Matthew Bar

He articulated my personal beliefs about Judaism and God.

Bible Raps
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
A Jewish Perspective

How did you first encounter Abraham Joshua Heschel’s work?
I started getting interested in Jewish thought after trip to Israel on Livnot Birthright. Heschel’s Man In Search of God and other works were suggested. I was a philosophy major and his thought was attractive in that regard and how well he articulated my personal beliefs about Judaism and God. Reading Heschel validated my initial interest in Jewish thought and led me to understand that Judaism is where it’s at for me. While I grew up Jewish in Iowa city, Iowa, I never really delved deep into Jewish thought until Heschel. In doing so I said to myself "Wow, I am really am Jewish!"

How did Heschel influence your life, thinking, and/or work? What of Heschel lives in you?
His philosophy of Judaism in Man’s Quest for God and The Prophets, along with his lectures from 1968 and 1970, were essential for the development of my Jewish identity. His partnership with MLK was also important because I spend so much time with Black people as a hip hop artist. I use Heschel to contextualize my magnum opus with samples from his lectures on my album Best Bible Rapper Alive.

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