Taio Cruz’s song “Dynamite” was a hit, but hum the tune amongst Jews and you may be treated to a sing-along of “Candlelight.”
As music video director for the Maccabeats (the Yeshiva University a cappella group), Uri Westrich is responsible for the most popular contemporary Chanukah song since Adam Sandler’s novelty classic.
The video, which has over 5,000,000 views on YouTube, was featured in news outlets around the world, and has been enjoyed by Jews and non-Jews alike.
The newest video of the “Purim Song” (to the tune of Pink’s “Raise Your Glass”), is also a hit, and spreads the message of a less-well known holiday.
Despite appearing in both videos, Westrich is not a singer or an official Maccabeat. In fact, he had already graduated from YU when he made “Candlelight.”
Directing has long been a hobby of Westrich’s, and his other works include the earlier Maccabeats music video for a cover of Matisyahu’s “One Day,” and the satirical sketch, YU Boys Will Be Stern Girls.
Westrich also recently filmed a promotional video for cantor Yitzchak Meir Helfgot’s concert with Itzhak Perlman during a rehearsal in Perlman’s home. He is proud of the work he has done, particularly on its effect on the Jewish community.
“‘Candlelight’ showed that Orthodox Jews can be normal and have fun,” says Westrich, “And people who aren’t Orthodox or aren’t even Jewish can still relate to them and enjoy the video.”
Westrich has received e-mails from all over the world telling him that “Candlelight” made them proud to be Jewish. “I feel very lucky to be a part of it,” he says.
Brains, too: Westrich was valedictorian of Yeshiva College; he graduated with a bachelor’s in economics in 2009.