Jewish Hip-Hopper Hops Away From Judaism
50 Shekel surprises Jewish fans with his announcement about his newfound faith--in Jesus.
BY: Alana B. Elias Kornfeld
Jewish parody rap star 50 Shekel, who was once billed as "The World's Most Kosher MC," recently shocked the Jewish world with an announcement on his website: he's accepted Jesus as the messiah.
50 Shekel, whose real name is Aviad Cohen, 30, made a name for himself with his hit "In da Shul," his spoof on gangster rapper 50 Cent's single "In da Club." Cohen gained popularity with gigs around New York in 2003. At the time,he told Beliefnet
he wanted to rap about Judaism. "'In da Club' inspired me to do something with rap," he said. "50 Cent talks about what he knows. I choose to talk about what I know."
Raised an observant Jew in Israel and Brooklyn, Cohen told Beliefnet in 2003 that he was in the process of becoming closer to the Torah and orthodoxy. "Judaism is what made me--all the values and ethics that the Torah teaches," he said. "That's something that's been evident in my life.
But he has now chosen to lead a Messianic Jewish lifestyle.
Messianic Jews, like Christians, believe that Jesus (or as they refer to him, Y'Shua) was the expected Messiah. Though they claim to be following the true Judaism, mainstream Jews are nearly unanimous in rejecting the idea that Messianic Jews are Jewish, and many believe them to be Christians intentionally targeting Jews for conversion.
Cohen says his change of heart was divinely inspired.
"This random morning I woke up to pastors speaking on the radio, and they were speaking about Old Testament stuff," says Cohen. "I didn't set my alarm, I didn't set it to that station."
This experience, Cohen believes, was a sign from God that he should have enough "matzoh balls" to explore Christianity.
After that, Cohen watched Mel Gibson's movie, "The Passion of the Christ," and immediately became fascinated with Jesus. It was then, he says, that he "came to faith." "After seeing 'The Passion,' my mouth was wide open for about 20 minutes straight," Cohen says on his website. "I was shocked... Jesus was the messiah! Messiah is moshiach The Anointed One that we've all been waiting for. This movie is not anti-Semitic. I have just fallen in love with God."
Cohen, who has been practicing Messianic Judaism for about 10 months but just let fans know about his new faith several weeks ago, believes accepting "Jesus into his heart" makes him a "true Jew."
"A lot of people are stuck in [Microsoft] Windows 98," he says. "The New Testament is Windows XP. It's 2005. I have no interest in Windows 98. I upgraded. This is where we're supposed to be right now. I am a true Jew on course."