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Kid Music Series: The Top 5 Groovin' Hanukkah Songs

Updated on November 4, 2016

Oh dreidel, dreidel, dreidel!

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Party Time: Hanukkah Style

Does your family say 'Ho, hum' to the old Dreidel song and Oh Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah? Need to spice up your party celebrations with a youth-friendly get down groove?

While teaching music during the Holidays, I had a mini-lesson on the meaning of Hanukkah, as well as Christmas, Eid and Kwanza. I always had a class in December in which we sang, played games and played Holiday party music. I wanted to add Hanukkah music to our festive Christmas music that we could dance to.

In my search, I found fantastic performances ranging from pop to folk to reggae. Here are my top 5 for party time: Hanukkah style. GIVE ME A BEAT!

  1. Candlelight - The Maccabeats: This is a song parody based on the melody of Dynamite by Tao Cruz. They not only sing about celebrating Hanukkah in the song, the words teach you about the biblical history of the Maccabee Fighters.
  2. Dreidel - Erran Baron Cohen: This version takes the Dreidel song and puts a Klezmer spin on it (see description of Klezmer music below).
  3. Hanukkah O Hanukkah - Erran Baron Cohen: This song has a little tongue-in-cheek with a rap/reggae edge.
  4. Happy Joyeous Hanukkah - The Klezmatics: The Klezmatics wrote music to accompany Woody Guthrie's poems on Hanukkah.
  5. Spin Dredyl Spin - The Klezmatics: Here's another with lyrics by Guthrie.

The Maccabeats - Candlelight

The Maccabeats are an a capella group made up of former students from Yeshiva University in New York City (It originally started as the University’s choral group). Great singing, great arrangements. They are proof that you can keep traditional religious values while performing in both the popular and traditional choral genre. Most of their performances are for sale on Amazon and iTunes. Unfortunately, I can’t find the audio version of Candlelight on Amazon or iTunes. There may have been licensing issues because the melody is from Dynamite. But then I thought, Al Yankovic does many parodies of famous songs, why not a a pop parody from a choral group?

Well, till they work this out, gear up your youtube and play the video to hear the music through your computer speakers. When this first came out, I listened to it over and over; I couldn’t get enough of it. My students LOVED IT!

Candlelight - The Maccabeats official video

Candlelight, live performance

Erran Baron Cohen - Songs in the Key of Hanukkah

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Which Baron Cohen?

The composer Erran Baron Cohen is not only a talented music producer, but he likes to stir things up. In 2008, he made an album of reggae influenced Hanukkah Music. The songs feature the singer Jules Brookes and Rapper Y-Love.

Notice a familiar face in the video? Thats Erran's little brother Sacha. Sacha Baron Cohen is a famous actor and comedian (Hugo, Borat, Les Miserables). Always pushing the edge, Cohen's career stems from serious acting to comedic buffoonery.

Erran Baron Cohen - Songs in the Key of Hanukkah

Erran Baron Cohen Presents: Songs In The Key Of Hanukkah
Erran Baron Cohen Presents: Songs In The Key Of Hanukkah

Includes the songs Dreidel and Hanukkah Oh Hanukkah.

 

Dreidel: Songs in the Key of Hanukkah - Erran Baron Cohen

The Charismatic Klezmatics

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The Klezmatics

Happy Joyous Hanukkah

The Klezmatics are a dynamic klezmer group that combines old Jewish folk songs with more modern music. In this album, they take little-known poems by Woody Guthrie that are about Hanukkah and put them to melody. These two are my favorite.

Happy Joyeous Hanukkah - Klezmatics

Western Ukraine Klezmer Group in 1912

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A Brief Description of Klezmer Music

Klezmer Music originated in Eastern Europe. Basically this boisterous music (usually instrumental) is played for Weddings and other celebrations. This music is very danceable. The modern American klezmer music has a Yiddish folk song and jazz influence. Modern instrumentation includes: violin, clarinet or saxophone, accordion, electric guitar and minimal percussion.The style includes the instrumental version of the human voice crying or exclaiming (the clarinet wail).

Groovin' O Hanukkah

Klezmer Musicians in New Orleans 2009

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Conclusion

Even if you are not Jewish and don't celebrate Hanukkah, these songs are still fun to listen to. I've played the Maccabeats video so many times I can't keep count. Think about adding these selections for your next Holiday party or family get together.

Comments Welcome

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    • LindaSmith1 profile image

      LindaSmith1 2 years ago from USA

      I love the Klezmatics. I have no idea what the words are, but I still love to hit you tube and listen to them.

    • Kim Milai profile image
      Author

      Kim Milai 3 years ago

      @WriterJanis2: Thank you for stopping by. This music is so much fun.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 4 years ago

      What great music.