Why is this Coachella different from all other Coachellas? This year’s Coachella begins on the first night of Passover. If you’re choosing to attend the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival instead of going to a Passover Seder this weekend, you can actually do both.
Rapper Kosha Dillz (real name Rami Matan) will be leading free Passover and Shabbat activities for concertgoers as part of the Shabbat Tent, dubbed “Matzachella,” on the Coachella campgrounds.
“Anyone who’s here is gonna be skipping Seders, so it’s a free Seder for the campers,” Kosha Dillz said. “It’s a good time to make people happy about Jews in general. Passover’s a pretty positive, miracle holiday. I’m rapping. We’ll have matzah, wine, grape juice; there’s cold drinks, there’s a place to charge your phone—sort of like a safe haven amongst all the chaoticness of a festival, especially Coachella.”
Coachella annually generates crowds of at least 100,000. Among them are Jewish music fans who will have the opportunity to do a Passover Seder outdoors and in the desert just like their ancestors, with the town of Indio substituting for the Promised Land. Many of them will be taking residence overnight at the Coachella campgrounds, and that is exactly where to find Kosha Dillz and the Shabbat Tent.
The mission of the Shabbat Tent is to be welcoming and open and bring Shabbat hospitality to Jewish concertgoers.
“We practice hospitality based on the Abraham and Sarah model,” said Rabbi Yonah Bookstein of Pico Shul, who took over the Shabbat Tent operations in 2010. “So it’s just an open tent and everybody comes.”
Bookstein said that one attendee pointed out at a previous festival, “You’re the only group here that’s not selling something!” The Tent relies solely on fundraising and donations from generous contributors who believe in its cause.
Shabbat Tents at music festivals began in 1999 at the jam band Phish’s Millenium concerts. While the founders are still on the advisory board, Bookstein helped build an enthusiastic team of volunteers and donors to continue spreading Shabbat Tents to some of the largest-attended weekend music festivals across the country. In the past, they have appeared at mega-festivals such as Bonnaroo and the Sundance Film Festival, among many others. Later this year, there will be Shabbat Tents at the Summer Camp Festival in Illinois and the High Sierra Music Festival in Quincy, California.
Since Coachella falls on Passover every few years, Matzachella spawned as a Shabbat Tent derivative. Kosha Dillz came up with the name after collaborating with Bookstein at the 2012 Paid Dues Festival in San Bernardino. They held their first Matzachella in 2016.
“I wrote this Haggadah for Kosha called ‘The Ten Minute Seder’ to do at the festival,” Bookstein said. “Now there’s a whole website for the ‘The Ten Minute Seder’ and it’s used all over the world. And it all started because Kosha and I had this crazy idea to do Passover at festivals.”
The festival spans two consecutive weekends from Friday through Sunday. This year is also the first Coachella festival since 2019—the 2020 and 2021 editions were canceled due to COVID.
“Thousands of Jews go to Coachella,” Bookstein said. “So people would come by [the Shabbat Tent] and say things like, ‘My mom was really mad that I was going to a festival over Passover, but now I can show her that I did do a Seder.’”
Another reason this Matzachella is different from all other Matzachellas is that Bookstein is unable to attend, but for a good reason: he is currently in Poland to lead 70 refugees from Ukraine in a Passover Seder, which he explained to the Journal earlier this month.
So that leaves Kosha Dillz and rapper Groovy Jew (Brad Cohen) of Santa Monica to take the lead at Matzachella.
Kosha Dillz is a first-generation American born to an Israeli family. He grew up in New Jersey and currently resides in New York City. Over the past year, he has experienced an explosion of popularity. He went viral last fall while was performing with a microphone and amplifier in the rain outside of Madison Square Garden after a Knicks basketball game.
Then, one of Kosha Dillz’s heroes, rapper Fat Joe, walked by and rapped a few lines alongside Kosha Dillz, much to the delight of the crowd. The video generated millions of views and was covered by news outlets worldwie. Four days later, Fat Joe invited Kosha Dillz to perform with him at a concert in Denver.
Throughout the past few months, Kosha Dillz traveled the world performing songs from his latest album, “Nobody Cares Except You.” In addition to performing all over the U.S., he also performed in Portugal, Paris and Jerusalem. Along the way, he found the time and stamina to run the L.A. Marathon.
At his core, he’s a freestyle rapper. Those improvisational skills earned him a spot this summer on the 18th season of the VH1 sketch comedy and improv game show series “Wild ‘N Out” with Nick Cannon.
At the time of the interview, Kosha Dillz was already dressed as Moses, making Matzachella hype videos for his 57,000 Instagram followers.
For those coming by the Shabbat Tent for some Matzachella, there will be free 10-minute Seders every 30 minutes starting Friday night at 6:00 p.m., and again on Saturday at 6:00 p.m. every 30 minutes until 9:00 pm. Kosha Dillz and Groovy Jew will be there for “chillin’ vibes” between Passover and Shabbat activities events—which will be needed, as the temperatures are forecasted to be around 90 degrees.
The crowd at Coachella skews towards a young adult demographic.
“We can’t expect young adults to be coming to us, [so] we sometimes have to bring Shabbat to them,” Bookstein said. “It shows that you don’t stop being a Jew at a festival. You can do Shabbat there [and] you know you can bring your friends. A lot of people reflect back and they say, ‘Shabbat Tent was one of my favorite parts of the festival. It was such a great chill zone.’”
Kosha Dillz also wants to remind people that the Shabbat Tent is for both Jew and non-Jews, and encourages anyone walking by to ask questions—even if it’s not the Four Questions.
“People like culture. I just took a [non-Jewish] friend to a Shabbat in Atlanta and they were like, ‘I’ve never done that before. Am I allowed to do that?’” Kosha Dillz said. “My whole aura is introducing stuff to people that they’ve never seen. I bring what I’m proud of whether that’s rapping or Passover. And I love Passover.”
The Shabbat Tent at Coachella is located at 811th Street and Main in lot 8 at the Coachella camping grounds. For those wandering/having difficulty locating Shabbat Tent, you can contact @KoshaDillz, @groovy_jew or @shabbattent on Instagram for updates. More information on Shabbat Tent can be found on their website: https://www.shabbattent.org/coachella
View this post on Instagram