Alex Clare is a talented musician. His song “Too Close” was number four on UK Singles Chart 2014 and number seven on the US Billboard Hot 100. The song was nominated for the Brit Award for Best British Single at the 2013 Brit Awards. Microsoft used a song of his in an advertisement that was played again and again around the world. He has an original genre (“soulful with an electric sound,” in his own words).
While you may have heard his music, you probably don’t know that he is a Hasidic Jew. Early in his career, he became religiously observant. What brought him to religion?
While immensely enjoying his music lifestyle, he wondered if this was all there was to life. He wandered into a Hasidic synagogue and was befriended by the rabbi. When he later refused to play on Sabbath and holidays, he was fired. He thought his career was over and he was devastated. But surprisingly, his career still took off. To date, he has sold 8 million copies of his CDs.
One year, Alex had been incredibly inspired by the Yom Kippur prayers. When he was called the night after Yom Kippur with an offer for the biggest performance of his career, he turned it down and was dismissed by his employer.
Before his return to Judaism, Alex had been dating British singing sensation Amy Winehouse, a fellow secular Jew. While Amy went on to die from alcohol poisoning, Alex went on to marry a daughter of a fellow Hasidic returnee to religious observance who had invited Alex for Sabbath meals. He currently lives in Jerusalem with his wife and children and studies Torah.
It is heartwarming to see someone go so far while not deserting his ideals. Alex continues to succeed beyond anyone’s imagination, making it all the way to the top.
By Rabbi Eli Reit