Hitting the High Notes

Student A Cappella Groups Find Their Voices at Yeshiva University; Maccabeats’ Success Continues

When the Maccabeats were founded in 2007 by Yeshiva College student Michael Greenberg, no one could have imagined the world-wide success they currently enjoy. Since the release of last year’s “Candlelight”—their Chanukah-themed YouTube hit which has drawn more than 6 million views—the group has performed in England, Israel, South Africa, and throughout the United States, including a performance at the White House for Jewish American Heritage Month and a meeting with President Obama.

The Y-Studs, with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and President Richard Joel, perform at the YU Hanukkah Dinner.

On a more local scale, the group’s success has given rise to two a cappella groups at Yeshiva University: the B’notes, an all-female ensemble on Stern College for Women’s Beren Campus, and the Wilf Campus Y-Studs, a musical group in the style of contemporary all-male collegiate a cappella.

Both groups have performed primarily for YU events but recently have emerged as viable choices for off-campus venues. The Y-Studs performed at last year’s Dreidel-Palooza, where Yeshiva students broke the Guinness Book world record for the most dreidels spun simultaneously, as well as at the University’s Yom Hazikaron program. This year, they are set to make a mark for themselves, having recently performed at the YU Hannukah Dinner and scheduled for the upcoming Annual YU Chanukah Concert. They have also begun performing at bar mitzvahs and shul dinners.

B'notes perform with members of Yachad at Stern College Karaoke Night.

The B’notes, now in its fourth year, only performs in front of female audiences, mostly at Stern College. The 13-member group practices twice each week and is anticipating increased gigs in upcoming months. Recently, they were excited to sing for the Center for the Jewish Future’s Rebbetzins’ Yarchei Yallah.

“It was thrilling to perform for an audience outside of Stern, which we had never done before,” said Tali Muroff, administrative director of the B’notes.

Muroff, a senior at Stern College, hopes the group’s music will “convey a sense of fun and positive energy to our audience, as we have so much fun performing.”

The Maccabeats entertained guests at a White House reception for Jewish community leaders in May.

The Maccabeats’ success has kept the group’s Jewish identity in the limelight. “We believe that what we do with our music and with our videos is merely an expression of what we believe in as modern Orthodox Jews: that we can infuse the modern and mundane with meaning, that we can be proud of and express our Jewish heritage in new, interesting and accessible ways,” said Noey Jacobson, associate director of the Maccabeats and senior at Yeshiva College.

Although they have a rigorous traveling schedule, the group remains dedicated to their YU roots. “We still owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the University and try to perform there as often as we can,” said Jacobson.

The Maccabeats have recently released another Chanukah-themed video, “Miracle,” featuring a cameo appearance by TV star and self-proclaimed number one Maccabeat fan, Mayim Bialek. The Maccabeats and Bialek have also teamed up with The Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation for a Miracle Match Campaign, hoping to raise $80,000 ($10,000 for each night of Chanukah) to help test cheek swab samples from potential bone marrow donors.

Watch the Maccabeats’ latest music video, “Miracle”…


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