Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Wacky Video about Chanukah

Little did I know that Senator Orren Hatch of Utah (Mormon) was such a big fan of Chanukah. He apparently has written a Chanukah song that was recorded in New York (sung by a Syrian-American singer). I'll reserve judgment on the song; I just love the idea that the Senator wrote it. Also, check out his necklace on the video.
It's also worthwhile to note Jeffrey Goldberg's comments about Chanukah in the article about the song. He writes,
Hatch said he hoped his song would be understood not only as a gift to the Jewish people but that it would help bring secular Jews to a better understanding of their own holiday. “I know a lot of Jewish people that don’t know what Hanukkah means,” he said. Jewish people, he said, should “take a look at it and realize the miracle that’s being commemorated here. It’s more than a miracle; it’s the solidification of the Jewish people.”
He’s right. Without Judah Maccabee’s militant intervention in 167 BCE, the Syrian program of forced Hellenization might have brought about a premature end to the Jewish story. But, for such a pivotal figure, Judah Maccabee is one of the more misunderstood leaders in Jewish history. He was not, for one thing, a paragon of tolerance. One of contradictions of Hanukkah—an unexplored contradiction in our culture’s anodyne understanding of the holiday—is that the Maccabee brothers were fighting not for the principle of religious freedom but only for their own particular religion’s freedom. Their understanding of liberty did not extend even—or especially—to the Hellenized Jews of Israel’s coastal plains. The Maccabees were rough Jews from the hill country of Judea. They would be amused, if they were capable of amusement, to learn that their revolt would one day be remembered as a struggle for a universal civil right.
On the one hand, it's a tragedy that a Mormon Senator from Utah is teaching Jews about the religious and spiritual nature of Chanukah. But it's also incredible - and truly American phenomenon. I emailed Hatch, thanking him for not the song so much, but his continued support for Israel. (He's a co-sponsor of pending legislation for tougher sanctions on Iran. Very important stuff.) Enjoy the song - or at least what it represents. And then go and teach your children an authentic Chanukah song.