Matt Bar is a young rapper, but rather than sing about women or violence, he drops beats about Torah. “I am David/I come with the Lord/You come with the sword,” he raps, “I come with the Lord/And I’m righteous.” Bar has spent the last few years working to educate Jewish children and adolescents in a way that is expressive and relatable to a younger generation: with the art of rap.
Often concerned with the way Jewish youth are denied a creative, open-ended entry into Jewish textual learning, Bar believes that his program, Bible Raps, provides a “more poetic or theological or philosophical” approach.
Bible Raps has a CD, and its teacher toolkit has been used all around the country. Bar believes that helping students to create their own raps, in addition to enjoying the ones supplied to them, will encourage them to revisit the text over and over again, and gain a deeper understanding of the source material each time.
Bar is also excited about Bible Rap’s upcoming program, “Midrash yo! U.” The program, for sixth to 12th graders, will work closely with a small group of selected candidates in a series of workshops to help them create their own raps and then share them with others. There is also a new teachers’ training program in the works.
Bar, as a proud “right-brained” thinker, would like to make sure others like him have a clear path of learning. “We’re showing the electricity between Jewish text and American life,” he says of Bible Raps, “Or between Jewish text and cool.”
Coach Bar: Bar also likes basketball, and will coach a team at a Jewish Day School in Philadelphia next year.