The Conspiracy

It’s So Much “Fun-akkah” to Celebrate Hanukkah


What’s set the kvetchometer off this time, you may ask? It’s not that I have a theological problem with this, but it’s just…a bit strange. Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, a Mormon, has written and performed a Hanukkah song to be released online.

When I first heard the news, I thought it a bit strange. Looking more deeply into the matter, I think that the song Hatch wrote and performed for Tablet magazine is a positive incentive for Jewish Hanukkah traditions.

Many Christian children are brought up learning the caroling traditions and songs that have been around for more than a century. Favorites like “Jingle Bells,” “Santa Baby,” “Deck the Halls,” and “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” are pop culture staples during the winter seasons. But what do we have in terms of popular songs to celebrate our winter festivities? Not many.

Take about a minute and try to brainstorm all the Hanukkah holiday tunes you can muster. When you’re done, count them back. To be frank, the only one I could think of was Adam Sandler’s famous “Hanukkah Song.” As a teenager who grew up watching the schticks of comedians like Jerry Seinfeld and Sandler, the jokes in Sandler’s song about Jewish delis and O.J. Simpson struck a familiar chord. However, Sandler’s song became famous because of both his humorous approach and its framework that is structured around Christmas carols. Indeed, the song opens, “This is a song, that, uh; there’s a lot of Christmas songs out there, but not too many about Hanukkah.” Sandler wrote the song precisely because we have few Hanukkah tunes to jam to while lighting the menorah.

The Jewish Daily Forward recently chronicled some of the best-known Hanukkah songs. After skimming the article, I realized that I recognized almost none of the names. But, when I read the Forward article, I realized just how few songs kids today have that celebrate Hanukkah. How many Hebrew schools teach children to sing “The Ballad of Judah Maccabee” or “Count the Candles”? Those songs might be a bit old, but do we have anything else? I think that we could stand for a revival of Hanukkah tradition.

The singing tradition is one that brings families together on the holidays. The tradition of carols and holiday-themed songs are ones that I imagine many families cherish. I would have loved to sing with my family when I was younger about latkes and menorahs, but I just heard the traditional Hanukkah story. It would have been much more interesting as a child had it been set to music.

By no means do I think we need to compete with Christmas carols or produce that magnitude of music to celebrate our holiday. I do think, however, that the singing practice at holiday-time is a great one that I would love to emulate. Who wouldn’t love singing about latkes and dreidels?

The fact that Orrin Hatch took it upon himself to write and perform a Hanukkah song is an incentive to Jews everywhere to step it up a notch. Maybe his song will become a staple on Hanukkah for some families. Also, who doesn’t love music? If it’s our faith, let’s jam with it! Chronicle your favorite Hanukkah memories, traditions, and the holiday’s history into a little ditty that your family can sing every year.


2 Older Responses to “It’s So Much “Fun-akkah” to Celebrate Hanukkah”

  1. Funny Christmas Songs
    December 10, 2009 at 9:22 pm #

    You not going to believe it but I have spent all day digging for some information about this. You’re a lifesaver, it was a fantastic read and has helped me out to no end. this is my site by the way (if you are interested) – <a href="—Groove-King-Senseless

  2. ben
    December 10, 2009 at 10:00 pm #

    Try Hanukkah in Santa Monica by Tom Lehrer

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