Matisyahu Takes on Antisemitism in New Video – Kveller
Skip to Content Skip to Footer


Matisyahu Takes on Antisemitism in New Video

The video for his latest single, "Ascent," was filmed in Israel and features survivors of the October 7 attack.


via YouTube

Last week, Jewish reggae star Matisyahu released a new video for his song “Ascent.”

Matisyahu, who has had several concerts canceled after protesters targeted them for his support for Israel, filmed the video while he was in Israel this past January.

In the video, Matisyahu is flanked by survivors of the Nova festival holding yahrzeit candles, with the words “we will dance again” in the background. We also see him at the site of the music festival, walking around an installation of pictures of the victims, and at the site of the destroyed kibbutzim attacked that day. We also see him performing the song live on stage with the families of kidnapped Israelis in the background. Matisyahu performed several concerts during his visit, including a sold-out show with Israeli Eurovision champion Netta.

“Ascent” takes its title from the biblical Psalms of Ascents, or “Shir Ha’Ma’alot,” which Matisyahu also recites at the end of the song. It was actually written before October 7, in response to both Kanye West’s antisemitic rhetoric and the rise of antisemitism around the world.

Along with the shots from Matisyahu’s visit to Israel, the video incorporates footage from October 7, including videos of hostage Shiri Bibas and her children being captured and Iron Dome interceptions, as well as archival footage from the Jewish state, images from “Fiddler on the Roof” and footage from Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. Some of the videos are played in reverse.

“I think it is some of my most meaningful work ever,” Matisyahu wrote of the song on his social media.
“You’re still captive to the poison that’s around you / infected brain no one to blame but the Jew,” he raps in the song. “Are you insane / this is not new / they’ve been saying this for years / cry babies with their tears.” The song mentions both Israel, the Holocaust and the Passover story.

“Our star shines brighter than a swastika,” he sings, “and our candle still flickers.”

The formerly Hasidic singer recently wrapped his North American tour with a festive Purim performance in Brooklyn. Three of the tour’s over 30 concerts were canceled — in Chicago, Tucson and Santa Fe. After visiting Israel, he decided to have a yellow chair to represent the hostages at every concert, and to sing “Ascent” at every stop of his tour. His son Laivy, who lives in Israel and attends a yeshiva there, joined him during his tour.

Matisyahu is currently back in Israel to accept an award from the Diaspora Affairs Ministry and to perform two concerts, one in Jerusalem and one in Tel Aviv. His son will open both concerts, and they will feature Israeli rappers like Jimbo J. Being back in Israel, he told the Times of Israel, “feels like the completion of a cycle… I felt welcomed and at home.”

Skip to Banner / Top Skip to Content