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Hanukkah Caroling

Dear holiday lovers,

In case you’ve lost track of your  candle-lighting, tonight’s the sixth night of Hanukkah—a.k.a. the Festival of Lights, a.k.a. the Jewish Christmas, a.k.a. an excuse to eat oily, fried foods. Hanukkah sometimes felt like a hard holiday to get into as a kid. I loved the eight days of presents and the chocolate coins, but I didn’t understand the whole Maccabees story and not-so-secretly coveted our neighbors’ Christmas tree. There was, of course, no Charlie Brown Hanukkah special, with a misshapen menorah in place of that scraggly bush. Even in my elementary school choir, we were forced to sing “We wish you a happy Hanukkah” to the tune of “We wish you a merry Christmas,” trading figgy pudding for potato latkes. Honestly.

Of course, Adam Sandler long ago called everyone’s attention to the derth of good Hanukkah tunes. Little did he know there was a veritable smorgasbord of Hanukkah songs just waiting to be sung poorly. Thanks to the wonderful Judaica Sound Archives at Florida Atlantic University, now you can listen to two albums of the 1950s Tell Me About Chanukah! and Hanukkah The Feast Of Lights. Check out their full listing of Hanukkah albums and their holiday mix. (Click the covers below to listen!)

Not to be outdone, the wonderful Idelsohn Society (your source for reissues of the Barry Sisters and offensive “Jewface” recordings) has their own Hanukkah mix, with tracks by Milton Berle and Woody Guthrie. You can see the full album listing here (scroll down…) and listen below.

And last but not least, don’t forget about Tom Lehrer’s kitschy classic, “Hanukkah in Santa Monica,” sung here by Lehrer himself, here by Brandeis U’s Jewish Fella A Capella, and here by a glee club.

Yours in Hanukkah cheer,

Stephen

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