Jerusalem: Start Up City Since Avraham Avinu

Matt Bar
July 12, 2012
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This Month’s Shma Journal focuses on how ‘place’ informs our Jewish Identity. Elan Ezrachi’s article magnifies this lens on Jerusalem and the city’s relatively recent cultural revival of the past 100 years.  After analysis, Ezrachi concludes most innovators utilize Jerusalem for their start-up city then often move elsewhere.  “More than 100 years since the founding of Bezalel, Jerusalem is positioning itself as the “start-up” cultural phenomenon: Ki MiZion Tetzei Torah — From Zion comes Torah.”

Well Elan has Bible Raps nailed. Launched from Presentense’s Jerusalem cohort in 2007, and furthered by Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in 2008, Bible Raps found its pedagogic and entrepreneurial footing in the City of David. Indeed our people have been drawn to the city to initiate start-ups, since the O.G. of this here innovator sector, Avraham Avinu came through with his ‘Lech Lecha’ project.  In the song below, I speak to how I am following in his footsteps both in his inspired relationship to ‘Canaan’ and to his difficult relationship to his father.

Left My Daddy’s Home

Chorus: (Gen 12:1…) Left my country and I left my hometown
made aliyah but sometimes i’m so down
trying to be your blessing but i’m plagued by my own doubt
the hardest thing I ever did was to leave my Dad’s house

my soul was wandering my mind was racin’
i’d lose them both if I didn’t chase them
Lech l’cha Va’avracha (Gen 12:3)

Verse 1:
I’m just trying to live up
to my daddy’s name and his name is “I won’t give up”
you stood tall, in your wheel-chair
feeding tube feeding you all knew it wasn’t fair

you were my idol, coolest pops it was your title
like a white Bill Cosby you taught me what I know
but there was something missin’ when I listened to my flow
trapped in my lung, or tacked to my tongue

and i looked for the language for my song to be sung
from the New York Times, to the Hollywood sign
I spoke what I heard, but the words weren’t mine.
Til I hip-hopped a plane and came to Mt. Zion,

Bible Raps, who’d a thought that i’d be on that?
Not sure where i’m aiming but I know its beyond rap
and this the voice of my heart cause i’m writing with my blood
And my daddy’s love, from above.


Verse 2:
Daddy I remember when your idols gave me splinters,
you said the gods were angry to be handled by beginners
but then you winked and said that they were jealous of the winners
(Gen 11:31) this is temporary work we’d leave for Caanan after winter (Gen 11:31)

I think you always knew that the idols were see through
but then you got confused as to what else to see to…
I see you making gods as the candle melts
I wake up in morning 40 idols on the mantle shelf

stone ones, jade, bronze and even rubies too
each god displayed: another one to see thru
at last you made, an idol shinin
like imprisoned lightning it was made of diamond

your look was surprising your eyes were crying,
your knife was rising you looked it in the eyes and
said “Here I am stop me if you can!”
(Gen 22:11) on top Mt. Moriah I think I finally understand (Gen 22:11).

To hear the song go to or BUY OUR NEW ALBUM at!!!

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Matt Bar is founder and Executive Director of Bible Raps, a non-profit born from Matt's desire to engage his Hebrew School classes on a deeper and more contemporary level than the way they were being taught at the time. Bible Raps launched out of Bar's participation in the PresenTense Institute during the summer of 2007. He continued to further his Jewish education during his 2008 year of study at The Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem. 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. Their teaching materials are being used in countless classrooms and teachers are currently being trained to be certified "Bible Raps educators". ‬ ‪In 2011, Bar was also named to The ‬NY‪ Jewish Week's "36 Under 36" list, a prestigious list ‬"highlighting the dedicated lay leaders who are reordering our legacy organizations alongside community activists and social justice crusaders whose startups are chock-full of innovation,". He is also 2009-2010 member of slingshot. Before his current role as Executive Director of Bible Raps, Bar was also featured on MTV and NBC, has opened for Grammy winning group Outkast and performed at numerous clubs and venues as a folk rapper. Matt currently resides in Philadelphia and is working on Bible Raps Album #3 and hoping to put out Hip Hop Lullabies, within the calendar year.

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