Smartphone Addiction Inspires New Maccabeats’ Shabbat Video

“I wish there was a thing like Shabbat … a worldwide day where we’re not on our phones … an actual day of real rest.” This quote comes from a rather unexpected source: Katy Perry, in an interview with Cosmopolitan. The quote also appears in the opening shot of a new music video — not a video by Katy Perry, but one by the Jewish a cappella group the Maccabeats.

This video was produced by the organization Jew in the City. According to its website, the group’s mission is to “break down stereotypes about religious Jews and offer a humorous, meaningful look into Orthodox Judaism,” which the group describes as being “just as relevant today as it ever was.” The Maccabeats’ video demonstrates this point by juxtaposing the quiet isolation a of a cell-phone-obsessed society with the robust joy and interconnectedness of Shabbat.

In the video, our technologically imposed solitude is aptly played out against the backdrop of the Maccabeats’ rendition of the 1960’s Simon & Garfunkel classic The Sound of Silence. Some of the lyrics are so spot-on that it is shocking to think they were composed over 50 years ago. For example, “People talking without speaking” is a perfect description of texting or communicating via social media. And, “the people bowed and prayed to the neon god they made” conveys our dependence on our devices.

In contrast, the joy of Shabbat is depicted in the video during the singing of Lecha Dodi — “Come, My Beloved,” which is the traditional song for welcoming Shabbat. During this part of the video, every sound is audible, from birds chirping to children laughing to glasses clinking. Alluding to the mitzvah of intimacy on Shabbat, the song ends with a tender moment between husband and wife and the tagline “Turn off the Sound of Silence. Turn on the Sound of Shabbat.”

This video was shared by Rabbi David Levin, the Radmal, on his Jewish Relationships Initiative blog. The video is covered by the Standard YouTube License.

The Les Misérables Special You Will Only See On Passover!

The Maccabeats sing the story of Passover in a perfectly adapted medley based on Les Miserables.

“Look down, look down. You’ll always be a slave…” Wait for the grand finale as they continue with “Do you hear the people sing? Say do you hear the distant drums, It is future that they bring when tomorrow comes.” The Maccabeats are unbeatabe on their new album – One Day More. Just sit back and enjoy!

The Maccabeats or StandFour?

— by Joshua Redlich  Chanukah may be over, but the songs are still in our heads. Two years ago it was "Candlelight," a song that reached over a million viewers in less than a week, launching the singing careers of the young and talented members of Yeshiva University's unofficial acapella group, The Maccabeats. But this Chanukah, "Eight Nights" by StandFour seems to be the song that everyone's kvelling about. But with the catchy, meaningful, and inspiring song came the unfortunate breakup of The Maccabeats, everyone's favorite Jewish acapella group.  Two Hanukkah parodies and more after the jump.  

 

With the constant touring and concerts, Immanuel Shalev, David Block, Noey Jacobson, and Nachum Joel, three of whom are married and all of whom have full time jobs, decided to part ways with the group and start their own. "Eight Nights, a parody mash up of “Some Nights” by Fun, “Die Young” by Ke$ha, and “Live While We’re Young” by One Direction, is their first song, and already it's a hit.   While I can not say which acapella group I like more just yet, I am excited to see what the future holds in store for each. And besides, no one can deny that two Jewish acapella groups are better than one.

LimmudPhilly: Strong Participation, Maccabeats Ovation

“Outside the box and over the top interesting”, is how participant Ron Siegel, described his 2012 LimmudPhilly this past weekend. “National leaders and the best of local teachers came out and gave their best. We were like drinking it up.” Exclaimed 20 and 30-something Anna and Beth Silver. Sophie Mellon added: “Just today, I learned how to encounter a homeless person in one session, Jewish traditions about creating social change in another, and then I attended a Jewish theater event, a very hot Maccabeat concert, and the discussion at lunch about Jewish values and health insurance, I learned a ton.”

More after the jump.

Some 80 teachers and waves of participants made LimmudPhilly 2012 a profound success. Saturday night was described by many as when the Maccabeats brought everyone to their feet in the rare ecstasy of high quality concert passion that becomes great woven with soulful prayer.

Co-chairs Brian Cohen and Sara Levy and the rest of the winning leadership team ensured quality control from facilities to the incredible diversity of sessions and perspectives. From the presence of Ami Eden, head of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, to the Shabbat prayer lab given by Syd Schwartz, a senior fellow at CLAL, to Gail Twersky Riemer, founder of the Jewish Women’s Archive, into the innovations of 24/6 a Jewish Theater Company and art forms and scholarship of every form, we all saw PhillyLimmud continuing to evolve in healthy and holy ways. Plus, Helen Plotkin ran a beit midrash par excellence. Focused volunteers, a good many teens were helping everywhere one would look.

LimmudPhilly also drew participants who love Limmud from New York, Washington, DC and beyond. Chairs from other Limmud Conferences were present, as well, taking notes. Young Limmud for the youngsters is what we all wished Hebrew school could have been.

At the Philadelphia Jewish Voice table Ronit Treatment had brought the famously kosher insect locusts for viewing, and a poster with recipes and their history in our Biblical tradition. It was wonderful meeting so many creative, engaging, spiritual and intellectually active Philadelphians.

Something to be proud of: Limmud Philly. See you next year!  

Limmud Philly 2012: You don’t want to miss it!

Limmud Philly 2012, Friday April 27 through Sunday, April 29! PhillyLimmud is a widely acclaimed festival of Jewish learning and culture where 70 amazing presentations are scheduled this year.

Be sure to stop by the Philadelphia Jewish Voice table in the Hall of Community Organizations to express your Jewish media needs and views to members of our editorial team, and to receive a free Philadelphia Jewish Voice bumper sticker. You will also have the opportunity to buy autographed copies of Rabbi Milgram’s new book Mitzvah Stories: Seeds for Inspiration and Learning, and just-released decks to Mitzvah Cards, in support of LimmudPhilly and the Philadelphia Jewish Voice.

Rabbi Goldie Milgram, our Judaism Editor, will be teaching, among more than 70 amazing presentations scheduled:
Mark your calendars for

  • A cooking demonstration by a James Beard Award-winning chef who will talk about Jewish food around the world
  • A talk on the future of democracy in Israel by a past Deputy Speaker of the Knesset
  • A presentation on the Arab Spring by a media maven and co-author with Dennis Ross of a book on America and the Middle East

More after the jump.

  • A play about the history and absurdity of prejudice and the power of diversity performed by two very funny guys, one Jewish and one black
  • A discussion about the role of Jews in the 2012 presidential election led by the former editor of the Forward and the Jewish Exponent
  • A tap dance lesson set to Jewish themes taught by an artist who trained with Savion Glover and performed with Matisyahu
  • A screening of testimonies from the survivors of Rwanda presented by an Emmy Award-winning producer who trained under Ken Burns
  • An opportunity to hear and sing the new Jewish “soul” music with a local cantor who lived in both Austin, Texas, and Israel

It will all begin on Friday evening with Shabbat dinner and services. Havdalah begins at 8:30 Saturday evening, followed by a concert with the always delightful Maccabeats. There will  be multiple non-stop, simultaneous sessions, so you will have to make some tough choices.

Visit the LimmudPhilly website for further information and to register.

We look forward to learning with you!