Have a look at “Hip Hop Hassid”, a new submission to ÉCU 2013.

Hip Hop Hassid is the story of Shneur Hasofer, a 28-year-old Hassidic Jew and hip-hop producer from Crown Heights, a neighborhood normally populated with African-American rappers.

Born and raised in a Chabad Hassidic family in Austraila, Shneur moved to Israel at the age of 14, escaping from his family and religion and living a secular lifestyle, searching for his own identity.

Shneur made it his mission to experience every lifestyle he could, from street life to the high life. He joined the Israeli Defense Force at 17, where he served as a combat sharpshooter for three years at the height of the Entifada.

While serving in the military, he experienced intense action on a daily basis, and quickly learned to detest violence. He soon developed a strong interest in growing closer to God, and began developing a spiritual disposition.

After being discharged, he moved to Brooklyn to study the Torah with elders at a Yeshiva in Sea Gate. There he learned to be observant and respectful of all Orthodox boundaries and practices.

While studying the books of Moses by day, Shneur used his free time writing lyrics with a redeeming message of struggle and redemption, and discovered that hip-hop music was the perfect vehicle for expressing himself.

Shneur settled down in Crown Heights, a neighborhood infamous for a major riot in 1991 between the African-American and Orthodox Jewish communities. The social tension has since decreased, but is still perceptible in obvious prejudices evidenced by both sides.

Living in Brooklyn, Shneur started a partnership with local African-American musicians, and rechristened himself with the rapper name Describe. He began introducing his unique sound to the masses at area nightclubs, exposing himself to both potential prejudice as well as strict critiques from the community.

Hip Hop Hassid retraces the life of a controversial character, interviewing people inside and outside his community about the actual potential of his success in embracing people of all races, both in the microcosm of Brooklyn, as well as globally.

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