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Lin-Manuel Miranda and the cast appear onstage at the opening night curtain call for ‘Hamilton’ at the Pantages Theatre on August 16, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.Kevin Winter/Getty Images
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Lin-Manuel Miranda Rocked Hebrew Solos as a Member of His College’s Jewish A Cappella Group. Listen to the Full Tracks.

Before ‘Hamilton,’ there was the Wesleyan University Mazel Tones

by
Yair Rosenberg
February 27, 2018
Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Lin-Manuel Miranda and the cast appear onstage at the opening night curtain call for 'Hamilton' at the Pantages Theatre on August 16, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Lin-Manuel Miranda, the celebrated singer and composer behind Hamilton, In The Heights, and most recently, Moana, has many well-known links to the Jewish community. In 2009 at age 29, long before he was a household name, Miranda became the youngest person ever to be awarded an honorary degree by Yeshiva University, where his mother is an assistant professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. (In 2016, Miranda even narrated a fundraising video for the school.) In 2010, Miranda went viral when he surprised his wife at their wedding with a performance of “L’Chaim” from Fiddler on the Roof, one of his favorite musicals.

But until this weekend, few knew that Miranda’s Jewjitsu went all the way back to his days as an undergrad at Wesleyan University. As it turns out, Miranda was a member of the college’s Jewish a cappella group, the Mazel Tones. And we have proof.

On Sunday, current Mazel Tones member Lisa Stein posted to Twitter a 15-second excerpt of Miranda from one of the group’s albums, which the singer promptly retweeted. Now, thanks to Stein, we can present the two full tracks from the 2000 Mazel Tones compilation featuring the Hamilton star.

In the first song, Miranda rocks a Hebrew solo in the Israeli classic “Hinei Ba Hashalom” (“Here Comes Peace”). He even nails the notorious ‘chhh’ sound when singing “mi-mizrach le-ma’arav” (“from east to west”). In the second track, Miranda and the Mazel Tones men break down “The Five Book Strut,” an American Jewish jingle about the books of the Torah. “Exodus” and “Deuteronomy” never sounded so hip.

Listen to both songs below:

So, is there a Maccabeats-Miranda collaboration in the cards? We can only hope.

Yair Rosenberg is a senior writer at Tablet. Subscribe to his newsletter, listen to his music, and follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

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