Lipa Goes To College

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lipa-schmeltzerHe is a singer, an entertainer, a performer, a composer, a lyricist and perhaps the most revolutionary force to ever hit the Jewish music world. But for the last two years, Lipa Schmeltzer has donned another guise, trading his microphones for textbooks and the concert stage for the classroom, as the colorful artist has headed to school in pursuit of a college degree.

Schmeltzer’s dream of obtaining a higher education began approximately two years ago as he drove past the local community college and began to contemplate the possibility of earning a college degree. Stopping off at the registrar’s office, Schmeltzer inquired as to the enrollment requirements and was told he needed a high school diploma.

“I never got an education other than biblical stuff,” reported Schmeltzer. “I called up someone in New Square and he got me a paper saying I had graduated high school.”

Not surprisingly, the registrar at Rockland Community College, a two-year school which is part of the State University of New York system, informed Schmeltzer that the paper he was holding was of little value. As English is actually Schmeltzer’s second language, he spent eighteen months working towards his high school equivalency diploma, taking classes at the Rockland County Board of Cooperative Educational Services as well as studying with private tutor Chaim Glovinsky in order to pass the series of five tests which would award him a General Equivalency Diploma and allow him to enroll in college.

Now completing his first full semester at RCC, the 34-year-old Schmeltzer is a firm believer in the value of proper schooling.

“I never had the opportunity to get an education,” explained the superstar. “It’s not fair what is going on in many communities today. People are getting married yet they have no way of supporting themselves and one day they wake up and realize they can’t manage. Even if someone disagrees with the idea of going to college there are still programs which can provide a college degree so that they can make something of themselves and support their families.”

Schmeltzer, who is pursuing a dual associate’s degree in performing arts and liberal arts, a two year process, took twelve credits in his first semester and hopes to take a full 18 credit course load for the upcoming spring semester. Among the courses Schmeltzer plans to complete in his first full year in college are acting, dance, musical theater, English, psychology and pluralism and diversity.

Both Schmeltzer’s classmates and the faculty at the college laud his exuberance, his talent and his determination.

“Lipa is kind, enthusiastic and nice to everyone,” said classmate Neidin Loughran. “Everyone in our acting class respects him, his beliefs, his decision to enroll in college at his age and his passion for performing.”

“Lipa has never boasted about his career but he is a superstar to us,” added department chairperson, Patricia Maloney-Titland, who was also Schmeltzer’s professor this past semester. “His manner, his work ethic, his creativity, everyone enjoys what he brings to the table. Lipa clearly inspires people and if anyone can be the messenger to remind us that we all need to find common ground to unite us, he is going to be that guy.”

In fact, Schmeltzer views his time at RCC as an opportunity not only for his personal growth but that of other Jewish students as well. Rabbi Dov Oliver, director of the RCC Hillel, which also doubles as a Chabad House, had nothing but praise for the college’s most well known musical personality.

“From his first days at RCC, Lipa has been here offering to do whatever he could,” reported Rabbi Oliver. “He has helped me put tefillin on kids and he brought his entire family for our annual Shabbat dinner. He made kiddush, sang zemiros, did badchanus and literally made his way to every single table in the room, making everyone feel good. Once, at our weekly parsha shmooze, Lipa spoke about his life, how unlikely it was that he would have ended up in college, explaining that you never have to accept your circumstances as the end game, you can control your own destiny and work towards what you believe. He made a very powerful impression on the students.”

Enrolling in college as an older student is just one of the many projects the enterprising Schmeltzer has undertaken. The entertainer is inordinately proud of the shul that he founded after relocating to Airmont, New York, several years ago. Having faced many challenges in his own life, Schmeltzer took great care to ensure that the shul be a place that is open and welcoming to everyone.

“I was a guy who wasn’t always welcome everywhere and I know what it is like not to feel comfortable walking into a shul,” recalled Schmeltzer. “For a long time I didn’t always have a place to daven on a weekday. I want everyone to feel welcome here, from those who come every day at 5:30 a.m. for the Daf Yomi shiur, to those who only come occasionally.”

Fellow congregant Yoely Weiss describes the Airmont shul as a place unlike any other.

“It is a loving, accepting environment, that isn’t chassidish, yeshivish or modern,” said Weiss. “It is everything and for everyone. There is a seriousness in the shul for true yiddishkeit and clearly people respond to that because it is jam packed every morning.”

Not an official rabbi as of yet, Schmeltzer hopes to add that title to his long list of credentials one day and is currently doing a twice-weekly online semicha program via Skype.

“I don’t know if I can finish the whole thing,” admits Schmeltzer.

Despite a hectic schedule that begins at 6:30 a.m. with a vasikin minyan and includes concerts, weddings, a newly released music video, Schmeltzer remains dedicated to his goal of getting a degree.

“I try to tell people the value of an education,” explains Schmeltzer. “You never know what’s going to be fifteen years from now and having a college degree opens a lot of doors, doors that you might need one day in the future.”

Read the report at THE JEWISH PRESS

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  1. Why is a Torah Website coming down to the level of the National Inquirer? Why should a Ben Torah care wether an entertainer goes to College or not? What is the Ben Torah to take from this all important story? When you become infatuated with a music star, you are dropping down to the goyisha misyavnim level. I don’t understand Matzav’s logic over here. Why don’t you report what Mesechta Rav Chaim Kaniefsky is learning right now? This type of story doesn’t paas for a real Torah Website.

  2. A little advice:

    Before taking any of the courses mentioned in this article, speak to a rov.

    Some of these courses can involve serious issurim. College might be a solution for some people, but not all subjects are “kosher.” BEWARE!!

  3. Shame on “Matzav”
    Is this what you call chareidi site.
    Lately you reporting is getting more and more secular.
    This tops them all.

    Chazoir B’Chu

  4. #3, #4: Don’t you realize that Lipa is doing a tremendous Mitzva in encouraging young married man to have a “Bekovedige” Parnosso?
    Do you want your children raised by Philippino nurses?

  5. Finally a smart comment; #5 you are 100% right; I couldn’t have said it better than you; To everyone else who commented, stop making an idol over him; Look to the Gedolei Hador & take away lessons over & over…This story is pure shtus! Shocked at the yerida that Matzav has become…now I understand why my children assur me from reporting anything on these “frum” websites to them or their wives & children. I finally

  6. TO #2 learn some English before you could tell him he’s a 100% right!!!!! Right is spelled RIGHT NOT RITE did you just fall from the moon

  7. Great…This will encourage those boys that are fans of lipa however are not “cut out” for learning their whole lives to pursue some sort of higher education to support themselves and B”H their future families…

  8. “Among the courses Schmeltzer plans to complete in his first full year in college are acting, dance, musical theater, English, psychology and pluralism and diversity.”

    If Lipa’s point was to encourage people to get an education in college, he should take courses that lead to a parnassah. Dance, acting, pluralism, and diversity sounds like he’s heading down the path of Matisyahu.

  9. Why is it that no one cares when any stupidity is posted? As soon as you say the word “Lipa” everyone goes nuts! Relax!! Lips is a good person with a tremendous heart who means well. You don’t agree with him? So don’t agree. Stop knocking other yidden who actually care AND do something about it too!

  10. Please take the point that college is a place to get education in order to earn a parnusso. Before someone decides to enter college they should speak to their Rav first to decide whether the classes are “hashkafadick” okay and the material being taught are Kosher.

  11. Dear Matzav editors,

    There are hundreds of news websites out there, if matzav competes with them it will surely fail. The reason why I and most of your other readers (I assume) patronize Matzav, is because of the “Erlich” content it provides. Reporting on the personal life of “rock-stars” be it Jewish or not, is NOT the type of news Matzav readers are interested in.

  12. I think the story is that Lipa believes others will take his lesson and take their education seriously. There is nothing wrong with learning and improving education.
    About going to college- everyone must ask their own personal shailah.
    My question is, ” Among the courses Schmeltzer plans to complete in his first full year in college are acting, dance, musical theater, English, psychology and pluralism and diversity.”
    How are any of those courses supposed to be a kiddush Hashem, Hmmm #6?????????????????????
    Especially acting, dance, musical theater, Pluralism and diversity? Many of those courses seem to border on kefira and lack of tzniyus, unless he has special stipulations he arranged.

    There is not enough information about the specifics of his classes, listed here. My point is that I hope no one decides to follow suit unless he asks very serious shailos. (And I’m speaking from a point of view of a mother whose daughter married a kollel boy yet graduated from a secular university. Yes, she did ask a shailah before applying.)

  13. I am not rendering judgment on Lipa. I do, however, have a question for all those extolling this as a kiddush Hashem:

    While it is true that being a mentsch and kind to everyone is wonderful, have you given thought to the fact that a frum, chassidishe man taking courses like acting, dance (?!?!) and pluralism is anything but?

    Think about it.

  14. To#4: the editor is someone who knows the spelling of site and who knows readers with poor spelling skills such as you spelling it as sight, need insight and this article can inspire you. Ask not for whose site but to be provided with insight.

  15. im only writing because i dont think matzav ever had so many respones to one thing. i feel left out. . lipa is my rock. maybe he’ll become a docter once hes at it. and except all insuranes.

  16. I live not far from RCC and am a Baalat Teshuva of 8 years. I have a BS in Occupational THerapy and a MS Ed in special Ed, and am pursuing a PhD online to become a clinical psychologist. I am far from wealthy money wise, but am able BH to make ends meet and send my kids tonYeshiva while earning money through work that is meaningful and brings cheesed into a broken world. I did notngeto go to yeshiva growing up as I only found my heritage in my mists entices, but am thrilled that I BeH can give that to my kids. Lipa, you are a walking Kaddish Hashem. You are like me, a bridge between thed different worlds that our Fellow Jews are ensconced in due to this Galus. More than about becoming more worldly or intelligent, your choice to earn a degree reflects your desire to learn how to understand and relate to Jews who grew up in and understand a world different from those who were fortunate to grow up frum from birth and be enmeshed in a Torah education their whole life. Don’t underestimate your Torah education because you are lucky to have it and your secular education will help you elevate your Torah educations so you can help nonreligiois Jews feel like you can relate to them and vi e versa. I think that many non religious Jews don’t want to come closer to the frum community because they. Feel they can’t relate or be related to and will be looked down upon. You are taking a beautiful initiative to bridge that gap and bring them closer, which is what Hashem desperately wants so we can end this awful Exile. Kol tuv! We are five minute,s walk from RCC and you are welcome to visit us and share yours gory and hear ours anytime! (My husband is a BT from the Ukraine and we are the sole frame people in both our families in more than three generations!) tiki l”mitzvot–please be sure LIpa reads this.


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