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Rabbi's Blog

rabbi 05 smallsf badge lgRabbi Joel Landau  ( has been the Rabbi of Adath Israel since May 2013. He was ordained by the Chief Rabbinate in Jerusalem and has served previously as a congregational Rabbi in Charleston, South Carolina and Irvine, California. A full biography of Rabbi Landau is available here.

Several weeks ago, I mentioned that I was thinking about speaking from the pulpit about Adele. Unfortunately, so far, I haven’t been able to find the right connection between Adele and any parasha. Therefore, I’ve decided to share my thoughts on her through the blog.

For those of you who might not be familiar with Adele, she is a singer who has ushered in a cultural phenomenon. Time magazine recently awarded her the title of “Music’s Past, Present, and Future.” In an age where buying physical records seems like an exercise in anthropology, Adele’s newest album, 25, has completely shattered previous sales records. Spanning all types of fan demographics — age, race, gender — Adele has become more than a household name and is the only pop star that you can listen to with your grandma.  But what exactly accounts for the superstar’s success? It seems to me that she embodies a variety of Jewish themes.

  1. She’s Relatable — Raised by a single mother in working-class Northern London, Adele has remained grounded and does not let her superstardom get to her head. Moreover, she is a refreshing deviation from the unhealthy industry standard of stick skinny models.  Adele herself says, “Sometimes I'm curious to know if I would have been as successful if I wasn't plus-size. I think I remind everyone of's relatable because I'm not perfect, and I think a lot of people are portrayed as perfect, unreachable and untouchable.” Her classic themes of heartbreak and empowerment are subjects that all different types of individuals can identify and connect with.

  1. Her Work Has Integrity — In an industry that has become less about artistry and more about churning out hits from a factory, Adele’s commitment to the integrity of her music is like a breath of fresh air. Instead of focusing on branding, social media, or product endorsement deals, Adele prefers to focus on crafting the story of her music. Whereas most songwriters and producers are more concerned with the bottom line, Adele’s conviction to her work produces ballads that pay homage to real artistry before the manufactured teen-pop trends of the 1990’s.  

  1. She Regards Herself with Dignity — One of the factors that differentiates Adele from so many other female entertainers is her dignified elegance. Her trademark style, reminiscent to the classic glamour of the 1940’s and 50’s, has taken the fashion industry by storm. Refusing to conform to the industry standard of being objectified by clothing, Adele opts instead for a more modest wardrobe. As Adele says, “I don't make music for eyes, I make music for ears.” This attitude embodies the Jewish concept of tzniut, modesty.  By shifting the attention from her body to her work, Adele allows the audience to focus on what really matters — the music.