JVN’s Volunteering Perspectives – Matisyahu

Matisyahu - before shaving his beard

We went to a fantastic conference last week with our (new) friends at the European Association of Jewish Community Centres on Jewish volunteering.  But, as we’re sure you’ve noticed Matisyahu has been the topic of hot conversation this week about his decision to shave off his beard (so more about Europe next week!). What’s clear is that with or without his beard, he’s renowned for his commitment to the community.  And although he didn’t rap this for us, here’s Matisyahu with a lovely piece he wrote us for our biennial Volunteering Awards about volunteering with his Dad in New York as a kid. Enjoy!

I got involved in volunteering inNew Yorkwhen I was younger through my father. He was in charge of the homeless housing agency at our synagogue and as a kid I would go along and work on the projects he was running. One thing we did when I was in middle and high school were these ‘midnight runs’. A bunch of us would collect anything we could get – food, toiletries, any clothes, socks, hats, coats – and meet around 10pm down at the synagogue. We would cook up some soup or anything else that was quick in the kitchen and then throw it all in a van before heading out.

We would drive in the middle of the night down to these stops, maybe 10-15 of them all over the city where homeless people would congregate, and gradually over the course of the night we would give out all the food and clothes we had collected. I just remember getting such unbelievable satisfaction from helping others.  To me, the person who volunteers gains so much not only from the feeling of doing good, but they gain a much more spiritual and emotional strength. I always knew that when the night ended I was a better person for it.

Volunteering is food for the soul.  So many people nowadays are obsessed with finding deep complex ways of developing themselves and trying to promote what they have achieved through massive projects, but there are just so many more simple methods of doing something good. The important thing is to just get involved. It doesn’t matter what it is, just get out there and you can make a difference.  

Known for blending traditional Jewish themes with reggae, rock and hip hop sounds, Matisyahu is recognisable for being a leading Jew in the global music industry. His latest record – Miracle – is including guest vocals by rapper Shyne is exclusively at iTunes and www.matisyahuworld.com



Categories: Volunteering Perspectives


Hi, I'm Mike, JVN's Youth Co-ordinator and blogger. I'll be blogging about all sorts of issues affecting the volunteering community, with a particular focus on how recent developments might affect the UK Jewish community's volunteers. I'm always interested to read the comments you make. If you have something you want to see in the JVN blog, e-mail me at mike@jvn.org.uk and I'll be happy to talk. And if you're inspired by any of my blogs to volunteer, log on to www.jvn.org.uk and register to find your perfect volunteering opportunity.


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  1. Matisyahu’s choice: Much Ado About A Beard! « Human Body Engineer - December 15, 2011

    […] JVN’s Volunteering Perspectives – Matisyahu (jvnblog.com) […]

  2. Vive L’Alliance – Going into 2012 with a European spirit | The Jewish Volunteering Network Blog - January 5, 2012

    […] to the European Association of Jewish Community Centres conference on Volunteering in Brussels, but Matisyahu’s beard rather grabbed headlines that […]

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