Last night, at sundown, the Jewish winter holiday of Chanukah (or Hanukkah, or Chanuka) began. Weirdly, despite being the holiday where gifts are given, it’s not a huge deal to the Jews, unlike Passover, but it’s still a Jewish holiday, celebrating the victory of the Jews over the invading Greeks and the miracle of the oil in the temple. However, Jewish reggae artist Matisyahu wonders why there aren’t a lot of Hanukkah songs out there, given the prevalence of Jews in music.
As Matisyahu wrote on his NPR story about the issue, “(T)he real reason Jews don’t have more Hanukkah music is that historically, American Jewish singer-songwriters were too busy making Christmas music. ‘White Christmas,’ ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,’ ‘Silver Bells,’ and ‘The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting)’ were all written by Jews. Both Neil Diamond and Barbra Streisand have their own Christmas albums. The No. 1 best-selling Christmas album of all time is from Kenneth Bruce Gorelick, the Jewish smooth-jazz legend Kenny G. American Jews have always produced a lot of holiday music, just not Hanukkah music.”
Weirdly enough, do you know who has a Hanukkah album? Senator Orrin Hatch, from Utah. That’s right, a Mormon songwriter and the senior Senator from Utah has a Chanukah song, which you can download for free from Amazon. After all the Christmas songs written by Jews, it’s about time a Christian returned the favor and wrote a Chanukah song, isn’t it?
Have a happy Hanukkah, my Jewish friends. Be careful when lighting your menorahs!
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