What I Dread This Hanukkah

Tacky 'Spin the Dreidel' Videos May Go Viral Again

Boys Only: The Maccabeats are a boy band in more ways than one. There are no women in their ‘Candlelight’ video that took YouTube by storm last year.
Boys Only: The Maccabeats are a boy band in more ways than one. There are no women in their ‘Candlelight’ video that took YouTube by storm last year.

By Amy Klein

Published November 29, 2011, issue of December 09, 2011.
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Remember when the most annoying part of the holiday season was the fact that jack o’ lanterns had barely made it into pumpkin pies before the radio started playing “Jingle Bells”?

For Jews it seems there’s something new to dread this holiday season, besides drowning in Christmas jingles and a barrage of Santa commercials: the religious YouTube video.

Last year it was The Maccabeats’ “Candlelight.” The Yeshiva University students’ a cappella Jewish remake of the catchy pop hit “Dynamite” (“I flip my latkes in the air sometimes/ Singin’ ay oh/ Spin the dreidel”) got more than 6 million hits and landed the boy band on CNN, “Good Morning America” and even at the White House.

So, what kind of Grinch doesn’t like The Maccabeats? It’s like someone not liking Disney World, chocolate or, or Christmas.

As a formerly religious Jew, I’ve got nothing against Christmas. I don’t feel left out. I don’t feel the need to make the minor holiday of Hanukkah compete with the Yuletide. To me, this seasonal consumer blitz is no more a religious Christian holiday than Thanksgiving, so I feel no defensiveness at the extravaganza; in fact, given the cold and dark of the East Coast, I rather appreciate the copious goodwill and winter cheer.

My antipathy toward The Maccabeats — those sheyne yinglekh, as my grandmother would have said, using the Yiddish term for “sweet boys” — isn’t personal. The college students were responsible for a fine production: The tunes they chose to rewrite are catchy, the lyrics are proficient and their voices are melodic.

But they’ve spawned an entire line of religious YouTube videos I find an embarrassment — no, a shonda! — for the Jewish people.

There’s “Shakin’ the Lulav (Sukkot Song),” to the tune of “Twist and Shout,” with 18,000+ views; “Rosh Hashanah Rock Anthem,” to the tune of LMFAO’s dance hit “Party Rock Anthem,” with almost 1.4 million views; and “Ofn Tish: Chagaga!!” sung to the tune of Lady Gaga’s “Love Game,” with 223,000+ views. Instead of Gaga’s “Let’s have some fun/ This beat is sick/ I wanna take a ride on your disco stick,” it’s “Let’s have some fun/ This cholent is delicious/ I wanna have a taste of your Shabbos knishes.”

Then there’s “I’ve Got a Feeling (The Shabbat Song),” sung to the tune of the Black Eyed Peas song (309,000+ views) and Ein Porat’s “Dip Your Apple — Fountainheads Rosh Hashanah” (almost 2 million views).


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