Hasidic Jewish rapper Matisyahu (who filmed a music video in front of my old apartment building one time–true story!) has shaved off his beard. While that doesn’t seem like a big deal on the surface, it could mean something much more significant.
Matis famously grew up in a non-religious Jewish family and became a baal teshuva, the Hebrew term for someone who adopts Orthodox Judaism voluntarily as an adult. As he grew famous, he stayed true to his identity, refusing to perform on Shabbat and requesting a portable sukkah during Sukkot. The shaving of his beard might symbolize what the Jewish world has whispered about for some time now–that Matis isn’t as religious as he used to be, and that he might be leaving Orthodoxy. This picture, which he posted on Twitter, certainly bears little resemblance to the bearded, kippah-wearing version of himself we knew a few years ago.
On another note, it sounds like the beard isn’t the only change Matis has made to his appearance. An employee at Lower East Side eyewear shop Sol Moscot says that Matis has been removed from the store’s list of famous customers “because he got Lasik.”
Update: Okay, this virtual “Pin the beard back on Matisyahu” game is so funny it deserved a mention.