Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Jeremy Piven's EnTORAHge Bar Mitzvah

JEREMY PIVEN, MOST FAMOUS for his role on the award-winning series “Entourage,” doesn't often talk openly about his Jewish faith. In an episode of Entourage, Piven's character Ari Gold famously donned a tallit at his daughter's bat mitzvah. In the 7th season of the show Piven appeared with rocker Lenny Kravitz at his niece's bat mitzvah. But, in real life the actor admitted last week to an interviewer that it was difficult for him to learn Hebrew as a young boy and that he had to resort to rap for help ahead of his bar mitzvah.

Speaking to Jonathan Ross on a British talk show, Piven described himself as “Jew-ish” and said he was a terrible bar mitzvah boy. "It was hard for me to learn Hebrew. I actually had to rap my haftorah portion.” The actor then launched into a short rap, putting his Hebrew skills on display.

Jeremy Piven and Lenny Kravitz with a Tallit (Jewish)Ross was impressed and even suggested that Piven use rap to help other boys through the bar mitzvah process. Piven quickly retorted, "Yes! We’ll get Justin Bieber and circumcise him."

Piven might have been the first bar mitzvah boy to rap his bar mitzvah portion, but he certainly wasn't the only one. A few months ago, I watched a video of a 13-year-old boy with a sever stutter rap on stage at a #140conf conference. What was amazing was that the teen, Lil Jaxe didn't stutter when he rapped, only when he spoke. The video was amazing and inspirational.

I had the opportunity to meet Lil Jaxe this past summer at the #140edu conference at the 92nd St. Y in New York. Lil Jaxe told me that he rapped his bar mitzvah rather than chanting it. Here's a video of our discussion which includes him rapping the Jewish prayer Adon Olam, just as he did in April 2012 at his bar mitzvah.

I'd love to see Lil Jaxe get together with Jeremy Piven and rap a Haftorah!

Rabbi Jason Miller, the co-founder of the blog, is an educator, entrepreneur and blogger. He owns Access Computer Technology in Detroit, Michigan and is a highly sought after speaker on the intersection of technology and Judaism. Follow him on Twitter at @RabbiJason.