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Behind the scenes at Shabbat UK with the Maccabeats

The JC caught up with Julian Horowitz, a founding member of the group who also acts as its musical director.

    The Maccabeats were guests of honour at Stanmore and Canons Park Synagogue’s Shabbat UK Friday night service.

    The group treated members of the synagogue to a special performance and in return, members hosted the band in pairs over the weekend.

    Watching the group warm up ahead of their Shabbat service, Jeremy and Suzanne Saideman said there was a huge buzz in their house “when we found out they were coming".

    Mr Saideman said: “We’re big fans and my youngest son was so excited to find out we’d be looking after two of them while they’re in the UK.”

    He said the music stars “had no diva demands. They are staying in my eldest's bedroom while she is away for university".

    Watch the Maccabeats' behind the scenes rehersal at Stanmore and Canons Park Synagogue

    Their performance at Saturday night’s Havdalah concert was another highlight of this year’s Shabbat UK.

    The JC caught up with Julian Horowitz, a founding member of the group who also acts as its musical director.

    How important is Shabbat to you? What makes it special?

    If I had to make a list of my top 10 commandments, I’d probably say Shabbat comes in at around four.

    Shabbat is a time to connect with God, connect with community, connect with family, and connect with yourself.

    Were all of you raised religious, or were some of you raised secular? If the latter, how much of a difference has having Shabbat made to your lives?

    Each Maccabeat has had his own unique path in life, but certainly Shabbat has played an important role in each of our stories. Many of us sang for the first time around Shabbat tables or in shul.

    There are likely to be some people taking part in Shabbat UK who find it hard to reconcile Orthodox Judaism and a modern secular lifestyle. What would you say to them?

    I think that some will find it hard. But being hard isn’t really a good reason not to do something.

    Have you specifically done any Havdalah concerts before, or is this a first?

    The Havdalah concert has become part of the “community Shabbat” ritual, and we’ve performed at several of these. I think closing out Shabbat with one last taste of being together before we forge ahead into the working week is a beautiful idea.

    You’ve had a number of hits over the years around the Jewish holidays, but of course, especially around Chanukah time – any hint as to what we might be seeing/hearing this year?

    This will actually be our eighth Chanukah producing a video, so we’re really trying to think of new vistas to explore the same story, themes, and ideas

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