Friday, December 11, 2009

Holiday Jam Countdown '09: Rasheeda Azar featuring Senator Orrin Hatch, "Eight Days of Hanukkah"

Posted By on Fri, Dec 11, 2009 at 9:00 AM

Here's a little known fact: Jews love Christmas. We love the cookies. We love the lights. We love the sappy movies. We spend our childhoods yearning for trees and stockings. (I myself received my first Christmas stocking at the advanced age of 31. I nearly wept with joy.)

We love Christmas so much, we've depleted our holiday-songwriting energy on composing tunes in its honor. "White Christmas" is pretty good, no? And "Merry Christmas (I Don't Want to Fight Tonight)"? They certainly kick ass over the canon of Hanukkah songs.

Yes, there is a canon of Hanukkah songs beyond Adam Sandler's "Chanukah Song". Not that any of those songs are worth listening to, although "Hanukkah, O Hanukkah" is pretty catchy and has been stuck in my head all damned day.

Fortunately, this year Utah Senator Orrin Hatch has stepped in to fill the breach. Although Hatch is a Mormon, he has a longstanding affinity for the Jewish people. He wears a mezuzah around his neck and keeps a Torah in his office, although he admits it's a fake.

"Anything I can do for the Jewish people, I will do," Hatch told The New York Times. "Mormons believe the Jewish people are the chosen people, just like the Old Testament says."

And so this year, Hatch wrote a song called "'Eight Days of Hanukkah." The inspiration came from a conversation with journalist Jeffrey Goldberg, who complained that all Hanukkah music was "dreck." (That's Yiddish for "shit.") Hatch gallantly offered to fill the breach. That was about ten years ago, during Hatch's brief run for President. Last Christmas/Hanukkah, Goldberg mentioned the conversation on his blog for The Atlantic. A day later, Hatch sent him the first part of "Eight Days of Hanukkah".

Actually, he only wrote the lyrics; a Jewish songwriter named Madeline Stone -- who specializes in Christian music -- composed the melody. But does it really matter? Orrin Hatch wrote a song! For us!

And it was recorded. With a music video. With Hatch singing backup! And posted on Tablet, an online Jewish magazine. And it was good! (Well, it was okay. But who are we to complain?) Behold:

Eight Days of Hanukkah from Tablet Magazine on Vimeo.

Read Goldberg's account of this Hanukkah miracle here.


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