tishby spoke about the Jewish people’s long history of facing prejudice, often in violent forms, but they highlighted the community’s resilience in the face of hatred.
Matisyahu said he turned to his successful music career for solace in the weeks after Hamas launched its surprise attack on October 7, killing more than 1,200 Israelis and taking nearly 200 hostage.
“Always, when there is opposition to who I am, to who I am — which is, in essence, being Jewish — whenever I feel that, one way or another, some instinctive reaction inside of me turns on the attack and I put everything I have into it,” the “One Day” singer said. My soul, my energy, and my heart in what I do in my music.”
“Really, what can I really do to serve people? And I think that’s in creating music. I’m performing for people now, especially for Jews, and for my brothers and sisters. So, when I immediately saw what was happening on campus, I felt like I was somehow connected to that and that I needed Until I can be a part of it.
The concert was sponsored by Columbia University’s Campus Israel Coalition, an organization that claims to “inspire” American college students and pro-Israel university groups “to see Israel as a source of pride and to empower them to advocate for Israel on campus.” “.
It was put in place just one week after the Ivy League launched an anti-Semitism task force to address the “extremely persistent” hatred that has swept its campus since the conflict between Israel and Hamas erupted last month.
The college said it was forced to create the task force after a notable increase in the number of reported anti-Semitic attacks — a phenomenon mirrored at other major universities across the country.
Reported incidents ranged from physical assaults — including an attack on an Israeli student outside the Morningside campus library — to ideological rancor that saw Jewish students criticize the university for leaving them feeling “unsafe.”
Columbia University also announced the formation of the task force on the same day it activated a resource kit to collect personal information to protect pro-Palestinian students.
The school was finally pressured last week to suspend two of its far-left opposition groups until the end of the fall semester, saying both had violated university policies.
Columbia University alleged that Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) “repeatedly violated university policies regarding holding events on campus, culminating in an unauthorized event Thursday afternoon that continued despite warnings.” It included a threatening and intimidating speech.”
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