More than 400 people, from newborns to these in their 90s, came together Nov. 24 at Congregation Tifereth Israel to sing and clap during a performance by The Maccabeats, a popular Jewish a cappella group.
The group’s appearance was the culmination of Greater Columbus’ participation in The Shabbat Project 2019, a joint effort between JewishColumbus and the Jewish Community Center of Greater Columbus. Inspired by a global, grassroots movement, the local events were designed to expose the Jewish community to various aspects of Shabbat and Judaism. Jack Chomsky, cantor of Tifereth Israel, said in addition to hosting the concert, his congregation provided financial assistance to bring the singers to Columbus.
Shana Beigelman, director of adult activities at the JCC, said The Maccabeats have a wide community appeal.
“We hope attendees enjoyed an inspirational afternoon of Jewish music and community,” she said.
Joel Marcovitch, CEO of JewishColumbus, said he enjoyed the concert along with his young family.
“JewishColumbus is about bringing people together. Celebrating together makes it that much more joyful. It is important to come together in moments of commemoration and celebration,” he said.
Julian Horowitz, who has been music director for The Maccabeats for 11 years, said when the group hits the stage, it’s not only those in the audience with anticipatory smiles on their faces. The performers themselves do too.
He said his favorite aspect of being with The Maccabeats is “the ride. The travel. To visit, see and interact with amazing people and places. We have performed in six continents and 40 states.”
The Maccabeats were formed when its members were students at Yeshiva University in New York. They all participated in a Jewish a cappella troupe at YU and discovered a chemistry they wanted to take beyond the school’s walls. The original group members adopted The Maccabeats’ name in 2008, recorded its first album in 2009 and began touring in 2010. They also released their first video for the song, “Candlelight,” which Horowitz said is the “original Jewish holiday video and some songs have earned their place in the hierarchy of Jewish (culture.)”
He said his favorite Maccabeats song, however, is the group’s version of “Lecha Dodi,” set to the tune of composer Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” He favors that song, he said, because it is “symbolic of where we came from at Yeshiva University, where we received a robust Jewish education along with a full university education.”
Today, The Maccabeats have 13 members overall, and they often tour in groups of six or seven singers. That means, Horowitz said, “there could be two groups of Maccabeats performing because we perform in (smaller numbers.)”
Horowitz said a performance by The Maccabeats is a celebration of the singers’ “love of Judaism enjoyable by people of all faiths because we are all about love and universality.”
Robyn Silberstein, from the east side of Columbus, attended the Nov. 24 concert with her husband, Jon, her mother, Marian Bogante, and other relatives.
“My nieces and nephews, who are triplets, asked us to bring them, and we were happy to. We had a great time,” she said.
Tami Kamin Meyer writes for the Columbus Jewish News from Bexley.