Watch: The Maccabeats ‘Cups’ video

The Maccabeats have released their latest video and, as usual, it is the sweetest thing ever.

This time the tribe’s own a cappella group takes on “D’ror Yikra,” singing it to the tune of “Cups” by Anna Kendrick. The rendition is performed around the Shabbat table, at which the kippah-clad boys appear to be playing the nice Orthodox Jewish boy version of a drinking game.

Tune in and hum along — you won’t be able to help it. (And if your screening is preceded by a Red Lobster ad like ours was, you won’t be able to help laughing a little bit, too.)

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White House hosts heritage month festivities [VIDEO]

President Obama hosted a reception for Jewish American Heritage Month.

The reception Tuesday was less formal than the inaugural one last year, with brief remarks and a small Marine Corps band playing klezmer music.

The 300 invitees included “grass-roots Jewish community leaders from across the country, rabbis, Members of Congress, and a broad range of leaders engaged in business, the arts, education, and public and community service,” a White House official said.

Obama in delivering greetings noted the presence of Elie Wiesel, the Nobel Peace laureate and Holocaust memoirist; newly named Democratic National Committee chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), who authored the legislation passed in 2006 initiating the heritage month; Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren; and Supreme Court Justices Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

“The Jewish community in the United States has always stood for freedom, and that includes our unshakeable support and commitment to the security of the State of Israel,” he said.

The Maccabeats, an cappella group launched at Yeshiva University, provided entertainment.

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The Maccabeats – Purim Song [VIDEO]

Based on “Raise Your Glass” by P!nk

Filmed, Directed and Edited by Uri Westrich
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Production assistant – Rivie Shalev
The music in this Maccabeats song is made entirely from their voices and mouths.

Richard Joel, Maccabeats in LA for first YU Shabbaton

With 1,500 alumni in the Los Angeles area, including many rabbinic and educational leaders, Yeshiva University opened its first office here in September hoping to both raise YU’s visibility and offer its services and expertise to the local Orthodox community.

“We want to be able to provide our extensive resources as a large university and as the unique institution that we are to the community at large,” said Sarah Emerson Helfand, an attorney and YU alumna who moved from New York to direct YU’s West Coast regional office.

Helfand said she can help individuals and institutions answer admissions questions, access YU’s speaker’s bureau, or tap into resources from YU’s Center for the Jewish Future or its Institute for University-School Partnership. YU also runs college and high school service learning programs for non-YU students in the U.S., Israel and developing countries.

She will also reach out to parents and alumni to raise funds for YU.

Opening regional offices is part of YU President Richard Joel’s vision of linking the hundreds of Modern Orthodox communities in North America in a common conversation.

“The question is how do you keep communities vibrant, dreaming, aspiring and keeping their hands wide open in friendship to those to our right and our left, while being affirmative in who we are without defensiveness,” Joel said.

Joel believes the regional hubs can create a mutually beneficial “town-gown relationship.”

“What I need from the community is students and resources, and I need to feed back to the community all the ingredients for them to maintain purposeful communities—” inspired students, lay and professional leaders, rabbis and educators, and the resources to develop quality synagogues, school and institutions. “If we do that well we create inspired communities that form what I call sacred synergy.”

Joel will be a headliner at YU’s first Shabbaton in Los Angeles March 3-6, with programs in the Pico-Robertson area, Hancock Park, Valley Village and Westwood.

In addition to Joel, scholars in Los Angeles for the weekend include Rabbi Herschel Schachter, head of YU’s rabbinic seminary; Rabbi Kenneth Brander, David Mitzner Dean of the Center for the Jewish Future; Rabbi Lawrence Hajioff, instructor of Jewish studies at YU; Dr. Rona Novick, associate professor at Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration; and Dr. Efrat Sobolofsky, director of YUConnects.

The biggest draw, however, might be the Maccabeats, YU’s A Capella group whose Chanukah spoof, “Candlelight,” has gotten 4.6 million hits on YouTube. The Maccabeats will meet with high school students, lead Friday night services at Adas Torah in the Pico-Robertson area, daven with Young Israel of Century City Shabbat morning, sing over Shabbat lunch at Beth Jacob, and hold community concerts Saturday night and Sunday morning.

For more information, go to