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Chave a Chappy Chanuka!
December 6, 2009 3:57 PM   Subscribe

Chanuka (which starts this Friday evening) is more than just the Dreidel Song. Listen to Maoz Tzur from the amazing NY PS 22 (previously) and watch the merry Al Qaeda Dancers or just click on the irritating very dedicated singing candles.

(hattip: Harry's Place)
Previously.
posted by Joe in Australia (55 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
In honor of Hanukkah*, I eat foods cooked in olive oil about every other day.

cHa cHa! that's the one spelling you left out of your tags, Joe in chaustralia!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:07 PM on December 6, 2009


Is 'Chanuka' even one of the ways it's spelled?
posted by gman at 4:09 PM on December 6, 2009


Don't forget Ocho Kandelikas.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 4:13 PM on December 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Link to PS 22 and Al Qaeda are the same,
posted by PenDevil at 4:17 PM on December 6, 2009


Both of your YouTube links go to the same place. The first one should go here.
posted by emelenjr at 4:19 PM on December 6, 2009


Argh. Sorry. Here's the correct link to the Al Qaeda Dancers which is really rather faunny.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:20 PM on December 6, 2009


Yes, it was the PS22 link that was messed up. Sorry, sorry. And it was funny, not faunny, which is not even a word unless you live in Narnia. OK, I'll just go and have a lie down.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:22 PM on December 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Man, I really want to provide a link to a good recording of Benedetto Marcello's Maoz Tzur, which is haunting and gorgeous, but everything is either horrendously out-of-tune or accompanied by human beatboxing. Oh, well.
posted by palliser at 4:31 PM on December 6, 2009


Hannuka is a minor Jewish holiday that's been played up because it is very hard to be a Jew and bot be jealous of Christmas, which, at its best, is a genuinely awesome holiday. All Hannukah really has going for it is that you can gamble on it, but the songs suck, the menorah (or hannukia, as it is properly called) because a chore rather a pleasure, and there isn't a single really great Hannuka film. The great Jewish holiday is Purim, on which we're actually expected to get drunk, but that's not a kid's holiday so we have pumped up this little thing into a gift-giving day so that our little anklebiters don't go around telling non-Jewish children that there is no Santa in a jealous rage.

Me, I'm going to do what I do every year during this season -- light a Christmas tree, drink rum and egg nog, cry when I watch It's a Wonderful Life, drink some more when I watch my favorite Christmas movie (The Thin Man), exchange gifts wrapped in Christmas wrapping, and go out to movies and Chinese food on Christmas Day, which is the actual way Jews celebrate this holiday, even if they don't like to admit it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:50 PM on December 6, 2009 [13 favorites]


so that our little anklebiters don't go around telling non-Jewish children that there is no Santa in a jealous rage.

But this way, we Jews get a better deal. Presents for eight days in a row! Much cooler.

And don't forget the gelt.

(When I was little, a woman asked me what I wanted Santa to bring on Christmas. I politely explained that Santa didn't come to our house.)

We are planning on the traditional Jewish Christmas movie, though. It's the new Sherlock Holmes, so this Jewish Victorianist may suddenly develop an urge to combine Christmas with Purim.
posted by thomas j wise at 5:07 PM on December 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


See, when people say there are no good Chanukah songs, I figure they're the same people who think there's no good Jewish food: those who are only familiar with Ashkenazi versions of either.

ZING

Although actually, there's at least one fantastic Yiddish Chanukah song, Chanukah Likhtelekh, which I again can't find a recording of online.
posted by palliser at 5:10 PM on December 6, 2009


it is very hard to be a Jew and bot be jealous of Christmas, which, at its best, is a genuinely awesome holiday.

It's kind of surprising to me that at least the non-orthodox don't champion a solsticized version of Christmas more.

Although actually, there's at least one fantastic Yiddish Chanukah song...

Agreed
posted by DU at 5:40 PM on December 6, 2009


It's pronounced "Chanucular."
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 5:45 PM on December 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Is this the American Hanukkah or the Canadian one?
posted by cjorgensen at 5:46 PM on December 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Is this the American Hanukkah or the Canadian one?

Yeah, I was going to say. Not just a "specialized" holiday, but 5 days early...
posted by DU at 5:49 PM on December 6, 2009


The mention of Benedetto Marcello and the significance of his Estro poetico-armonico in studies of the history of Jewish music made me think of this: it's not Hanukkah music, but here's a link to the Italian Jewish composer of the Renaissance Salamone Rossi's setting of "Al Naharot Bavel," ("By the Rivers of Babylon"), or Psalm 137.

The collection that contains it (Songs of Solomon, a pun on the composer's name) is historically notable as being the first documentation of Western-style "art" music produced by Jews, for Jews and as Jews. It's a beautiful piece, set in Hebrew, and the way it's notated is interesting: unlike Marcello, who preceded his settings of synagogal melodies with a Hebrew transcription accompanied by music that also reads right-to-left (acceptable because the unadorned transcriptions weren't meant to be performed), Rossi settled on a system whereby the music reads left-to-right, as does the sequence of Hebrew words below; the letters in the individual words still read right-to-left, however, leaving the performer to figure out how to match the syllables to the notes.</nerd>

(Full disclaimer: I'm studying the hell out of this exact topic for a final tomorrow.)
posted by invitapriore at 6:19 PM on December 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Love the tags.

In elementary school, I got marked off for misspelling "Chanukah" on a spelling test. Had to get a letter from my parents to get those points back. I hope that teacher decided to leave it off spelling tests in the future.
posted by ErWenn at 6:33 PM on December 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Beautiful, thank you, invitapriore!
posted by palliser at 6:38 PM on December 6, 2009


My girlfriend and I made holiday cookies last night. Since we're both atheists we only celebrate Christmas by default (we were both raised Catholic) and because it's fun, but the cool part about the holiday season is that you can celebrate whatever you want. And since we didn't have any Christmas-specific cookie cutters we had to improvise.

Metafilter, I give you Herschel the Hanukkah Hippo, Christmas Cthulhu and Kwanzaaceratops.
posted by hifiparasol at 6:41 PM on December 6, 2009 [5 favorites]


It's kind of surprising to me that at least the non-orthodox don't champion a solsticized version of Christmas more.

It's a Saturnalia miracle!

Although the Winter Solstice festival was Bruma not Saturnalia (which was December 17th).
posted by Talez at 6:49 PM on December 6, 2009


Me, I'm going to do what I do every year during this season -- light a Christmas tree, drink rum

In which case you will be celebrating the winter holiday like it has been celebrated for many more than 2009 years. I mean really, were there Christmas pine trees and snow in Israel? It is a freakin European Winter Celebration, when you can't do much farming or hunting so you might as well party.

People say that Christmas isn't about Santa Claus, it is about Christ. In that case I say Santa Claus is up for grabs. They've had no trouble adopting him in many non-Christian nations such as China and Japan (where everyone goes out and gets their KFC for dinner).

So I say the Jews in the US should adopt Santa Claus. Start telling the story about how Santa Claus comes every house on Chanuka bringing presents for all the boys and girls.
posted by eye of newt at 6:58 PM on December 6, 2009


ugh: like it has->as it has
posted by eye of newt at 7:04 PM on December 6, 2009


It's OK if you're agnostic and don't know what to do.
posted by Evilspork at 7:14 PM on December 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Here is the family recipe for Latkes, as transcribed from our family cookbook (distributed to children upon leaving for college) "Mom's Down-Home Cookin' - Mm-mm good!"

Coarse grate potatoes (starchy ones) into a large bowl. Add finely grated onion. Mix with a small amount of eggs, salt, and enough flour to bind.

Fry in hot oil (but not too hot!) Continue to drain liquid from bowl as you cook latkes. Drain on paper towels on pan in warm oven, keeping them all warm until ready to serve. Serve with applesauce (homemade, see Desserts section) and sour cream.
posted by Mizu at 7:35 PM on December 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


The great Jewish holiday is Purim, on which we're actually expected to get drunk, but that's not a kid's holiday

Really? Huh, several of the elements in Purim seem to appeal to the kid-in-all-of-us sense of mischief (costumes, noisemaking, general revelry), so it's surprising to hear that. (Okay, I'll grand you the drinking part is probably not great for the kids.)

Then again, I'm a goy, so I could be very wrong. I just always see lots of families on their way to Purim parties in my neighborhood each year, and all the little girls are all dressed up in their frilliest and fluffiest "princess" dresses because they're in costume as Queen Esther.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:55 PM on December 6, 2009


See, Mizu's recipe highlights what I love and drives me crazy about Jewish recipes, they are never super specific and meant to just highlight the adage of "two Jews, three opinions." How much is a small amount of eggs, and enough flour to bind? Is a kreplach soft and in soup or fried and crispy? Should Matzah Brei be cake like, or choppy like scrambled eggs?* The answer, of course is that all of these options are equally correct, still it doesn't stop people form having knock-down drag out arguments about how the food is properly prepared. I really think it's a fantastic moment of food reflecting the culture it came out of.

*In the case of this one, it was an actual argument my maternal grandparents had, and it really shook the foundations of their then-new marriage. They somehow survived.
posted by piratebowling at 7:58 PM on December 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Christmas works so much better as a secular holiday than a religious one. I wish there were some way to just separate it out entirely.
posted by empath at 8:06 PM on December 6, 2009


I am a Jew, I don't care about Christmas. I never wanted a tree, a stocking, a Santa, none of it. It is not my holiday and while I am always gracious to those who wish me a Merry Christmas, I have never envied my friends their haul on December 25th. Nor have I had eight days of Christmaslike gifts, we always were given fairly modest gifts, a few big ones distributed throughout the week. And now that I am an adult, I consider holidays like this for kids, mainly.

Everyone I know says "their Jewish friends have a tree" but it has never seemed right to me. Maybe if Christmas didn't start with Christ I might feel it, but it does, and I don't.
posted by pinky at 8:12 PM on December 6, 2009 [5 favorites]


Didn't Christmas become a secular holiday the moment it was made a Federal holiday?
posted by scrowdid at 9:11 PM on December 6, 2009


(sorry, got US specific for a moment... typical American!)
posted by scrowdid at 9:13 PM on December 6, 2009


Maybe if Christmas didn't start with Christ I might feel it, but it does, and I don't.

Does it help if we call Christmas Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, or solstice, or Yule, or any of the other dozens of holidays that were on more or less the same day, and shared a lot of the same traditions, and got combined into the mishmash that we call Christmas, on top of which, awkwardly and barely successfully, the church superimposed the birth of Jesus story? Because, as far as I am concerned, Christmas is primarily a folk holiday that was half invented by department stores and soft drinks in order to move produce, and, furthermore, the best Christmas songs were written by Jews. I'm all for Jews taking ownership of the holiday. They have about as much to do so as anybody; certainly as much as the church, which simply tried to steal off with a seasonal event that just about everybody participated in, in one way or another, with the same sort of borrowing and lending of traditions that were rarely explicitly Christian.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:17 PM on December 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Astro Zombie - much as I get what you are saying (isn't the popular conception of Santa based on advertising for Coke?) Christmas just doesn't do a thing for me. Even if I were to take ownership, it would have no history for me, no tradition.

(although my father LOVED A Christmas Story and he very much enjoyed the leg lamp nightlight I gave him for Chanukah.)
posted by pinky at 9:22 PM on December 6, 2009


Then again, I'm a goy, so I could be very wrong.

No, you're not wrong. Purim is the ultimate kids' holiday. The costumes, the graggers, the hamentaschen - what's not to love? Yes, there are also Talmudic (and later) exhortations to "get so drunk you cannot distinguish between Haman and Mordecai," but I've never partaken in that (and I don't know a lot of Jews who do), especially since most of the time Purim is on a weeknight.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 9:33 PM on December 6, 2009


I think the "Purim is for kids" thing is relatively new. Passover traditionally had a lot of roles specifically for children, but Purim was a sort of a safety valve holiday for adults -- old Jewish jokes about Purim are very adult in fact, including the one in which the Jew invites his Rabbi over for Purim, and they both get drunk, and the Jew stabs the Rabbi, and God makes a miracle and the Rabbi comes back to life. So the next Purim, the Jew asks the Rabbi back for Purim again, and the Rabbi says no. "Miracles you can't count on," the Rabbi says. "You getting drunk -- THAT I CAN COUNT ON."

But don't mind me. I'm an Irishman adopted into Judaism, and so my life is a constant tension between having been raised Jewish and only really caring how much alcohol might be available at a holiday event and how the lighting is. And, honestly, the Hannukia is just pathetic compared to Christmas lights, and for the eight days of Hannuka my parents gave me, like, pencils one day, and paper the next, and a pen set the next, and a piece of paper telling me they had planted a tree in Israel the next, and a couple of bookmarks the next, and so on, and we never drank, and so I still have negative feeling regarding the miracle of the olive oil.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:47 PM on December 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ha - I had to go to a professional society's holiday party last year, and they had some hobbyist doctors playing holiday music in a trio. We knew it was time to go because the trio played the same Hanukkah song that they were playing when we arrived. Hanukkah music is truly, truly nothing for us Jews to brag on.

I get in trouble every year with my wants-to-be-a rabbi sister for not celebrating the holiday as a celebration of a miracle. I'm more than okay with Hanukkah as a Jewish Thanksgiving of sorts, but the Maccabees were horrible once they actually took power.
posted by honeybee413 at 9:53 PM on December 6, 2009


The story about the Rabbi is actually from the Talmud. It's funnier the way you tell it, though.

Now that I think about it, the best thing about Purim is that it's only one day long. Every other significant Jewish holiday is at least two days,(*) and three of them are a week or more. I understand that Christmas is technically twelve days long. My congratulations to whoever shortened it - the longer you make a holiday, the less intense it gets, which IMHO is why Chanukah just isn't that exciting.

(*) Shavuot is only one day when celebrated in Israel, but yeah.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:57 PM on December 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've always read the Talmud as a collection of Jewish jokes.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:28 PM on December 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


so that our little anklebiters don't go around telling non-Jewish children that there is no Santa in a jealous rage.

I did this anyway!

Although it wasn't "jealous rage" so much as feeling superior to all those morons who thought a fat old man was shimmying down their chimney (or through a window, I guess, as chimneys are somewhat uncommon in Phoenix) to give them presents every year.

In kindergarten I actually got detention for telling the other kids there was no Santa Claus. At a public school, mind you.
posted by Target Practice at 10:33 PM on December 6, 2009


Pinky, that's exactly how I feel. Maybe it's because I've always been left out (being raised in a Jewish family and now being an atheist), but no matter how much Christians complain about the religious aspect of it being shoved aside, I can't help but see it as exclusively their holiday. To me, celebrating Christmas would be tantamount to getting baptized.
posted by Target Practice at 10:45 PM on December 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Maybe if Christmas didn't start with Christ I might feel it, but it does, and I don't.

I'm an atheist named Christina.

I've definitely shared a few laughs over the irony with those close to me. But I like both my name and Christmas. I get very into the spirit of things and enjoy it as a winter family and friends, cozy getting together and sharing type of holiday. Even if that sharing is simply good food and good company. After all, the original festival around this time of year didn't start with Christ either.
posted by cmgonzalez at 11:09 PM on December 6, 2009


Let's take the Christ out of Christmas!

(from a non-believer who loves Christmas.)
posted by CCBC at 12:11 AM on December 7, 2009


I'm an atheist named Christina.

I'm an agnostic named Samm. Née Samuel. The name is of Hebrew origin, and its meaning is "God heard". Also possibly as "requested of God", "God's heart" or "God's name".

But I like both my name and Christmas. - After all, the original festival around this time of year didn't start with Christ either.

Good point, Christina.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 12:42 AM on December 7, 2009


In elementary school at our All-School Holiday Pageant, I, being the only goy in the first grade, had to stand up and tell the story of Christmas and then sing a carol solo.

Happy Chakakahnukah everyone.
posted by Pollomacho at 4:46 AM on December 7, 2009


I, being the only goy

That goy took my love away
Though he'll regret it someday
This goy wants you back again
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:18 AM on December 7, 2009


Wouldn't this be a more appropriate response to my post flapjax:

Time comes down
You got to take it on yourself
You got to give up your past
You got to give up what came last
World goes round
You got to leave it all behind
You got defeated at last

Little goy blue
With the feelin' in your soul and the gypsy in your eyes
Little goy blue
You got to leave this song behind as it passes by

posted by Pollomacho at 6:38 AM on December 7, 2009


Growing up, I had neighbors who were Jewish. I don't know if they were Orthodox, exactly, but all the cultural trappings of Judaism were present, all the feasts and holidays were celebrated, etc. In December, they celebrated Hanukkah, but they also put up a Christmas tree, and on the 25th they exchanged presents like anyone else, although perhaps not to as big a degree as most families do. They didn't see it as a problem or as being in conflict with their faith. It was a cultural holiday they chose to participate in.

So, Hebrews, why settle for movies and Chinese? Sure, at its roots Christmas is a religious holiday(whether one believes its Christian or Pagan), but millions celebrate it while attaching no religious significance to it at all. It's all good.:)
posted by spirit72 at 6:47 AM on December 7, 2009


they also put up a Christmas tree

No, no silly, that was a Hanukkah Bush!
posted by Pollomacho at 7:09 AM on December 7, 2009


Me, I'm going to do what I do every year during this season -- light a Christmas tree

It's the war on Christmas!

(What do you use? Napalm? My family's pretty Orthodox: Molotov cocktails only.)
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:09 AM on December 7, 2009


My family's pretty Orthodox: Molotov cocktails only.

There's a joke about the Jews being in league with the Soviets in there somewhere, I can feel it.
posted by Pollomacho at 8:16 AM on December 7, 2009


My family's pretty Orthodox: Molotov Mazel tov cocktails only.

FTFY
posted by hippybear at 8:31 AM on December 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


flapjax at midnight , unless you were born a little girl named Samuel, it's "né" Samuel. Also, as the mother of a four-year-old who doesn't like xmas (and the wife of a lapsed Jew) I fear people's reaction when my little girl says, "We don't celebrate Christmas."

This post may be eponstyrical
posted by stinker at 11:21 AM on December 7, 2009


err, eponysterical
posted by stinker at 11:23 AM on December 7, 2009


With all the jokes about it being the Jewish answer to Christmas, I find it especially interesting that Chewbacca Hanukkah has become sort of the official holiday of Jewish assimilation, in the U.S. anyway, given how it supposedly commemorates the victory of the (violent) anti-assimilationist Maccabees over the influence of the Greeks. Combine that with the fact that Christmas itself was grafted onto a pagan holiday and that the whole "festival of lights," eight days of candle-lighting story was tacked on sometime later, and I think the bottom line is: 1) The winter solstice is awesome and scary, and 2) People will find a way to make their holidays fall in line with the solstice, in time and in theme.
posted by albrecht at 11:35 AM on December 7, 2009


flapjax at midnight , unless you were born a little girl named Samuel, it's "né" Samuel.

Thank you for the correction, stinky! :)

Oh, and, unless you're speaking of the hour (and not my username), it's "midnite".
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:21 PM on December 7, 2009


No no, thank you. Two mistakes in a post correcting someone else's mistake = I feel awesome.
posted by stinker at 12:46 PM on December 9, 2009


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