The Jewish and cinematic musings of the Rabbi of The Reform Temple of Rockland in Upper Nyack, New York.
Friday, December 3, 2010
Hanukkah does in deed, Rock!
There was a recent request for better Chanukah music on a thread that I subscribe to. The rationale being, Christmas is kicking Chanukah's butt in the music department. And the truth is, it is. There are a variety of reasons for this. One is Chanukah in the pantheon of Jewish holidays, is a minor festival. The most significant mitzvah with regards to Chanukah (other than eating foods fried in oil), is to place a Chanukiyah (the menorah) in a place that is visible. Gift giving is usually done during Purim.
Also, as strange as it may sound, many Jewish composers have put their time and energy into writing Christmas music. The list includes: "White Christmas" by Irving Berlin, "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" by Johnny Marks, "Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow" by Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne, "Silver Bells" by Livingston and Evans, and "The Christmas Song" (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire) by Mel Torme, who I learned about from watching episodes of Night Court while growing up. (And Neil Diamond, as I was recently reminded of, who has had a number of Christmas hits, but not so many in the Chanukah department).
But perhaps most significantly is Chanukah, though really a festival commemorating the victorious battle for religious freedom, traditionally has not been as important to Jews as Christmas has been for Christians.
All that being said, there is a recent movement afoot to, if not make better music, at least create more fun during this time of year. It really started in my opinion with Adam Sandler and his Hanukkah song originally performed on Saturday Night Live back in the 90s. There has been the album by the Levees entitled “Hanukkah Rocks! - whose songs include Latke Clan and How do you Spell Hanukkah?,” the Barenaked Ladies have some Hanukkah songs on their Barenaked for the Holidays album, Jon Stewart sang “Can I Interest you in Hanukkah” to Stephen Colbert on A Stephen Colbert’s Christmas, and of course there is this year’s viral sensation Candlelight by The Maccabeats
See below for a number of links to these fun new Hanukkah traditions:
Rabbi Sharff is the Senior Rabbi for The Reform Temple of Rockland in Upper Nyack, New York. He was raised in Houston, Texas where he discovered the acoustic and electric guitar while sitting in his dorm room one day. Rabbi Sharff graduated from the University of Texas and was ordained at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati.
Rabbi Sharff is the rhythm guitarist for RTR's in House Band, and he also served as the editor for Howard Salmon's z"l Comic Book Siddur.