It is amazingly hard not to love Lipa Schmeltzer. The former Skverer chasid has been banned, blacklisted and almost banished; but that doesn’t stop him from doing what he loves and producing some of the best Jewish music out there. Tablet Magazine’s Joe Winkler spent a day with the pop star, whom the Daily News dubbed “Jewish Elvis.”
Schmeltzer in a single day goes often from Jewish enclave to Jewish enclave, and on the day we spent together last February, he went from Monsey to New Square to Airmont and then from Flatbush to Borough Park to Williamsburg, ending up in the Lower East side and then finally Columbia before returning to his house. On the way, he discussed: Jewish academia, the legacy of the Holocaust, the relationship of non-Jews to Hasidim, Steve Jobs, the nature of progress, classical music, opera, the subconscious, ars poetica, music therapy, dance, the trauma of his past, his hopes for his and his family’s future, the downside and pleasures of fame, and modern literature. “A friend told me to read this book by a secular Jewish writer,” he explained. “I don’t remember the name of the book, but it’s famous. Has a lot of short stories and one long one.” “Goodbye, Columbus,” I guessed, citing Philip Roth’s famous collection. “Yes!” he said, as if recapturing a cherished memory. “What an interesting book!”
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