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The Maccabeats

The Maccabeats are an a cappella group with a Jewish twist


NEW YORK (CIRCA) — It's Hanukkah time, which means there's a new music video out by The Maccabeats, a New York City-based a cappella group that uses popular music to tell the story of the Jewish people.

Releasing a Hanukkah video has become a bit of a tradition for the group, ever since its 2010 parody of Taio Cruz's "Dynamite," called "Candlelight," went viral by reaching 1 million views in a week. It quickly jumped to 5 million, and currently has over 14 millions views.

The group formed in 2007 at Yeshiva University in Manhattan. What started as a college club soon blossomed into something much bigger. Thanks to the success of "Candlelight," the group appeared on national TV, started getting invitations to sing all over the world, and performed for President Barack Obama at the White House for Jewish Heritage Month.

The Maccabeats and Obama
The Maccabeats got to meet President Barack Obama during their appearance at The White House. (The Maccabeats)

It's been eight years since the release of "Candlelight," and the band hasn't slowed down since then. It's released four studio albums, and has mostly stuck with the successful formula of combining pop songs with a fresh spin on the Jewish story.

Musical director Julian Horowitz explained the group's approach to its music: "We are taking the medium of modern pop songwriting, which is melodies that people know and songs that they know from Starbucks and the radio, and using those melodies to develop and portray Jewish ideas and themes."

The group also continues to release multiple music videos a year, each one garnering hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of views.

The Maccabeats group photo

The Maccabeats have found an international audience with their tasteful covers of some of music's biggest hits, including Ed Sheeran's "Castle on the Hill" ("Candles on the Sill"), Walk the Moon's "Shut Up and Dance" ("Latke Recipe"), and many more. They've toured the world, having played on six continents and in 40 U.S. states.

Despite most of the guys having full-time jobs outside of The Maccabeats, they've found a way to make it work, and they don't plan on giving it up anytime soon.

One group member, Nachum Joel, is happy that the group is still together: "In 2012, I thought that this was a wild ride, that I would just ride out the wave. And (for) some reason, it's still going and we love that it's still going. And hopefully, we just get to continue doing what we love to do."

Their fans hope so, too.

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