You Need to Hear Matisyahu Beatbox 'Hava Nagila' – Kveller
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You Need to Hear Matisyahu Beatbox ‘Hava Nagila’

He just happens to be jamming with Oscar the Grouch's Israeli cousin, Moishe Oofnik.

“Mixtape” World Premiere

Via Arturo Holmes/Getty Images

In 2010, Jewish singer and rapper Matisyahu came to perform in Israel. As part of that visit, he met a pretty amazing Israeli icon — no, it wasn’t a politician or another musician, but the most grouchy resident of Israel’s “Rechov Sumsum” (“Sesame Street”), the one and only Moishe Oofnik.

In a scene filmed for “Shalom Sesame,” Oofnik, the brown-furred Israeli cousin of Oscar the Grouch, is just chilling in his humble trashcan abode (a very familiar, municipal green Israeli receptacle) when he hears a disturbing loud and melodic sound. It’s Matisyahu beatboxing, of course (and he even drums on Oofnik’s house! Rude!). When Oofnik questions him about the annoying noise, Matisyahu explains, “I was just walking by and making some music with my mouth.”

“I’ll just be on my way,” he says, before Oofnik tells him he’s actually beginning to like the sound, so Matisyahu gives him an impromptu beatboxing workshop. And then, in a scene that deserves to go down in history, the two improvise a beatboxing “Hava Nagila.” Oofnik is at first reticent to sing such a joyful song, but Matisyahu reminds him that “every day is a celebration.”

The two give a rousing rendition of the classic Hebrew song, composed and written in the 1910s with Hebrew lyrics derived from the Book of Psalms.

“Cool man, you’ve got some skills,” the beatboxer and musician, who grew up in White Plains, New York, tells Oofnik, before bidding him farewell to go to a concert. “It was great. By the way, I’m Matisyahu,” he tells the puppet as he rushes off.

“Mayisya-who? I’ve never heard of him,” Oofnik muses, before realizing there’s a poster for the artist’s upcoming concert right above his home.

While Matisyahu is not Israeli himself, his relationship with Israel has often been the source of flack for the musician. In 2015, he was kicked out of the lineup of the Rototom Sunsplash Festival in Spain when he refused to release a statement on his feelings about Zionism and Palestinian statehood (he was the only performer at the reggae festival asked to do so). Most recently, he had two shows cancelled, in both Santa Fe, New Mexico and Tuscon, Arizona, due to security concerns stemming from the angry backlash for his support of Israel. The singer visited and performed in the country back in January, and has been outspoken about the fact that he believes in Israel’s right to exist and defend itself.

The artist decried the cancelations in two Instagram posts. “I do not have the answers to a centuries-old conflict, nor want another person to die or have their life torn apart; Israeli or Palestinian,” he wrote in one, reminding fans that his song, “One Day,” calls for peace and dreams of a future in which “there’ll be no more wars, and our children will play.” He also re-iterated that he believes if Hamas is not defeated, “they will not stop until every Jewish person is murdered.”

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