I have been able to say, truthfully, for most of my life that nearly all of my best friends are Jewish. Thus it is with sincerity and enthusiasm that I wish to all a Happy Hanukkah in advance of that festival's commencement at sunset.
For the occasion, some choice seasonal musical oddities.
The Jewish contribution to heavy metal music is underappreciated, but crucial. The very term "heavy metal" is generally reputed to have been first applied as a musical descriptor by Sandy Pearlman, writing in Crawdaddy magazine (about The Byrds, oddly enough). Pearlman went on to groom and oversee the career of the seminal (largely Jewish) metal band, Blue Öyster Cult.For this year's Hanukkah season, New York's Gods of Fire offer Hanukkah Gone Metal, which is exactly that: wild-eyed metal craziness with a Hanukkah theme. What can it hurt? It's even endorsed, more or less, by the Jerusalem Post. Here, a video presentation of the title tune:
More at Brooklyn Vegan.
Meanwhile, Boston's dj BC has compiled a selection of Menorah Mashups,"Crazy Chanukah Mixes and Mashes", including this intermixturization, by FAROFF, of House of Pain's "Jump Around' with a slew of klezmer:
My own particular favorite, however, is this tasty stew of Gwen Stefani and Hava Nagilah:
dj BC - Challahback Girl [MP3 link]
By way of a counterweight to all this frivolous levity (or Levite frivolity?) one might turn to The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg, who complains of "the Adam Sandlerization of Judaism in America" in the course of narrating the amazing true story of how he brought about the creation of a new and entirely serious Hanukkah song at the hand of that noted Jewish Mormon songsmith, United States Senator Orrin Hatch (R - Utah).
Sing it, gang!
Goldberg makes the point that embracing Judah Maccabee, as the Senator has done, as a symbol of universal freedom of belief fudges the historical record just a smidge:
But what is the good of an historical figure, after all, if he or she cannot be remade in our own image?
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.
So light the lights, spin the dreidel, wake in the night wracked with gelt, and all in all have a Happy Hanukkah if you're having any Hanukkah at all.