Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock.com
  • Faith: Judaism
  • Career: Musician
  • Birthday:  June 30, 1979

Matthew Paul Miller, known by his stage name Matisyahu, is a rapper, beatboxer, reggae, and alternative rock musician. Known for mixing spiritual themes with rock, reggae, and hip-hop beatboxing sounds, Matisyahu’s 2005 single “King Without a Crown” was a Top 40 hit in the U.S. Since then, he’s released seven studio albums and five live albums, two remix CDs, and two DVDs featuring live concerts.

What religion is Matisyahu?

Matisyahu has worked with Bill Laswell and reggae producers Sly & Robbie and Kool Kojak throughout his career. He’s also appeared as an actor in films. Matisyahu was born in 1979 in West Chester, Pennsylvania, although his family eventually settled in White Plains, New York. He was brought up as a Reconstructionist Jew and attended Hebrew school at Bet Am Shalom, a synagogue in White Plains. He spent most of his childhood learning the tenets of Judaism, but by the time he was a teenager, Miller started rebelling against his upbringing.

He started taking drugs and eventually dropped out of White Plains Senior High School. He became a self-proclaimed “Phish-head,” taking hallucinogens and following the rock band Phish on tour. In 1995, he attended a two-month program at the Alexander Muss High School in Hod Hasharon, Israel. The program offers students a firsthand exploration of Jewish heritage to solidify Jewish identity. After finishing Muss, he returned to New York, where he left high school on the first day of his senior year to travel throughout the United States, followed by a stint in a rehab center in upstate New York.

Then, Miller attended a wilderness expedition trip in Oregon for teenagers. He explained to a journalist of The Jewish Daily Forward, “It was not necessarily for drug rehabilitation, but that was part of the reason I was out there.” He finished high school at a wilderness program in Bend, Oregon. In Oregon, he identified himself as “Matt, the Jewish rapper kid from New York.” Miller has contrasted his time in Oregon to his life in New York City. He said, “I was suddenly the token Jew. This was now my search for my own identity, and part of Judaism feeling more important and relevant to me.”

Miller returned to New York and started developing his reggae, spending hours in his room, writing and practicing his style to accompany hip-hop tapes. He recounts that simultaneously, he started praying, getting himself a prayer book and prayer shawl. He learned of the Orthodox Jewish Carlebach Shul synagogue on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in New York. He started attending religious services every Sabbath and wearing a yarmulke (head covering) and tzitzit (a fringed undergarment).

Back to the Celebrity Faith Database

The Celeb-O-Matic knows! Find out which celebrity your beliefs match up to.

take the quiz now ›
Close Ad