‘Slamming’ Judaism’s Critics: Ethan Metzger


After an SAR High School classmate challenged his religious beliefs two years ago, calling Metzger, who was raised in an Orthodox family, “brainwashed,” Metzger answered in poetry.

A fan of the “slam poetry” genre of competitive readings, he defended his upbringing and beliefs in 66 unrhymed lines that praised his parents and ended with the words:

“You can call it brainwashing if you want.

That’s fine.

I call it: Teaching.”

He read his poem a year ago at the first annual Bronx Youth Poetry Slam at the Kingsbridge Library. He didn’t win the competition, but, unbeknownst to him, friends taped his reading, posted the video on YouTube, then on Facebook. The video went viral, with more than 360,000 views.

“Guess what, I’m famous,” he told his parents, Leon and Emily, when he learned that his words were spreading on the Internet.

Metzger, now an SAR senior and a voice for Modern Orthodox teens, is looking ahead to a gap year before college at a yeshiva in Israel, then the University of Chicago. “I have no idea what I want to major in.”

Metzger has written other poems. And the one that made him famous? “I can’t remember the last time I looked at the video.”

Thespian: Metzger, who says he’s wanted to act in a school play, finally got his chance this semester, in the role of farmer John Proctor, the protagonist in SAR’s production of Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible.”

Ultimate hobby: An avid sports fan, Metzger is a founding member of his school’s Ultimate Frisbee club.

Youtube – Ethan Metzger poetry slam viral video