Aviad Cohen–you may know him as 50 Shekel, though then again, you probably don’t know of him at all–has found a new way to get the word out about his latest passions. He’s started a blog called Scripture & Sushi, in which he rhapsodizes about–you guessed it–the Bible and raw fish.
Cohen had a brief moment of fame, at least in the Jewish world, when, performing under the name 50 Shekel, he produced Jewish hip-hop music that both parodied Jewish culture and expressed pride in his heritage. His second, even briefer, moment in the spotlight was last year, when he announced he’d become a Messianic Jew (or, as we sticklers for accuracy like to call it, a Christian), who continues identifying with Jews and Judaism, with the added belief in Jesus as the messiah. You can guess which Scripture he’s writing about in his blog; let’s just say it includes the books we don’t read in shul.
In the spirit of spreading his new messianic zeal, Cohen sparked a bit of a brouhaha in the Jewish blogosphere last month with comments about the latest Jewish musician to grab the pop-culture spotlight, Matisyahu, the Hasidic reggae artist. First, some background: Matisyahu’s brand of Hasidic Judaism is called Chabad (also known as Lubavitcher), and some very-vocal members of this group believe that the group’s now-deceased leader will return from the dead as the mashiach, or messiah.
If that last part sounds a bit–or more than a bit–Christian, you’re not alone; many Jews have said the same thing. The artist formerly known as 50 Shekel has grabbed onto that bit of belief to argue, in an interview with The Canonist blog, that he, the Messianic Jew, and Matisyahu, the Chabad Jew, are not all that different (though Matisyahu has never, as far as I know, stated publicly his personal thoughts on the messianism issue). “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with saying, ‘Long live the King Messiah,’ it’s just the Chabad messiah or the Lubavitch messiah that’s the problem,” Cohen said. “I just hope he [Matisyahu] opens his eyes and ears to truth… I didn’t find it in rabbinic Judaism, I found it in the scriptures.” And, of course, in Jesus.
Cohen added that, since Matisyahu performed together with the Christian band P.O.D., the Hasidic reggae star has been adequately witnessed to–and now, presumably, just needs to think it through and come to the decision that seems obvious to Cohen. If not, maybe Cohen can take Matisyahu out for some kosher sushi and discuss the matter.