Lipa Schmeltzer has a smile so infectious, and a fervor for Judaism so passionate, that it’s taken him all the way to the White House. Schmeltzer, “The Jewish Lady Gaga,” as he’s come to be known, has a penchant for newsmaking—serenading the Obama’s with “Maoz Tzur” at the White House Hannukah party, causing an uproar within New York’s Orthodox community for his near-participation in a concert known as “The Big Event,” and now, a new take on an Israeli classic.
Written in 1982 in response to the ongoing war in Lebanon, “Ein Li Eretz Acheret” (I Have No Other Land) was a love letter to Israel that doubled as a protest of a country that had “changed its face,” as the lyrics go. The song has been claimed as an anthem by Jewish groups with a variety of different goals, but it remains transcendentally popular in Israel. Though lyricist Ehud Manor passed away in 2005, the song’s composer, Israeli musician Corinne Allal, continues to release music.
Allal, who came out as gay in 2001 and actively crusades for LGBT rights in Israel, met up with Schmeltzer this week in New York as part of an ongoing initiative between the Gesher Leadership Institute and Israel’s Ministry of Diaspora Affairs, JTA reported. The two gave a performance of “Ein Li Eretz Acheret” that featured Schmeltzer singing in Hebrew, Yiddish, and English. It brought Allal to tears. You can watch below, but as a word of caution, a box of tissues at the ready might not be a bad idea.
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Jesse Bernstein is a former Intern at Tablet.