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Hasidic pop star dons IDF togs

Lipa Schmeltzer prances in the streets of Jerusalem to the tune of his latest song, which he dedicated to religious soldiers

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Lipa Schmeltzer (screen capture: Youtube)
Lipa Schmeltzer (screen capture: Youtube)

An ultra-Orthodox musician has made an unorthodox music video in which he trades his traditional black garb for an IDF uniform.

Lipa Schmeltzer, described by some as the Lady Gaga of Hasidic music, shot scenes for his latest music video in the heart of Jerusalem’s ultra-Orthodox district while dancing wearing an IDF uniform.

The video is to accompany Schmeltzer’s song “Mizrah-Maarav” (East-West), which has gained popularity at Haredi events due to its accompanying dance moves.

The video was reportedly a response to a heated debate in Israeli society over the drafting of the ultra-Orthodox into the army. While Israel requires army service from all Jewish 18-year-olds, most ultra-Orthodox get exemptions.

Many in Israel have called for the ultra-Orthodox to enlist in the army, though most in the community are opposed to the idea. The army and Knesset are both working on new legislation that will likely include some provision for drafting Haredi soldiers.

Schmeltzer, who lives in Brooklyn, decided to film a video clip for the song that would pay tribute to the Nahal Haredi army unit, which consists of of ultra-Orthodox soldiers.

The 34-year-old Schmeltzer arrived at Zion Square in Jerusalem earlier this week accompanied by hordes of former Nahal Haredi soldiers and then danced his jig for the cameras, dressed in an IDF uniform. The filming has reportedly provoked debate in ultra-Orthodox circles, where affiliation to the IDF is often considered taboo and donning an IDF uniform sacrilege.

The final video clip is due to be released in two weeks after final editing, Maariv reported.

Schmeltzer is known for his sometimes-outlandish videos, such as one for his song “Hang up the phone.”

While Schmeltzer is one of the ultra-Orthodox world’s biggest stars, rabbis have in the past denounced him for “ribaldry.”

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