Jewish superstar Lipa Schmeltzer is using his celebrity status as a springboard for the greater good, with the release of a music video that uses a hit song to promote solidarity among Jews worldwide, no matter what their background or religious leanings.
The video features the dance sensation Mizrach, one of the most popular tracks from Lipa’s recent album “Leap of Faith” and shows the bespectacled mujsician singing and dancing with a group of Israeli soldiers, members of the noted Netzach Yehuda Battalion of the Nachal Hareidi. Part of the Kfir Brigade of the Israeli Defense Forces, Netzach Yehuda was intended to give religious Israeli soldiers the opportunity to serve in the army while adhering to their level of religious observance.
With the expiration of the Tal Law one month ago, the Israeli army has been the subject of much media scrutiny and criticism from the hareidi rabbinate, as full time yeshiva students who were previously exempted from military service are now facing the possibility of the draft. Without a law providing criteria for deciding who does receive Torah study exemption, thousands of Israeli yeshiva students might receive arbitrary draft notices in the upcoming future and the army is trying to find solutions for their integration into the system for which it is ill-prepared.
With the release of the new video which clocks in at just under six minutes long, Schmeltzer hopes to help bridge the gap between Israel’s secular and hareidi populations, with the clear message of unity among all Jews expressed in the lyrics of the song.
“There are hareidim serving in the army and we should value their service,” explained Schmeltzer, who has strong ties to the Nachal Hareidi. He is a close friend of David Hager, a staunch supporter of the religious battalion.
Directed by producer Danny Finkelman, the video was shot in various locations around Israel and features the outspoken singer, who is known for his unabashed love of Jews of all affiliations and support of countless Jewish causes, dressed in army fatigues as he dances in a Jerusalem square with Israeli soldiers and with six Israeli teenagers in several other spots across the country.
Schmeltzer has faced scathing criticism and has even been boycotted in parts of the mainstream hareidi community for past video clips and performances which were said to overstep boundaries. This clip has aroused controversy as well, as has the Nachal Hareidi whose detractors claim that the hareidi youth enlisting in it are those who are not strongly observant to begin with, that they have become even less so during their army service, and that it is the devoutly religious Zionist youth who enlisted in the unit who give it the religious tone.