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October 26, 2014 / 2 Heshvan, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘beard’

Can a Bearded Candidate Become Mayor? Yes and No

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

Bill de Blasio is not a Hasid, although he represented Borough Park in the city Council. Nevertheless, the NY Post took issue with the mayoral hopeful getting rid of his beard as soon as he was considered a serious candidate for mayor.

“As a Brooklyn councilman, de Blasio sported a beard when elected in 2001, taming it to a rakish mustache and goatee by the time he was public advocate in 2010. Just a year later, he made his smooth transition,” the Post noted.

“I didn’t leave my beard — my beard left me,” de Blasio told The Post, explaining that it was vanity, not politics, that led him to shave it off. “I started to notice flecks of gray . . . and I didn’t like the look,” de Blasio admitted, adding he “immediately felt younger after the shave.”

Experts said de Blasio’s close call makes sense, because conventional wisdom says facial hair doesn’t cut it in politics.

“In modern times, it makes the general public wince,” said political consultant George Arzt, who worked on de Blasio’s campaign for public advocate. Voters find facial hair “untrustworthy,” he added.

However, Arzt cautioned, “you can’t keep switching off from beard to mustache and goatee to nothing — then you don’t have a steady image of that person. That could work against him.”

Which raises the question: can a candidate with a beard become mayor of New York City? Maybe that’s why Joe Lhota, the Republican favorite, is considered a long shot. Joe Lhota — is the lone bearded candidate in the race. The last bearded mayor of New York City was William Gaynor, who served from 1910 to 1913. He was also the only mayor targeted by an assassin; he survived being shot in the throat in 1910, but died three years later.

“Having facial hair is not a determent,” Lhota declared to The Post. “I have no desire to shave it. That’s not going to happen. Plus, Republicans can get away with it more than Democrats, because they have this image of being self-made people.”

And Arzt confirmed to the post: “if anyone can pull it off, Lhota can, because the beard is part of his personality.”

Matisyahu’s Interview with CNN

Sunday, December 30th, 2012

Formerly Hasidic reggae star Matisyahu participated in a candid interview with CNN, discussing his departure from observant Jewish life and his connection to his religion.

Just following the release of his album “Spark Seeker”, and a year after he shaved off his beard and publicized it in a controversial Twitter post, Matisyahu said that even though he no longer lives according to Torah laws, he is still as Jewish as ever.

“Judaism is just such a huge part of who I am.  I don’t think I could separate that at this point,” Matisyahu told CNN.  “I spent 10 years sort of really immersed heavily in the practice and in the study of Judaism. ..it’s still such a part of me that it’s inescapable.”

Regarding his departure from Chassidism which began with his abandonment of the Chabad movement, Matisyahu said “I started out in the Chabad movement, and I started pretty closed up, with the idea of there being that “this is it.” I bought into that fully. I really explored in depth the Chabad ideology. Then I started to open up. … I started to explore other types of Hasidism. … Eventually I began to regain trust into my own intuition and my own sense of right and wrong. I began to realize that there were a lot of things within that lifestyle that were actually holding me back…. and keeping me from tasting a certain freedom of expression.”

When pressed, he said that he ultimately walked away from Orthodox Judaism because “When I’m talking about all the heaviness, I’m really talking about the rules. So at a certain point … I basically said, “I don’t need to do all these things. It’s my life, I can choose how I want to worship God, what words I want to say. I can say less words.” And once I let go of that, just sort of like a freedom that opened up that I began to taste, this freedom in my life that I had been missing.”

Matisyhau said that the professional implications of shaving his beard – a decision he came to over the course of years – did not concern him, as he believed in the power of his music, and said he did not believe he had garnered fans because of the beard.  He did, however, say the beard helped “put me on the map and get me attention”.

Matisyahu said he tells his three children that “nobody knows the way” when it comes to religion, and that while teachers and others may represent Judaism as encompassing Torah laws, “you have to decide in your life what’s real for you”.  While he infuses their lives with elements of Judaism which are “enriching and meaningful”, he does not remind the children to do things like wear a kippah or say blessings on food.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/matisyahus-interview-with-cnn/2012/12/30/

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