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Light of Day

Yisroel Besser

As modern-day musical shluchim from sunny California, Shmuli and Bentzi Marcus of 8th Day didn’t originally aim to carve out a contemporary niche within the heimish music world. True to their Chabad upbringing, their English-language rock style with its soul-speak lyrics was meant to target secular Jewish teenagers. That their music has captured a mainstream following might tell us something about ourselves — how we all want to connect with their message, their depth, and their indomitable spirit.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

It was backstage at a HASC concert a few years back, and Shmuli Marcus and his brother Bentzi — the duo known as 8th Day — had just come off stage. They were sipping from water bottles as we chatted, and I mentioned that as an admirer of their music, I hoped they would appear in the magazine some day. “Yeah, I know you do,” Shmuli said. “You’re going to put us in a Purim issue, right?” There was an edge to his voice, even as the large trademark smile never wavered. I got it. We’re not clowns, a couple of cute chassidim who jump around on stage and make you laugh, he was saying. There’s something serious here too. You need to see what we’re really selling. That was years ago. As it turns out, conflicting travel schedules have delayed our meeting throughout the long winter, and it’s just before Purim that we finally do meet on a cold Crown Heights morning. Alas, a Purim article it will be. But not the Purim of levity and jokes: to me, their music reflects the hidden Purim, the concealed holiness, the potency beneath the cheery surface. “We understand that the music is fun,” Shmuli says. “It’s great if it makes you clap or dance (or hooleh, or bounce, or jump, for that matter), but we’re hoping you’ll think and feel as well.”

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