Thursday, December 22, 2016

Hanuka Songs

As a kid I believe I knew four Hanuka songs:
  • Maoz Tzur (Rock of Ages)
  • Who Can Retell
  • Oh Hanukah, Oh Hanukah
  • The Dreidel Song
Of those, my favorite was Who Can Retell

Who can retell the things that befell us?
Who can count them?
In every age, a hero or sage 
came to our aid.

In days of yore in Israel’s ancient land
Brave Maccabeus led the faithful band
But now all Israel must as one arise
Redeem itself through deed and sacrifice.

Short, simple, and extremely serious for a childhood favorite. Looking back as a parent, I like the emphasis that it is possible to come to the world's aid through wisdom and learning, as well as heroics.

I believe the first Hanuka song I heard outside of these four was Peter, Paul and Mary's Light One Candle. The second was probably Tom Lehrer's Hanukah in Santa Monica. (Though, despite the title, the song mentions several Jewish holidays, and several locations, so it is appropriate for year-round play.)

In recent years, it seems, the pace of new Jewish holiday songs has been increasing exponentially. Especially in the overlapping genres of humor and song parodies. I love humor, but I prefer even the lighthearted song to take the holiday at least somewhat seriously. Adam Sandler now has four versions of his Hanukah Song listing Jewish celebrities "just like you and me." (In my opinion, the sequels seem very redundant after the original. Beating a one-joke horse.)

Following are 8 videos of some of my current favorites

Here's a long list of songs updated annually for the past several years

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