Matisyahu, the Jewish American reggae and alternative rock musician, recently released a new song for Hanukkah. All proceeds of the song, appropriately titled “Happy Hanukkah,” are being donated to Hurricane Sandy relief efforts through the end of the holiday.
“I am from New York and wanted to give back to my incredible community in the wake of Hurricane Sandy,” said Matisyahu. Donations from the song will continue to benefit The Jewish Federations of North America and The Robin Hood Foundation until the end of Hanukkah on Dec. 16.
Matisyahu, 33, was born Matthew Paul Miller in West Chester, Penn. In 1995, Matisyahu took part in a two month-long program at the Alexander Muss High School in Hod Hasharon, Israel, a program which offers students first-hand exploration of Jewish heritage as a way of solidifying Jewish identity. His experiences there led to his decision to adopt Orthodox Judaism.
At the age of 19, he formally joined the Lubavitch movement and took a Hebrew form of his name, Matisyahu, which means “Gift of G-d.” The singer subsequently forged a public image of himself as a devout Chasid who performed in concert in full Chassidic garb.
In June 2012, Matisyahu appeared in an online video to promote his new single “Sunshine” with his hair dyed blonde and appeared to be without a yarmulka, causing a big stir within the Jewish blogosphere. He similarly made waves late last year when he shaved his beard
On Dec. 8, Matisyahu will kick off his sixth annual “Festival of Light” tour.