It’s actually because of Matisyahu and his music that helped convince me at the right time to drop everything, move to Israel and join the IDF. Specifically, two songs. Jerusalem and Warrior which also happen to be two of his earlier songs. But with all music, words alone cannot do them justice so here are the songs, assuming It doesn’t get pulled.
At one point I considered getting the lyric
“Jerusalem, if I forget you, let my right hand forget what it’s supposed to do.”
tattooed on me, in Hebrew as it is a biblical verse. I am glad the tattoo artist convinced me out of it as it is a bit too religious for my liking now. Instead, I got the Hebrew word for life tattooed on me, to symbolize that I chose life, which I put in the center of my black and white star of David. It not only expressed my identity, as I am a proud Jew even if I have great disdain for religion but also that the universe demands unity of everything. Male and female, right and wrong, and good and evil. tattooed on me, in Hebrew as it is a biblical verse.
However, the second verse of Jerusalem, in particular, spoke to me, which goes as follows:
“Rebuild the temple and the crown of glory
Years gone by, about sixty
Burn in the oven in this century
And the gas tried to choke, but it couldn’t choke me
I will not lie down, I will not fall asleep
They come overseas, yes they’re trying to be free
Erase the demons out of our memory
Change your name and your identity
Afraid of the truth and our dark history
Why is everybody always chasing we
Cut off the roots of your family tree
Don’t you know that’s not the way to be”
It references the Holocaust and how history has attempted to destroy the Jews as a people, uproot us and destroy our lineage. Did I mention I am a proud Jew?
I decided to accept my identity as a Jew not because I care about the Torah, not because I am religious, not because I like the holidays but because of history. In the end, it does not matter what I think, whether I accept myself as a cultural Jew, a religious Jew, or a genetic Jew. Those around me will always see me as a Jew.
Hitler determined that if you had two grandparents that were Jewish, even if you weren’t a practicing Jew you would be considered a Jew and thus subject to the atrocities that were committed under his orders. This was even used in the construction of Israels’ Right to Return Laws.
Despite claims that there is no anti-Semitism in this world, it is a false narrative. Even when there are mass protests, like the misguided love trumps hate rallies, many of those who claim to operate in the name of love still hate Jews. For antisemitism is real and strong as ever. As such, no matter what I think those who would hate Jews will always see me as one no matter what I think.
This song, as well as the hate of others (irony), made me realize I must accept who I am and be proud of my heritage even if I don’t plan to continue the Jewish practices. This song helps me solidify who I am as a person. It helped me know who I am and accept it. It helped me understand the meaning of the Term Never Again when referring to the Jewish People in particular with that second verse and come 2008/2009 when I decided to move to Israel to join the IDF this was one of the reasons I convinced myself to go.
The second of Matisyahu’s two songs that helped me decide to go to Israel was Warrior
With this song, the line in the chorus,
“You’re a warrior, Fighting for your soul”
spoke to me.
For I am a warrior, fighting for my soul. Lost and unhappy and looking for a purpose.
For I am the Lion, The Wolf, and the Fox, and I will fight for me because no one else will. Though I add the animal analogy as I write this, the three animals which I think embody UTKM, the rest was true at the time. I decided, yes I am a warrior. I don’t care if others look down at me, berate me, hate me, or deny my talents and potential. I will do it for me.
I even thought of my Grandfather who was a proud veteran of the Canadian Forces and a proud supporter of Israel. Outside of my Israeli Cousins, I would be the only of his children or grandchildren in North America closer to him that would continue the military tradition. I know he would have been proud of me, though unfortunately, he passed before my service, the memory of him and his dedication along with the song and what it means to be a warrior further pushed my decision to join the Military.
*Originally published Oct 26th 2019
Music a Tool to change mood: A Personal History – Part 3