Lipa Schmeltzer

Lipa Schmeltzer (Yiddish: אלעזר ליפא שמעלצערElazar Lipa Schmeltzer, Hebrew: ליפא שמלצר‎; born March 17, 1978) is an American singer, entertainer, and composer. He is a headliner in Hasidic as well as modern Jewish communities worldwide [2] and "the Lady Gaga[3] of Hasidic music".[4] As of 2020, Schmeltzer has released 17 solo albums.

Lipa Schmeltzer
Lipa Schmeltzer
Lipa Schmeltzer
Background information
Birth nameLazar Lipa Schmelczer[1]
Born (1978-03-17) March 17, 1978 (age 43)
New Square, New York, USA
GenresContemporary Jewish
Occupation(s)Vocalist, composer, singer, performer
Years active1998 – present
Lipa at a visit to the Kretshnif Rebbe of Kiryat Gat, Feb. 2019

Family backgroundEdit

Lipa Schmeltzer grew up in the Chasidic enclave of New Square, New York[5] a village in Rockland County, New York. His grandfather, a Chasidic farmer in pre-war Hungary, was murdered during World War II, leaving his father, Reuven, an orphan at the age of 13. Reuven Schmeltzer was one of the 1,684 Jews who escaped Nazi-controlled Hungary on the Kastner train and spent time in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp before being released in Switzerland.[6] He and his wife had 12 children, of whom Lipa is the second-youngest.[7]

Lipa married his wife, Miriam, also a native of New Square,[8] on August 27, 1998. They have four children.[6]

Musical careerEdit

After his wedding, Schmeltzer tried to find work as a badchen (entertainer) for weddings.[8] Though he had no formal musical training,[9] he began performing at weddings and bar mitzvahs in the Haredi Chasidic communities of upstate New York and Brooklyn. He earned a reputation as a natural performer, and began releasing recordings and videos.[5] The first, Nor B'Simcha (Just Be Happy), was released shortly after his wedding.[6] With his thick, round eyeglasses and sidelocks,[10] "outlandish" outfits, and comical YouTube videos,[11] he has rocketed to stardom in the Hasidic music world.

Schmeltzer's music has both gained popularity and generated controversy within the American Chasidic community due to the fusion of traditional Chasidic music and lyrics with contemporary music styles. His performance range includes "hard-driving rock tunes, jazzy shuffles, pseudo-rap numbers, solemn prayers, klezmer dances and jokey skits, accompanied by a nine-piece band and a troupe of actors".[5] He writes lyrics in English, Hebrew, and Yiddish.[6] Schmeltzer's concerts are not gender-segregated, as is the norm in Hasidic circles.[5]

He has been criticized for introducing "too modern" musical styles to the Hasidic community.[12] Opponents contend that Schmeltzer's identity as a bona fide Hasid makes him more appealing to a wider Hasidic audience and therefore more likely to introduce contemporary music to their community, which tends to be insular and more reserved.[13]

Benefit performancesEdit

Schmeltzer frequently contributes his talents for Jewish benefit performances.[14][15][16][17][18] He has also written songs and performed in response to tragedies within the Hasidic community. After Chabad shluchim Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg were murdered in a 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai and their two-year-old son Moishe was saved, he wrote the song A Letter to Moishe'le.[19] He was part of an all-star group of Jewish musicians who produced a musical tribute to Sholom Rubashkin after the latter's conviction in federal court in 2010.[20] Following the 2011 murder of Leiby Kletzky in Brooklyn, he released a ballad called "Leiby Forever" and a seven-minute music video depicting home movies of Kletzky growing up.[21]

"The Big Event" controversyEdit

In February 2008, a large amount of publicity was generated for a concert at Madison Square Garden's WaMu Theater in New York City featuring Schmeltzer and Shloime Gertner, under the playbill "The Big Event". On 20 February, a full-page notice was printed in the Hamodia, the most prominent Haredi newpaper. The notice stated that it was "a serious prohibition to attend or perform" at the concert which would lead to "ribaldry and lightheadedness" and added that it was "forbidden to hire these singers to sing at any party, celebration or charity event".[22][23]

Following speculation over whether Schmeltzer would cancel the concert due to the ban, on 26 February it was confirmed that he was canceling his performance. He was quoted by The New York Times as saying, "I have a career, I have a wife and kids to support, I have a mortgage to pay, I have to get out of the fire".[22] At the same time, Schmeltzer pulled out of a concert scheduled for later that month in London with other singers.[24]

In an interview in June 2008, Schmeltzer stated: "I made a Kiddush Hashem and I don’t regret it. But if I had known the truth about how things were presented to the gedolei hatorah, I would not have cancelled the concert."[25] Schmeltzer said that "Many gedolei hatorah have told me that people came to them with false information regarding my concert: they said it would have mixed dancing or mixed seating."[25]

In 2009, one of the most prestigious rabbis who signed the document, Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky, told The Jewish Star newspaper that he had no problem with Lipa: "As far as I know he is an ehrliche Yid [a truly devout Jew]."[5]

Three months after the controversy, Schmeltzer released his next album, titled A Poshiter Yid (A Simple Jew), with a cover image and songs that portrayed him as a tradition-minded, Torah-observant Jew instead of the rock idol portrayed by the ban. Since that release, Schmeltzer's concert and recording schedules have increased.[26]

Shortly after the cancellation of "The Big Event", promoters began planning another concert with the scaled-down name "The Event", which went off without controversy before a sell-out crowd[26] at Madison Square Garden's WaMu Theater on March 1, 2009.[11][27] Later the same year, Aderet Records released a double CD and DVD of "The Event".[28]

Other activitiesEdit

In 2010, Schmeltzer built a synagogue, Beis Medrash D'Airmont, in the village of Airmont, New York.[26][29]

Schmeltzer attended Rockland Community College, a two-year school which is part of the State University of New York (SUNY) system. He pursued a dual associate degree in performing arts and liberal arts. On May 18, 2014 he graduated with a GPA of 3.902.[30][31]

In April 2014 Schmeltzer received a Chancellor's Award of Excellence, which is considered to be "the highest honor bestowed upon the student body."[32][33]

In 2014, Schmeltzer was studying Creative Writing and Visual Art at Columbia University's School of General Studies.[34] Lipa graduated from Columbia University in May 2018 with a Bachelor of Arts degree Magna Cum Laude.[35] In December 2011, Schmeltzer sang at Mayor Michael Bloomberg's annual Hanukkah party at the Jewish Heritage Museum, accompanied by the Freilach Orchestra.[36]

In December 2015, Schmeltzer sang at the annual White House Hanukkah Party, and promised President Barack Obama a special gift, a gold and silver yarmulke.[37] In May 2016 Schmeltzer traveled to Washington, D.C. and delivered Obama the promised gift of a gold and silver yarmulke.[38]

In 2016, Schmeltzer appeared in an Israeli television ad for Pepsi Max.[39]

In December 2016, Schmeltzer sang "God Bless America" in Yiddish (as "Gott Bensch Amerike") in Brooklyn Borough Hall at the inauguration of New York Civil Court Judge Rachel Freier.[40]

In September 2017, Reuven Schmeltzer, Lipa's father, died and the Skverer Rebbe came to be menachem avel (to console the mourner) with him while Sitting Shivah.[41]



  1. ^ "Video: Elazar Lipa Schmeltzer at Wedding of Son of Rav Yekutiel Abuchatzeirah". 19 June 2009. Retrieved 24 March 2011.
  2. ^ Weichselbaum, Simone; Levin, Sam; Alpert, Lukas I. (16 July 2011). "Famed Hasidic singer Lipa Schmeltzer writing song to honor slain Brooklyn boy Leiby Kletzky". New York Daily News. Retrieved 20 July 2011.
  3. ^ Schmeltzer: Hasidic Lady Gaga, the Jewish Elvis |The Journal News
  4. ^ Weiner, Stuart (17 August 2012). "Hasidic pop star dons IDF togs". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 17 August 2012.
  5. ^ a b c d e Duffy, Peter (February 27, 2009). "Dancing and Shaking With an Exultant Spirit". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 17 January 2010.
  6. ^ a b c d Kliger, David. Bringing on the Simcha: An interview with Lipa Schmeltzer at Castel Wineries. The English Update, 17 March 2011, pp. 26–34.
  7. ^ "A Poshiter Yid". Retrieved 26 March 2011.
  8. ^ a b Rosengarten, Gittel Chany (17 July 2013). "Living With the Star". Mishpacha Family First. pp. 14–20. Retrieved 16 October 2013.
  9. ^ Lando, Michal (Jul 3, 2008). "The first haredi pop star". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 17 January 2010.[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ Lando, Michal (28 January 2007). "In the Wee Hours, Worship and More". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 March 2011.
  11. ^ a b Gersten, Lana (8 January 2009). "If at First You Don't Succeed... Hasidic Singer, Subject of Rabbinic Ban, Tries Again". The Forward. Retrieved 11 October 2014.
  12. ^ Edgework: Boundary crossing among the Hasidim (dissertation). The City University of New York. 2006. p. 68.
  13. ^ Gersten, Lana (1 July 2008). "Despite Controversy, Hasidic Singer's Popularity Soars". The Forward. Retrieved 17 January 2010.
  14. ^ "Lipa Schmeltzer Singing Ani Maamin At Circus For Chai Lifeline". Jewish Music Plus. 24 May 2009. Retrieved 24 March 2011.
  15. ^ Zweig, Yossi (2009). "OHEL 5770 "Musical Inspirations" – Review". The Jewish Insights. Retrieved 24 March 2011.
  16. ^ "This Year's Soul II Soul Starring Lipa Schmeltzer". The Jewish Music Review. 15 November 2008. Retrieved 24 March 2011.
  17. ^ "Lipa Schmeltzer, Chaim Fogelman and Agent Emes". 20 June 2006. Retrieved 24 March 2011.
  18. ^ "Lipa, Disney, and Lulav and Etrog". Jewish Press. 19 August 2009. Retrieved 24 March 2011.
  19. ^ Ferber, Elisha (18 November 2009). "Video: "A Letter to Moishe'le"". Retrieved 24 March 2011.
  20. ^ "MBD, Avraham Fried and Large Cast of Singers Unite for Reb Sholom Mordechai". 11 August 2010. Retrieved 24 March 2011.
  21. ^ Weichselbaum, Simone (15 August 2011). "'Leiby Forever' song helped me cope with son's death, Nachman Kletzky says". New York Daily News. Retrieved 16 August 2011.
  22. ^ a b Levin, Dan (3 March 2008). "A Clash Between Popular Culture and Orthodox Piety". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 October 2014.
  23. ^ "Original ban notice" (in Hebrew).
  24. ^ "Lipa Shmeltzer Backs Out Of London Concert". Vosizneias. 26 February 2008. Retrieved 24 March 2011.
  25. ^ a b "New York - A Kiddush Hashem? A Chilul Hashem! Lipa In Flammatory Interview: "My Mistake To Cancel BIGEVENT Concert"". Vos Iz Nieas. 6 June 2008. Retrieved 19 January 2010.
  26. ^ a b c Ginzberg, Binyomin (21 March 2011). "Monday Music: A Simple Jew With a Touch of Gaga". The Forward. Retrieved 26 March 2011.
  27. ^ Aron, Suri (4 March 2009). "Lipa Schmeltzer's Big Event a Big Success". The Jewish Press. Archived from the original on 11 October 2014. Retrieved 11 October 2014.
  28. ^ Ferber, Elisha (31 July 2009). ""The Event" to be Released on CD and DVD". Retrieved 24 March 2011.
  29. ^ "Rockland County, NY - Village Of Airmont Gives Lipa's Shul Stamp of Approval". Voz Iz Neias. 26 March 2010. Retrieved 26 March 2011.
  30. ^ "". Archived from the original on 2014-05-23. Retrieved 23 May 2014.
  31. ^ "Stardom 101: Lipa Goes To College". Retrieved 9 January 2013.
  32. ^ "Insider - Buffalo State College - SUNY's Highest Student Honor Awarded". Archived from the original on June 10, 2012. Retrieved Jul 10, 2019.
  33. ^ " Lipa Schmeltzer". Retrieved 18 May 2014.
  34. ^ " "Lipa Schmeltzer, a GS student and father of four"". Retrieved 22 January 2015.
  35. ^ gifterphotos (Photo & Video Journalist) (14 May 2018). Lipa Schmeltzer Graduates With Honors (YouTube video). New York, New York (published 16 May 2018). Retrieved 30 September 2020.
  36. ^ "Lipa Schmeltzer Performs At Mayor Bloomberg's Chanukah Party". Yeshiva World News. 22 December 2011.
  37. ^ "White House Hanukkah: President Obama and the Self-Proclaimed 'Jewish Lady Gaga' Share a Moment". Tablet Magazine. Dec 11, 2015. Retrieved Jul 10, 2019.
  38. ^ "Fulfilling a Promise to President Obama: A Gold and Silver Yarmulke". Tablet Magazine. May 18, 2016. Retrieved Jul 10, 2019.
  39. ^ "Lipa Schmeltzer dances his way into an Israeli ad - Israel News - Jerusalem Post". Retrieved Jul 10, 2019.
  40. ^ Ghert-Zand, Renee (22 December 2016). "First Hasidic woman judge sworn in with Yiddish song". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
  41. ^ "The Skver Rebbe Is Menachem Avel The Schmeltzer Family". Yeshiva World News. 20 September 2017. Archived from the original on 15 December 2018. Retrieved 30 September 2020.
  42. ^ Official - Lipa Schmeltzer "Heal us" (YouTube)

External linksEdit