FFJD Talks To Buri Rosenberg Of The Maccabeats
When Jewish forces collide: FFJD meets the Maccabeats. It needed to happen sooner or later. Read More
It’s the most FFJD interview ever. Yours truly managed to score an interview with Buri Rosenberg, a (le sigh) engaged NJB from the Maccabeats. In case you weren’t populating planet Earth around the Eight Days of Tiffany & Splendid also known as Hanukkah, also known as Latke Marathon (With Applesauce), here is their viral video of “Candlelight.” Five million people saw it. And one million of them emailed it to me.
Anyway, the Maccabeats are the Yeshiva University acapella group, and on Tuesday they performed at the White House. And on Wednesday, Buri chatted with me about what it’s like being a mayyyjah Jewlebrity and the perils of Internet fame. Read ahead!
FFJD: What was it like singing at the White House?
BR: It was an amazing experience. definitely the coolest thing we’ve ever done. We sang a song by 613, we did Candlelight, the purim song. We did a little mash-up too.
FFJD: Which one are you in the “Candlelight” video?
BR: I’m the guy who lights the menorah.
FFJD: Were you surprised that “Candlelight” went viral like that?
BR: We thought it would go Jewish viral. That was our initial intent. We figured we’d get 3 – 400,00 views tops. Jews always send around these ridiculous pictures or little video clips around the holidays, like “have a Happy Hanukkah, look at this cute picture I found!”
We wanted to be that thing people sent around. The first big place we were found was Huffington Post. Once we were there then it hit a secular crowd and the newstations were coming. We had three million hits by the end of Hanukkah.
FFJD: Do you have rabid fans and get recognized everywhere?
BR: I personally don’t, but the three main soloists and the guy in the astronaut suit, they get recognized all over the place. On the subway people will come up to them and be like “you’re in that latke video.” It’s really fun. We were coming back after being on CNN, walking down the street together.
This guy in a business suit stops us and tells us he was in a meeting in Chicago where they played the video for the entire conference room.
FFJD: Are you single? Do Jewish girls throw themselves at you?
BR: I’m actually engaged, but girls come up to the guys all the time. High school girls go nuts, I’ve never seen anything like it. We just went to a college and after we performed a couple of the girls came up after and asked us out. [They declined].
FFJD: Girls love boys who sing, no?
BR: I’m pretty sure guys love girls that sing too. Serenading.
FFJD: Has a girl’s mom or grandma every tried to set you up?
BR: Yes, definitely. One of the guys, it was really funny, in shul, a woman came over to him and said “I have a great girl for you.”
FFJD: Are you going to do more spoof songs?
BR: We are working on something, and there is a video in the mix, keep watching.
FFJD: What its like being a Youtube sensation?
BR: Its pretty cool. I mean I’m not like one of the superstars, but it’s still definitely a pretty amazing feeling that of all the other [acapella] groups out there, we did it. We get to travel all over the place, like to the White House. This summer we’re being flown to London, South Africa, Israel.
FFJD: Why do you think so many people connected with it the video and it was so popular?
The whole “Candlelight” idea is a fusion between the modern and the ancient. You can still be Jewish, a normal citizen in America, and a part of the tradition.
There were so many facets that made the video work — timing — this year Christmas was farther away from Hanukkah so there was less of a focus on Christmas, everyone could focus on Hanukkah and had eight days to catch on. Matisyahu told us at a performance recently that his kids love our song. We were like, we love your songs!
It’s still hitting us.