By Jessica Ravitz, CNN
Atlanta (CNN) – According to Jewish tradition, a boy becomes a man at 13, when he's called before his community to read from the Torah and become a bar mitzvah, meaning “son of the commandments.”
In the case of Daniel Blumen, who will make this rite of passage in May, this homestretch of childhood has suddenly become a viral event.
Rather than send out simple save-the-date cards or e-mail announcements, Daniel busted out and did something different. A fan of rap music, this only child and “clever little guy,” as described by his father, made a music video – for which he wrote most of his own lyrics – playing off Jermaine Dupri's “Welcome to Atlanta," featuring Ludacris.
Welcome to Atlanta where the playas play,
Hope you can make my bar mitzvah day.
Thirteen years since I was born,
And the party won't stop till Sunday mornin'.
The video features Daniel plugging landmark sites across the city – Turner Field, the Olympic rings, the Georgia Aquarium – and includes a smattering of celebs. Ne-Yo holds up a sign in a photo: "To My Lil Rapper D Mazel Tov!" In another image, Shaquille O'Neal and Charles Barkley sit at the TNT Halftime Report desk, where Daniel also appears.
The final product was intended for friends and family and went out two weeks ago. But on Tuesday, a staff writer at Tablet magazine, Adam Chandler, saw it on Facebook after a friend of a friend shared it. He wrote a quick piece for the online Jewish publication, and social media took over – landing Daniel in the spotlight and on national TV.
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“I've never done anything even closely related to this,” said Daniel, who explained that he and his mom were inspired by a save-the-date video that a kid from New York made a couple of years ago, playing off Jay-Z's “Empire State of Mind.” “It was really good, but we wanted to do something funnier that had to do with Atlanta.”
The reviews from friends and family have been great. And plenty of strangers are loving it, too, including Frank Ski, an Atlanta radio and TV personality.
Ski, who appeared in the original Jermaine Dupri and Ludacris video, was one of a handful of local celebs to make cameo appearances in Daniel's. He has a son in Daniel's school and a friend who practices law in the same firm as Daniel's parents. So when the friend approached him about the project, he couldn't resist. Daniel went to Frank Ski's Restaurant & Lounge, and after 15 minutes in the DJ booth together they had what they needed.
“It was pretty simple and painless,” Ski said. As for the final product: “Very creative,” he said. “Hilarious.”
Another fan is Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, who also made an appearance after Daniel's mom sent a request to the mayor's office.
"Mayor Reed has an extremely busy schedule, but he has a soft spot for kids and this seemed like a fun, easy thing to do. ... It only took a few minutes," spokeswoman Sonji Jacobs wrote in an e-mail. "We did not know it would go viral. We think it is very cute."
Not everyone who's come across the video is pleased, however. There are plenty of oys and ughs, claims that this is an insult to a faith and a people, and other sweeping generalizations about what the video represents. One woman wrote on Facebook: "Gag. This would be cute if it weren't so excessive. I'm embarrassed on behalf of The Temple (the synagogue Daniel's family attends), my home city and southern Jewry."
The thing is, beyond the kid in New York who inspired the idea, Daniel is far from alone in doing this. Do a quick YouTube search, and there are oodles of less compelling save-the-date videos.
The criticisms are mind-blowing to Rabbi Peter Berg of The Temple, who agreed to a quick cameo himself. He said he knows countless synagogues that release playful videos, including raps, to ramp up High Holy Day attendance. And it's not as if this is Daniel's actual bar mitzvah, a ceremony the boy is taking very seriously.
“This is just a kid's save-the-date that he's sending to Aunt Sylvia,” said Berg. “He's a good kid. He's excited about his bar mitzvah, and I think it's a shame people are being critical.”
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Even the headline to the Tablet story made a little dig: “Bar Mitzvah Video Eclipses GDP of Small Nations.”
That, too, is laughable to those who were involved. Berg said no one was paid to be in the video. It was shot in a day (other than quick cameos) and edited by a recent college grad, 21-year-old Gabi Chennisi, with the help of her boyfriend. Chennisi, who freelances around Atlanta and does work for CNN sister network HLN, said she got no more than $2,000 for the job – one she couldn't have enjoyed more.
“I want people to look for the spirit in the video,” she said. “He was not taking himself too seriously. The family wanted to have a good time with it, and he had a blast.”
And for those who complain that Daniel's parents, Rick Blumen and Liz Price, have nothing better to do with their money?
“This cost much less than the printed invitations (to the bar mitzvah), which aren't lavish either,” Daniel's dad said. “We'll have a normal service and normal party afterward. We're not looking to top any lists or do anything spectacular.”
But the fact that Daniel was inspired enough to do this video is pretty spectacular, said Clark Howard, an Atlanta-based syndicated consumer expert who appears on radio and TV, including HLN.
Howard doesn't know Daniel's parents, but when they reached out to one of his producers and he heard about what Daniel was doing, he was in. Something about a boy being pumped for his bar mitzvah got to him.
“It can be a brutal path,” Howard said.
He should know. He didn't have his bar mitzvah until 11 years ago, when he was 46. He decided to do it when his oldest daughter was studying for – and complaining about – her coming-of-age ceremony.
“She said, 'Dad, why do I have to do this when you never did it?' I said, 'You're right,'” Howard remembered. “She thought I was going to say 'quit.' … I said, 'Why don't I do it, too.'”
For two years he studied. He'd take breaks from a book tour to return to Atlanta and have lessons with his rabbi. He had no idea how hard it would be. Come the big day, which included a joint service with his daughter, Howard choked.
“She nailed it,” he said. “I was completely pathetic.”
Daniel, said those who know him, is bound to shine. He's working hard, according to his rabbi. He's conscientious and getting straight As, said his dad. The boy was racing off to Hebrew lessons, which he has twice a week, when CNN reached him Wednesday evening.
Fred Assaf, the head of Daniel's school, Pace Academy, and also a video cameo star, said there's a lesson in all of this – especially for those who grumble about “kids these days.”
“The world changes,” he said. “We're trying to get kids to take leadership positions and create a new world and not be stuck in the past. We encourage critical thinking and creativity. If these young kids can't be smarter than us, we're in trouble.”
If a child is having fun and is excited about an important milestone in his life, that's great news, he said.
“And a kid who's put himself out there regarding his faith, good for him,” Assaf said. “Who can complain?”
My dream retirement would be living in Udaipur, India! I have been on the city and really like the people today and Indian culture. I'd be thrilled to be able to see this film which takes place in the ideal place in the earth! :)
Free speech helps educate the masses
Gravity is not up for debate !
BY the way ...................Splat goes a fairy in the sky !...............bye bye tinker bell !
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Hey James Madison................religion has none it looks like.............with the comments on this blog.
The Big question is ETHICS ! does religion have any ?
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And NO ANGELS the pope KICKED them OFF the TEAM last year !
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the wrong path is Adam and Eve !
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No god(s) needed or required to graduate from public schools in the US
Remember : Adam had to POKE himself hard with his OWN BONE to create Eve.
No god(s) needed................... Old. DNA works..................also catches crooks !
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Good stuff !
See for yourself below.................The fairy in the sky did NOT create us !!!
Monkey Math: Baboons Show Brain's Ability to Understand Numbers ..........E = mc2..............(U-Pb) numbers do not lie !
May 3, 2013 — Opposing thumbs, expressive faces, complex social systems: it's hard to miss the similarities between apes and humans. Now a new study with a troop of zoo baboons and lots of peanuts shows that a less obvious trait – the ability to understand numbers – also is shared by humans and their primate cousins.
OR.........take a ride on a DINO.
Fossil records are better to read than the nasty bible..................no god(s) required !
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May 7, 2013 — Scientists have named a new species of bone-headed dinosaur (pachycephalosaur) from Alberta, Canada. Acrotholus audeti (Ack-RHO-tho-LUS) was identified from both recently discovered and historically collected fossils. Approximately six feet long and weighing about 40 kilograms in life, the newly identified plant-eating dinosaur represents the oldest bone-headed dinosaur in North America, and possibly the world.
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אנו מתפללים כי אתה יודע משיח.
Once again, so-called "Christian Rap" is C-R-A-P.
This is DEFINATE PROOF THAT THE JEWS CONTROL THE MEDIA. This is a national story... a Jewish kid sucks so bad at rapping that a black or white kid could fart and it would be a better "busted ryme?" This kid sucks so bad that the Jews would have to control the media for him to be a story! Why this ryme is busted it can't be trusted. Shabbat Shalom–Oy Oy Oy.
Oi, Oi Skin...d
get your HEAD CUT
How can we ever have any hope in this world if people keep thinking race is anything other than a few minor biological variations in appearance? Seriously, if you don't believe that call ask a nurse.
Leave it alone
He should be singing Jewish songs , not our sh...it
if my 13 year-old came home and started acting like "fitty-cent",
I'd dump him off in the ghetto and let him fend for himself....
to enter our Ghettos
stay in the WHITE PICKET FENCES area
coming where we are is not recommended , for anyone that s not like us , you wanted to se gre ga..te
YOU GOT IT
Daniel, I loved your Rap may G_d continue to bless you. You put a smile on my face
you love his Rap, because its a rich jewish kid
you hate our black race and proud to say it loud over the internet
this kid should be doing his sh...t in jewish culture , not ours , this is black stuff
That is really interesting, You are an overly professional blogger. I have joined your feed and look ahead to in the hunt for extra of your great post. Also, I have shared your website in my social networks!
Well, there are many nice posts here. Daniel, I hope you had a wonderful Bar Mitzvah. You keep reading Tanach. You will be so glad you did. Also you should try reading the New Testament or New Covenant. Decide for yourself if it, like Tanach, is from G-d. Shalom
I think this video is cute. And @ End Religion, whether the scriptures are true or not, we should let the boy decide for himself what he believes. If he really believes in Judaism, and he's happy in it, good for him. Personally, I don't have anything against any religious group, or any society, just individuals.
Of course the comments and likes are disabled on Youtube.... This is disgusting. lol
Mazel Tov Daniel. If you would like to explore the roots of real Jewish music, which has a deep and mysterious history, take a look at my friend Cantor Richard Kaplan's website: http://www.kaplanmusic.com/ You will be happy to know that your "rap" is part of a five-thousand year tradition in Jewish music of incorporating local/contemporary styles and idioms. What better way to celebrate the coming of manhood than to make a "joyful noise". Stay gold, ponyboy.
Post by End.. Is uncivil
Read this dialy to find truth
It is wonderful and very important to have children read the Scriptures. For Daniel, this is a great opportunity to grow in knowledge and wisdom.
It is child abuse to have children read scripture as anything other than a look into our fictional historically religious past, like studying a dead language.
thats right endy, thats what i want you to tell people. i cant wait until you and your family and followers get down here .
hahahaha. You are so valuable to us, that we want you to be happy and live in peace. go on then. keep going the way you are.
i no like jew
yeah, study the torrah, another fairy tale BS book
jews are so damnned annoying
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.