Hip Hop and Judaism: Comparing Oral Traditions

What does hip-hop and Talmud have in common? Matt Bar uses hip-hop as a lens to understand Jewish oral tradition, demonstrating that each function as one is a type of education and tradition, calling on voices of the past to discuss issues in the present. Bar believes that the Jewish oral tradition is alive and well, and that rap and hip-hop are an important way to engage young people in ancient Talmudic debates.

Matt Bar is founder and Executive Director of Bible Raps. Inspired by Torah learning while on a Livnot trip to Israel in 2006, Bar launched Bible Raps via his participation in the PresenTense Institute during the summer of 2007. He continued to further his Jewish education at The Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem in 2008. Since its inception, Bible Raps has reached tens of thousands of young Jews with Torah-rich performances in schools, Hillels, conferences and camps across the US and abroad. In 2011, Bar was also named to The NY Jewish Week’s “36 Under 36″ list, and is currently a featured Joshua Venture Fellow.

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