11 Great, Modern Hanukkah Songs
Can you name any Hanukkah songs beyond the cutesy "I Have a Little Dreidel" and Adam Sandler's famous (and slightly inappropriate) "Chanukah Song"? In fact, when it comes to Jewish holidays, Hanukkah boasts plenty of great tunes - you just don't know them yet! Listed in no particular order, here's a sampling of the best and brightest new Hanukkah music.
1. "The Dreidel Song," by Julie Silver
Beloved Jewish singer/songwriter Julie Silver's bluesy, folksy guitar rendition is a lux take on the kiddie song you've been humming your whole life. This is "The Dreidel Song" like you've never heard it before!
2. "The Latke Song," by Debbie Friedman
If latkes could talk, what would they tell us? In this fun, funny tune, the late Debbie Friedman channels everyone's favorite Hanukkah food - and even conveys a message of social justice in the process.
3. "Eight Nights of Joy," by Rabbi Joe Black
"From the streets of Tel Aviv to Chicago, Illinois," Jewish people worldwide tell the story of Judah Maccabee and celebrate the festival of Lights. This Reform rabbi's fun, upbeat tune, performed with the fantastically talented Maxwell Street Klezmer Band, is the title track to his Hanukkah album.
4. "Pass the Candle (From Left to Right)" by Michelle Citrin
Which way to do we light the Hanukkah candles? Michelle Citrin will remind you! Her clear voice and this song's dancy beat will ensure you never forget the correct way to light a menorah.
5. "Dreidel Bird," by The Macaroons
I have a little dreidel…bird? The Macaroons' "Dreidel Bird" doesn't necessarily make sense, but it's still pretty fun - and so is the video of colorful, spinning, flying dreidels!
6. "To Be a Light," by Dan Nichols and E18hteen
"I want to know what it means to be a light…'cause nothing burns deeper than the fires of regret," sings beloved Reform rocker Dan Nichols about taking the themes of Hanukkah to heart in this original tune. No video available for this one, but you'll love it.
7. "The Candles of Chanukah," by SoulAviv
This song's smooth, velvety vocals and luscious four-part arrangement will warm you up on cold Hanukkah nights. Their newest album, "Soul Service," features beautiful, moving renditions of old favorites like "L'cha Dodi" and "Adon Olam."
8. "Miracle," by Matisyahu
This beatboxing-infused, reggae slow-jam by Orthodox alt-rocker Matisyahu is a staple on Jewish Rock Radio come Hanukkah season. "Just livin' in the miracle / Candles are my vehicle / Eight nights, gonna shine invincible."
9. "In These Lights," by Josh Nelson
No video for this one, either, but in this song, high-energy Jewish rocker Josh Nelson tells the story of the Festival of Lights. "In the legend of our victory, a hero came to see us free, to bring us peace at last."
10. "How Do You Spell Channukkahh?" by The LeeVees
This Guster-spinoff Jewish rock band wants to know the answer to a question we asked in a blog post! They beg, "Can someone decide? / Make up your mind!" (Plus, it's not every day you hear a Hanukkah song that includes the word "antidisestablishmentarianism.")
11. "Mi Yimalel," by Craig Taubman
This song, which means "Who can retell?" in English, has a clappable beat and an old-world feel. Even if you don't understand the words, you'll find yourself swaying and toe-tapping along.