The famous singer Matisyahu joined Arutz Sheva - Israel National News in Jerusalem to talk about his mission on behalf of the Jewish people. “I think that we all have our job to do, and a lot of us right now are feeling chosen, that we're part of the mission of the Jewish people. We have our soldiers protecting us and looking for our hostages, people reporting, we have people doing all kinds of things. I feel there aren't that many people that are doing music, that are performing out in the world and standing up for Israel and for what's going on.”

Matisyahu claims to have felt his calling early in the war. “Right after October 7th I felt like an initial impact and I think by the time the day was over, it became very clear that this was something that was going to be important.’’

He spoke about his visit to the towns targeted by Hamas: “It was just intense. There's no way you can see on social media and connect to it in the same way as being there and feeling the weight of what happened.”

Matisyahu recorded a music video for his new single Ascent in the wreckage of the southern Israel towns. “The song I wrote after the Kanye lash out, in response to anti-Semitism that was going on in the States and in the rest of the world. the video we shot while we were here and released it after this tour, on our way back, so it's been a full circle. We wanted to show the tragedy that happened and the power of the Israeli people and the Jewish people to come together and to stand up for ourselves.’’

He discussed his choice to end his video with the singing of a chapter of Psalms. “It felt fully relevant in terms of the content of the song and what we're going through right now as a people. It was an improvisational moment when the beat was playing and the words were done and then that popped into my head.”

Matisyahu mourned the lack of support for Israel in the world. “The fact that you have so few people, especially in America, standing up for Israel reveals this truth about American Judaism. There's been a generational gap in terms of the connection that non-Israeli Jews in the world have with Israel, and certainly in the religious communities. A big majority of Jews somehow don't understand the history, don't feel the connection, or don't know their own tradition. There's a lot of lost Jews right now. When something like this happens you have people coming together. We know that Israel has had a lot of issues leading up to this in terms of the split that's gone on, and the internal struggles and extremes happening, but it seems like certainly when there's something tragic that happens, the Jewish people seem to come together and rise to the occasion.”

He shared his personal experience with antisemitism. “Being someone who does speak up and does not feel ashamed or any negative feelings about being a Zionist or about coming to Israel or about playing for the soldiers seems like that's a foreign idea in America. We've had a lot of protesters that have been effective and putting pressure on certain people to cancel shows, but most of the places that we've been, we were able to continue and play our shows. We just did a thirty-four city tour where three shows were canceled, so that's a pretty good percentage.”

The cancellations, he claims, have done nothing to stop him advocating for Israel. “On the contrary, when I feel the oppositional force it somehow like lights my spark, my Jewish flames. Maybe I come from a certain tribe, maybe it's just my personality.”

He talked about his connection to the IDF soldiers who viewed his shows. “As a Jew who doesn't live in Israel, but understands the importance of what Israel means to us, I really feel that the the soldiers are really protecting us and and keeping the spirit of the Jewish people alive. I've never felt so honored to be in the presence of people.”

He addressed the growing divide between Israel and the USA. “It's a little bit scary, and it reinforces the fear that Jews hold with them from generations of having governments that turn against us at some point, which is the entire reason why we have the state of Israel. It's this funny little dance going on here.”

Matisyahu is planning several additional appearances in Israel during his current tour. “I'll be performing Tuesday night in Jerusalem and Wednesday night in Tel Aviv. I'm really looking forward to it - I'm performing with an Israeli band one of my best friends put together. Daniel Zamir made a great band of musicians, and I have my guitar player Aaron Dugan who came with me from home.”

His band has suffered antisemitism as well. “A lot of these guys that are with me have been through a lot. They've been spit on while trying set up their gear. These protesters don't really care if you're Jewish or not. If you're associated with me, then they're coming after you, so it's nice to bring my good friend Aaron. He's been here many times before over the years, but to bring him here and be able to bring one of my close friends in on how beautiful Israel is, even now - it's been nice.”

He concluded with a message to the Israeli people. “My message to the Jewish people is to be strong and not give up on your hope. Stay connected to your feelings right now, and thank you for standing up for the the Jews all over the world. We feel closer to you than ever.”

Matisyahu was honored at the Am Yisrael Chai convention, an event held at the International Convention Center (ICC) in Jerusalem by the Ministry for Diaspora Affairs and Combating Antisemitism to show appreciation for diaspora Jewry as part of the Jewish Diaspora Week.

Speaking to Arutz Sheva - Israel National News, Diaspora Affairs minister Amichai Chikli said the decision to honor Matisyahu was easy: 'He could have continued on with his career, with no mention of Israel. Instead, like Esther, he said 'I will be a proud Jew, raise my flag high, and stand with my people, so we wanted to thank and salute him."