Mordechai Rosenfeld, now known as Modi, was born in Tel Aviv, Israel, and moved to New York with his family when he was seven years old. After studying cantorial music and working as a Wall Street international banker, Modi changed professions over a decade ago, becoming a widely known Jewish comedian.
Modi is currently visiting Israel and holding performances over Sukkot in several cities around the country, to raise money for the Koby Mandell Foundation.
Modi believes that the connection between laughter and tragedy is what brings about ‘Mashiach energy’. The Koby Mandel Foundation helps bereaved families due to an act of terror and other tragedies to rebuild their lives and create meaning out of suffering. Modi believes that even in situations like this, laughter is going to bring that ‘Mashiach energy’.
So what is ‘Mashiach Energy’?
Modi explains that “if you've ever done a show and you have Jews of every denomination, religion, every type of yarmulke, Orthodox, Reform in the audience and they are all laughing together at once, this is when you begin to understand what ‘Mashiach energy’ is.” Modi’s goal is to bring ‘Mashiach energy’ into everything he does.
He adds that “when you see the protests and Jews with a flag on their back singing, that is ‘Mashiach energy.’ This is a mixture of Jews, some are not religious and some are religious. All of a sudden, they're uniting and singing songs together on a Motzei Shabbat.”
Modi loves to “joke” about the differences between Sephardim and Ashkenazim, but as an Ashkenazi, he feels that he can laugh more at his own people. He receives many comments from his audience, such as from some Ashkenazi women who are married to Sephardim and they're just so happy to talk about it. “It's like a National Geographic kind of peek into Jewish life.”
Modi especially loves performing in Israel, as he feels that he “doesn’t have to explain himself” when making jokes in Hebrew or about Judaism. “Here I just keep going because everybody knows exactly what I'm talking about.”
He is also using his time in Israel to “collect more humor.” He claims that Israel is full, full, full of observational laughter, which is what he does well. Whether he is talking about taxes, cars, or any other topic – “Nonstop. It's just everything in Israel, but it's so specific to people who are living here. I can't explain Israeli humor to people who are not living here.”
He adds that the situation in Israel these days is insane and if ever there was a need for ‘Mashiach energy,’ it is right now!
Modi wants to make people laugh. “I mention the Holocaust, I mention antisemitism so that people don't forget it, but I do it with humor. That's the difference.”
Modi was born in Israel and it is clear that he feels at home here. “I love Israel. It's in my heart the whole time. I don't think I could live here, because, you know, I'm a comic in America. But there's nothing more special than being in Israel, seeing the Hebrew, hearing the Hebrew, dealing with it. It's a difficult place to live in. It's not an easy place. It's like a fight for everything, but it's our fight and it's amazing. I love visiting Israel. I love the audience here. It's such an honor to be known as a Jewish comedian, not just a comic who's Jewish; a Jewish comedian, and to be performing in Israel, the Jewish state. That is ‘Mashiach energy.’