When you think of Christmas music, classics such as “White Christmas,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Silver Bells” and “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts roasting)” come to mind. What do they all have in common? They were all written by Jews.
Instead of writing Hanukkah songs, Jewish musicians have appealed to a broader audience by producing Christmas music. “Both Neil Diamond and Barbra Streisand have their own Christmas albums. The No. 1 bestselling Christmas album of all time is from Kenneth Bruce Gorelick, the Jewish smooth-jazz legend Kenny G. American Jews have always produced a lot of holiday music, just not Chanukah music,” writes Maatisayu, the Hasidic reggae musician (with Simcha Levenberg) in an essay for NPR.
Maatisayu points out that while Amazon.com has 48,322 Christmas albums for sale, they feature only 212 Chanukah CDs. It’s not that Amazon is biased against Jews. Rather, there’s just not a lot of Hanukkah music out there. The classic (but annoying) Dreidel song (“I had a little dreidel. I made it out of clay.”) is pretty much the only Hanukkah song to catch on over the past 100 years or so.
The result is that Hanukkah is not a very musical holiday. But that’s just fine with me. After all, it’s really just a minor Jewish holiday — not the Jewish version of Christmas. Besides, not everybody has the Hanukkah spirit.
“Is it possible that one day the tide may turn, that Jews and Christians will come together in the studio and start making Chanukah music? Will we ever get to hear Drake and Rihanna’s hit single, “Chanukah’s Sexy Love Lights”? Maybe, but it would take a real Chanukah miracle,” writes Maatisayu.
In the meantime, we’ll have to make do with the Dreidel song, as well as seasonal (but non-denominational) winter classics like “Frosty the Snowman” and “Winter Wonderland.” Maatsiyahu is also hoping that his Hanukkah song “Miracle” will take off. Check it out for yourself and decide. Personally, I like it a lot better than the Dreidel song.