Video: Lipa’s Search for Moshe Yossi


lipa-and-son[Video below.] New York – On the cusp of the bar mitzvah of his oldest child, singer Lipa Schmeltzer takes an emotional journey back through time, as he seeks to continue the legacy of the grandfather he never knew through the son who carries his name, in a documentary titled “Searching for Moshe Yossi.”

The second to youngest of twelve, Lipa was the first member of his family to name a child Moshe Yosef after his grandfather.

“A lot of my family didn’t use the name Moshe Yosef because they wanted to name their sons Yaakov Yosef after the previous Skverer Rebbe,” explained Lipa. “But family begins at home and while my father may not have ever said anything about it, I wanted to name a son for his father.”

In an effort to give his son Moshe Yossi a glimpse into his roots, Lipa planned a pre-Bar Mitzvah trip to Budapest so that his son could have the opportunity to put on tefillin for the first time at the grave of the great-grandfather whose name he carries.

“I wanted my father to come with us,” said Lipa. “I wanted him to have a chance to say kaddish for his father but he refused. He said Hungary is finished, finished, and he was never going back.”

Lipa’s father, R’ Reuven Schmeltzer, survived the war, escaping Hungary on the famed Kastner train, spending several weeks in Bergen Belsen before finally arriving to safety in Switzerland.

Armed with the knowledge that his grandfather had died in 1945 of typhus and had been buried by his brothers in a mass Jewish grave, known as a kever achim, after the war, Lipa traveled to Budapest with his son for what proved to be a difficult search.

“My father told me that there was a plaque that had his name on it at the gravesite. We searched one cemetery, then another, looking through the snow at thousands of names for my grandfather’s name, finally going to the official cemetery office in Budapest that listed the burial places of lots of Schmeltzers. There was one Yosef Schmeltzer, but he died in 1940 and I knew my zaidy died in 1945,” recalled Lipa.

Frustrated, Lipa called an uncle in Switzerland who gave him very specific details about his grandfather’s place of burial.

“He told me exactly where to go in the cemetery and that the grave had a single headstone with the name Balfon on it,” said Lipa. “He said all around the grave there were plaques that had the names of the people who were buried there.”

Determined to find his grandfather’s name, Lipa called in workers to clear away the piles of snow that blanketed the area only to discover that it was completely overgrown by brush. Undaunted, Lipa hired landscapers to come in and cut the thick undergrowth and vegetation that had overtaken the plaques that surrounded the grave.

“I couldn’t see the names on the plaques,” said Lipa. “I took a knife, scraped away the dirt and kept looking, but I just couldn’t. We came so far for Moshe Yossi to put on tefillin at his zaidy’s kever. I was sure that when we found his name it would be the sign that Moshe Yossi should put on tefillin. But I realized that G-d was trying to tell me something. Don’t focus on the substance, focus on what is in your heart and I told Moshe Yossi, ‘My zaidy isn’t in a plaque. He is in heaven, he is in your heart, he is in my heart and he is in all of us.’ We took out the tefillin and Moshe Yossi put on his tefillin for the first time at his great-grandfather’s kever. There are no words to describe that moment.”

The documentary, a Sparks Next production produced by Danny Finkelman, culminates with Lipa singing a moving tribute, both to his son and to so many others, about the importance of continuing the legacy of the previous generations and keeping alive the memory of the six million who lost their lives during World War II.
For Lipa, there could be no more important message to his son on the evening of his Bar Mitzvah than to keep alive the voices of those who came before us.
“We traveled thousands of miles so my son could put on tefillin for the first time at his elter-zaidy’s kever. I said Kaddish for my zaidy at his kever. We must always teach our children the importance of staying connected to their roots so that they can continue to keep their flames burning brightly for generations to come.”


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  1. Is it not against Halacha to put on teffilin in a Graveyard. I know you cant wear your Tztzis out so Teffilin seems worse!!

  2. What is the problem all of you!! this is a beautiful true story and accusing lipa of doing something assur at a cemetary!! #6-what is wrong with an inspiring music video? is it not as exciting as your fancy car and fancy house?

  3. It is very touching that Lipa wanted to connect his son to his namesake. As to the video maybe this lesson of connection and never running away is worth the photo op etc …

  4. kudos to Matzav for posting this ridiculous post,which is against halacha. It’s a shame that people think Matzav is a kosher site.

  5. It is against halacha to put tzitis on in a cemetary.
    I cried so hard when I saw this video, so much emotion. The poor bar mitzva kid is being taught that life is fake, all for the cameras. using children and an old man who has no idea what they’re filming him for is… uch.

    But like “some people say”: Nisht do kan miter oser, der ikker is az yidden zul zahn besimcha.

  6. i’ve seen many crazy things in my life, but this beats them all!

    From where did he get a heter to put on talis and tfilin in a bais hachayim?!?!?!

    Why is MATZAV even posting this?!?

  7. how about a nice adele bar mitzva instead of garbage dancing like goyim to goyishe music. action are more than words. show you son the true meaning of an erliche yid aidelkeit.

  8. it is very assur to wear teffillin in a beis hakvaros [see shulchan aruch orach chaim siman 44. there are ways that its mutar though [i.e. no kever within 4 amos] and im sure lipa was doing it in mutar way, he is a rav after all.

  9. Hey amaratzim,
    Loeig lerosh is only a problem within four Amos of the meis. When the Gemara relates a story about it it says that one of the amoraim had his tzitzis dragging ON THE GRAVE. Furthermore, who says that the kever they were davening at was a kever Yisrael?
    It’s at least a sfek sfeika and therefore it behooves us to judge Lipa lkaf zechus.

  10. couldnt find any more important news. i think if u would have written an article about the new pope it wiuld be more Appropriate

  11. Looks like their hats were getting ruined in the snow. Why didn’t they put a plastic covering over them? Also, why wasn’t Lipa wearing gloves when he was cleaning off the grave stones? His hands must of been frozen.

  12. Hey, isn’t it loeg larosh to put on tzitzis in a cemetery (lets not even get into the colors of the tzitzis)??? What a way to show your kid how to start a life of responsibility toward following halacha!

    Also if his dad didn’t want to go, and it seems his dad didn’t want his son to go either – why did he go? Where was the kibud av in that??

  13. Can someonelarify the halacha about talis and teffilin (source) by a grave bec ive heard that also but doesnt everyone put on tallis and teffilin at kevarim like kevar rebbi shimon bar yochi etc.? I understand that maaras hamachpaila is different because their not buried where you put on talis teffilin but there are plenty other kevarim with shuls by the grave.

  14. Re the one who claimed before that Lipa is a Rabbi, I don’t think that is true. He doesn’t call himself that, as far as I recall. Let us say that Lipa meant well, but made a mistake re loeg larash.

    The video shows clearly that Lipa’s zeide was not a Chosid. He was an Oberlander Yid. Lipa’s father was a yasom and somehow ended up with Skvira.

    Here we see Lipa trying to go back to the world of his zeide, Moshe Yossel, by the trip, as well as the name he gave his son. Lipa should continue in this derech and go back to the Oberlander derech of Yiddishkeit, which is like Hungarian Yekkish.

  15. It behooves all of you to not judge him at all. Hashem did not put us on this earth to judge one another that is his job not ours. Lipa’s thought was to connect his son to his great grandfather and to history so that he and hopefully generations to come never forget what was and those that came before us. We should never forget those that gave their lives for Hashem. Chag Kasher v’sameach.