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Nov 7 2014

The Maccabeats Came to Oklahoma–And Changed My Son’s Life

By at 12:23 pm

the maccabeats out of the box

Throughout my pregnancy, I couldn’t wait to sing to my baby. I collected songs, carefully choosing the soundtrack of his first year before he was even born. My son was a happy baby who laughed at everything. So it took a long time to realize that he was not a music fan. His second full sentence turned out to be, “No sing, Mama!” but he had to repeat it many times until I understood. It turns out, my son is very sensitive to sound, and the sounds of music are often too much for him.

I doubt that I could have stopped forcing music on my boy if fate had not intervened. Shortly after his 1st birthday, stress stole the music from my own heart. I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and during my 15-month treatment course, I lost my ability to work, my home, all my savings, and eventually, my marriage. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 7 2013

How the Maccabeats Helped Me Breastfeed

By at 5:02 pm
the maccabeats

Via Flickr/NewYorkBrass


Like so many of us, my love for The Maccabeats started innocently enough with their “Candlelight” YouTube hit.

But now my passing admiration has blossomed into a much deeper and holistic appreciation of their music and purpose.

Coming from the deep southwest, we simply don’t have many (any?) Jewish musical groups to speak of. The whole concept of a Jewish boy band or a cappella group was entirely foreign to me until I heard The Maccabeats sing in their matching white shirts and yarmulkes.

My non-Jewish husband was so entertained by their Hanukkah video; he went so far as to purchase their album and surprised me with it. When he blasted it out, I remember hot tears of joy streaming down my cheeks. I had never heard Lekhah Dodi sound so beautiful. Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 19 2013

The Maccabeats do Les Mis, Passover Style

By at 2:04 pm

Because one Les Misérables-themed Passover video on our blog is clearly not enough, we’d also like to share this brand new video from everyone’s favorite Jewish a cappella group, The Maccabeats! You never realized Les Mis had so much to do with Passover, did you?

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Dec 9 2011

Mayim’s Miracle Maccabeats Debut

By at 11:37 am

mayim bialik maccabeats videoI have written and spoken frequently about my passionate disapproval for children being actors. I have also written and spoken freely about my passionate support and possibly inappropriate adoration-bordering-on-obsession for the Yeshiva University a cappella group, The Maccabeats, whose “Candlelight” video released last Hanukkah has close to 6 million hits on YouTube and garnered them an audience with President Obama, interviews on the national news, and singing engagements all over the world into the next decade when many of them may be graying and middle-aged (but will still be adorable and wonderful, mind you).

This Hanukkah, my friends, my passions will intersect, as my two sons (The Maccabeats’ #2 and #3 fans, me being #1) appear with me in a cameo in The Maccabeats’ new Hanukkah video set to Matisyahu’s song, “Miracle.”

How did I get involved?

Since I gushed about The Maccabeats all over Facebook, Twitter and Kveller last Hanukkah, I have sparked an off-camera friendship with the Maccabeats. This friendship and sort of “observant Jewish celebrity kinship” has been intimately gratifying and has led me even further into the world of traditional Jewish study, Modern Orthodoxy, and spiritual growth. In this sense, being asked to be a part of this video was a very intimate and personal thrill.

Even if I did not know them personally, though, being asked to be in this video the way they have asked me is conceptually very important as well. The Maccabeats’ first and second videos did not feature women, and they have come under some pretty aggressive and, in my opinion, bitter and vindictive attacks by many in the non-Orthodox world who have accused them of favoring men and keeping “their” women locked up and covered ankle to wrist. Their third video showed men and women praying and celebrating the Jewish New Year equally, separated in synagogue as is prescribed by Jewish law, and the Maccabeats have wisely avoided defending their love for women and the various appropriate and fulfilling interactions they can and do have with women.

I am shown in the video studying from the Tanakh (the book containing the Torah, Prophets, and Writings). Women do that, you know. We also have a lot of control over our bodies, our interactions with men, and our choices. Many traditional women find it empowering to have limits to what people see of us and although we may be “limited” in some public arenas that outsiders might see as severely problematic, we are free to study and grow and develop “just like men.” This intellectual and philosophical growth allows us the identical potential and beauty of any man and–some would agrue–the potential for even more beauty because of our uniqueness as women. Needless to say, I am thrilled to be shown studying Tanakh in this video. And although my little crocheted hat looks a bit like a kippah from some angles, IT’S NOT a kippah, ok?

How did my kids get involved?

The video features families and Maccabeats alike lighting the hanukiah and I was asked if my boys would participate. You see, women are valued greatly in traditional Jewish circles for many things, but being a mother and wife rank high on the list. With an emphasis on women as leaders of the home and the ones who dictate the tone and rhythms of the home and family, the Maccabeats felt strongly that I be seen not only as a celebrity, and not only as a woman who studies traditional text, but also as a woman who embraces the role of being a mother. Read the rest of this entry →

May 20 2011

What I Learned on Spring Break

By at 1:26 pm

Photo by Denise Herrick Borchert

Last night, the season finale of “The Big Bang Theory” aired on CBS and the taping for the show wrapped up a few weeks ago. I took advantage of that fact and organized a jaunt to the East Coast and Kentucky. More on that here

Here’s is what I learned during that trip:

1. No matter how cute and comfortable they seem, no sandal should be walked around in for an entire day in Manhattan. Said sandal will cause deep festering blisters that will make you limp for days after.

2. If you are on “The Big Bang Theory,” it’s not fun when your airline shows “The Big Bang Theory” on the plane.

3. Hanging out with Yeshiva University Maccabeats who are 10 years younger than you will make you feel very, very old. From the technology they have seemingly implanted into their yarmulke-covered heads to their giggles when you say you haven’t seen {insert name of 21st century PG-13 movie here}, there’s just not much about this kind of interaction to make you feel current or hip. But, gosh, are they sweet.

4. Unlike in Los Angeles, meetings in Manhattan do not need to have flashy presentations, tuchus-lekking attendants, fancy water glasses, nor false flattery to be productive, efficient, and enjoyable. To those who organized my office and Simon & Schuster editorial/sales/marketing meetings: you get an A+!

5. In some places such as Bethlehem, PA and Teaneck, NJ, there are no vegan restaurants. You sometimes have to make do with veganizing Asian food as your main sustenance. However, all it takes is one fantastic vegetarian place in Louisville, KY called Zen Garden to restore your faith in your dietary choices, your palate, and–yes–humanity.

6. There is not better bagel to be procured than the bagels you can procure in New York.

7. Having a runny-nosed toddler on a plane is generally not good, except when that toddler is so exhausted from being sick that he naps on you for a record 2 1/2 hours. And then a sick toddler is quite good on a plane.

8. Much as meltdowns in security lines, on busses, in museums, in restaurants, in bathtubs and in elevators build character, there is nothing lacking in a trip where neither of your children has a meltdown for all 8 days that you are away.

9. Children are highly distracted on vacation and enjoy (for example) sticks and airplane straws more than one thinks they ought to. Which brings me to the last lesson gleaned from my vacation:

10. There is no place like home. Which is exactly why I can’t wait to travel again in two weeks.


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