Amir Hadad writes for Haaretz.com about the transformation of Matisyahu Miller into the first ultra-Orthodox reggae singer :
“I was 16, I looked like a hippie, I wasn’t into Judaism. I was into music, reggae, Bob Marley, girls. My parents wanted me to travel. They signed me up for this three-month program and paid for it, and that’s how I got to the Alexander Muss High School in Hod Hasharon. The way it worked there was that in the morning you learn about Judaism, about Israel, and in the evening they switched to more general topics and the rest of the time they take you on all kinds of little trips within Israel, to a different place each time, so you’ll feel Israel. It wasn’t something religious. It was more about connecting to your Jewish roots, getting to know Israel a little.
“After a few weeks,” continues the man formerly known as Matthew Miller, “they took us to Mount Scopus to look at the view of Jerusalem. The people who take you there know very well why they’re doing it. It has a big effect on a person to go up to this place, to overlook Jerusalem from above. It sounds a little corny, I know, but it totally does the job. You stand up there, overlooking this incredible city, and you sing `Jerusalem of Gold’ and something big moves in your heart. It was the first time that I felt my soul, that I really felt it. I felt God.”
Thus began the transformation of a non-religious Jewish boy from a wealthy New York suburb to the world’s first and most successful ultra-Orthodox reggae singer, known today as Matisyahu Miller”