Lipa Fulfills a Promise to President Obama

Last year, at the White House Chanukah part, after President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama lit the menorah, singer Lipa Schmelczer joined the audience in singing “Ma’oz Tzur,” which Lipa belted out with passion. Afterward, President Obama shook hands with the Jewish community in the audience, and he they walked Lipa’s way, Lipa spontaneously promised to bring the Obamas a gold and silver yarmulka.

“I always wanted a gold and silver yarmulka,” President Obama responded.

“The words replayed in my mind ever since,” Lipa told

As a Jewish entertainer for the past 17 years, Lipa has traveled the world performing at weddings and concerts. But it’s not only his voice that’s unique. He also maked a point to wear various special accessories, from his eyeglasses to his colorful bekishe. Perhaps most of all, his is proud of the yarmulka that he wears atop his head, an expression of my creativity, personality, and commitment to his Jewish faith.

“In bringing the president something a garment that means so much to me, I hoped that powerful connection—of individuality and spirituality—would be passed along to him, regardless of his religion,” Lipa said.

Lipa asked for a friend’s assistance in helping to conceptualize the yarmulks design. He agreed, and in exchange, Lipa helped him write Yiddish lyrics to a few songs he had recently composed.

Then Lipa visited another friend at Brooklyn’s Best Embroidery, a specialty shop that designs everything from talleisim to Torah covers and cases.

While Lipa had noted to the Obamas that the yarmulka would be “gold and silver,” he quickly realized that he would have to stay away from using real gold for, well, practical reasons: it’s quite expensive. So he decided to attach silver buttons, similar to those that are placed on the atarah of a tallis. Lipa included the names of the President and First Lady, along with the colors of the American and Israeli flags. He also included designs of The White House and Migdal Dovid in Yerushalayim.

obama yarmulka (1)

Last week, Lipa traveled to Washington, D.C., and decided that it was the right time to give the Obamas my gift. Lipa arrived at the White House at 2:30 p.m. on Yom Ha’aztzmaut for a planned meeting with his liaison there and for a private tour of the White House. Lipa was told that he would not be presenting the gifts directly to the Leader of the Free World, but he already knew that. Still, the liaison explained that he would “give it to [President Obama’s] outer Oval Office team, just so it doesn’t go to a warehouse or anything like that, so he will be able to see it.”

obama yarmulka (3)

“I don’t know how, or even if, the President and the First Lady will use my yarmulka gift, or whether they’ll hang the velvet embroidered poem, entitled Obamaism,’ on the wall in their palatial Washington, D.C. home,” Lipa told “Maybe they’ll find a place for it when they move out of the White House. But I’m not disappointed. I followed through with a promise, which made me appreciate how lucky I am for the opportunities I have in my life, and for the opportunity to present the Obamas with two gifts that represent Jewish culture. I am honored to act in that role.”

Here are the lyrics to Obamaism:

When feeling grateful

I thank Obama

When praying kingdoms

I breath Obama

When lacking acceptance

I thirst Obama

When needing healing

I treasure Obama

When putting on Yarmulkas

I trust Obama

When lighting candles

I thrive Obama

When devouring Matzah

I trill Obama

When wishing for tolerance

I Act like Obama

But for Obama’s good fortune

I thank Michelle

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via – The Online Voice of Torah Jewry

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