Jewish singer Matisyahu performs at Columbia University amid growing antisemitism

NEWS: Jewish singer Matisyahu performs at Columbia University amid growing antisemitism

Jewish American reggae singer and rapper Matisyahu performed an intimate concert at Columbia University on Monday to lift the Jewish student community’s spirits amid skyrocketing antisemitism on campus.

The “King Without a Crown” singer volunteered for the free show — live-streamed to other students grappling with growing hate across the nation — to galvanize the Jewish community he said has become his support system during a difficult time.

“It’s sort of like a little bit of a contradiction because I guess the thing that feels the scariest right now is the feeling of being alone. But the thing that feels the most inspiring is the feeling of being connected to our people, which is unbelievable and miraculous,” Matisyahu told Israel’s former Special Envoy for Combatting Antisemitism, Noa Tishby, in a brief interview before the concert kicked off.

“It’s sort of a feeling both at the same time. It’s a confusing time, I think, for a lot of Jews.”

Singer Matisyahu holds a concert at Columbia University on Monday night to inspire Jewish students in the face of antisemitism.
Israel on Campus Coalition
Pro-Palestinian demonstrators gather for a protest at Columbia University on Oct. 12, 2023.

In the pre-recorded special “message of support for students and community members,” Matisyahu and Tishby reflected on the Jewish people’s long history of facing prejudice, often in violent forms, but highlighted the community’s resiliency in the face of hatred.

Matisyahu said that he has turned to his successful music career for solace in the weeks since Hamas launched its Oct. 7 surprise attack, killing more than 1,200 Israelis and taking roughly 200 hostages.

“Always, when there’s opposition to my being, to who I am — which at the kernel of it is being Jewish — whenever I’ve felt that, somehow some instinctive reaction inside of me goes on the offensive and I put everything that I have in my all my soul, my energy and my heart into what I’m doing into my music,” the “One Day” singer said.

“Really, what is it that I can really be of service to people? And I think that’s in creating music. I’m playing shows for people right now, especially for my Jews, for my fellow people, brothers and sisters. So immediately when I saw what’s happening on campuses, I felt like somehow connected to that and that I needed to be a part of it.”

Matisyahu’s show was live-streamed to other students grappling with growing hate across the nation.
Israel on Campus Coalition
Matisyahu volunteered for the free Monday evening show.
Israel on Campus Coalition

The concert was sponsored by Columbia University’s Israel on Campus Coalition, an organization that claims to work to “inspire” American college students and pro-Israel college groups to “see Israel as a source of pride and empower them to stand up for Israel on campus.” 

It was put on just one week after the Ivy League launched an antisemitism task force to address the “terribly resilient” hatred that has swept across its campus since the Israel-Hamas conflict erupted last month.

The school said it was pushed to establish the task force after a notable increase in the amount of reported antisemitic attacks — a phenomenon that has been reflected in other major universities across the nation.

The singer performs live on stage during “The Chosen Comedy Festival” at James L. Knight Center on December 14, 2022 in Miami, Florida.
Getty Images

The reported incidents ranged from physical assaults — including the attack of an Israeli student outside the library of the Morningside Campus — to ideological rumblings that left Jewish students slamming the university for leaving them to feel “unsafe.”

Columbia University also announced the formation of the task force the same day it activated a doxxing resource group to protect pro-Palestinian students.

The school was finally pushed last week to suspend two of its opposing far-left groups through the end of the fall term saying both had violated university policies

Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) “repeatedly violated University policies related to holding campus events, culminating in an unauthorized event Thursday afternoon that proceeded despite warnings and included threatening rhetoric and intimidation,” Columbia alleged.

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