Matisyahu, the American Jewish reggae singer, has caused anger after footage emerged of him pushing a group of teenage female fans off a raised stage during a performance at the Jewish Community Center’s (JCC) Maccabi Games in Alabama.
The incident took place as the singer, who is known for blending Orthodox Jewish themes with reggae, rock and hip hop, performed in front of hundreds of athletes aged between 13 and 16 last Sunday at the University of Alabama at Birmingham's Bartow Arena.
Video footage shows a number of athletes climbing onto the stage, dancing with Matisyahu and his band with no intervention by security staff.
The singer reacts by pushing some of them off the stage into a two-feet drop to the ground.
One of the fans involved was Devorah Leff, the daughter of Rabbi Barry Leff, of the local Temple Beth El Synagogue in Birmingham, Alabama.
Rabbi Leff told the Jerusalem Post that he felt Matisyahu’s reaction was “wildly inappropriate”.
He said: “It was only a two-foot drop. All she got was a scrape and a little bit of a sore back, but it could have been much, much worse.
“My understanding is the kids went up on the stage by themselves but security didn’t say anything or tell them they weren’t supposed to.
“One kid was crying – she was so upset seeing Devorah get pushed off stage. I want to make sure Matisyahu gets the message that it’s not OK to assault 16-year-old girls.
“I think there needs to be some kind of consequences to his actions, whether it’s a substantially reduced fee for him for the concert or something.”
Attendee Benjamin Orgel tweeted: “Just saw @matisyahu push two 13 year old girls off a stage at a private concert in Birmingham. You are a despicable human.”
Just saw @matisyahu push two 13 year old girls off a stage at a private concert in Birmingham. You are a despicable human.— Benjamin Orgel (@BenjaminCowboys) July 31, 2017
The JCC Association of North America told the New York Post that they condemned Matisyahu’s actions.
A spokesman said: “We are disappointed and dismayed that our opening concert performer, Matisyahu, forcibly removed some of our teen participants from the stage, and we will co-operate with any police investigation.”
The JCC Maccabi Games, organised as an Olympic-style international sporting competition, attracts delegations from across the US, Israel and the Ukraine.