One more for Hanukkah! This might be the most popular contemporary Hanukkah song with over 15 million YouTube views since it was released 20 years ago by The Maccabeats. It has since become a mainstay in Jewish religious education and music classes for its hip retelling of the Maccabean rebellion against the Greeks and the customs surrounding the observance of the Miracle of the Temple Lamp.A hip retelling if the story of the Maccbees who whooped Seleucid Greek ass and reconquered Jerusalem after a long, bloody war. Hanukkah celebrates the miracle of the Temple Lamp burning for eight days although only one day's worth of ritually purified oil was on hand.
Candlelight was the first of what became annual holiday videos by The Maccabeats, then students at the Orthodox Yeshiva University in New York City. The 14 member a cappella group was organized by Julian (Chaim) Horowitz in 2007. By 2010 the were in the university’s graduate school when they released their first CD, Voices from the Heights which was underwritten by a grant from the school. The album initially sold only 5,000 copies but their Hanukkah video attracted two million hits in its first ten days. The group was invited to sing at both the Israeli Knesset and twice at Barack Obama’s White House.
Now all graduated, members married, started secular careers, and moved all over the country but they continue to meet virtually weekly to rehearse and record. A quartet of the members makes personal appearances.
In 2015 they released an EP collection of their first five Hanukkah songs, A Maccabeats Hanukkah.All 14 members of the Orthodox Jewish a capella group The Maccabeats.
Candlelight is a parody of Mike Tompkins’ a cappella music video for Taio Cruz’s Dynamite. The video was directed by fellow Yeshiva student Uri Westrich who left medical school to pursue a career in filmmaking and continues to direct all of The Maccabeats’ videos.