A Comprehensive Guide To The Best Hanukkah Songs Of All Time by the Forward

A Comprehensive Guide To The Best Hanukkah Songs Of All Time

“There are no good Hanukkah songs!”

Friends, Assyrian-Greeks, countrymen — we need to put this nasty rumor to rest. No, we’ll never have the sheer corporate bandwidth or people power of Christmas, but we don’t need to. We have our own dirge-like classics, anthropomorphic food songs, kiddy jams, and religious hymns!

Here they are, categorized in genres with YouTube links. A Spotify playlist (slightly edited due to availability) is down below.

Have a happy, happy, happy, happy Hanukkah. Happy Hanukkah!

Modern Classics

All the hits from the diaspora.
I Have A Little Dreidel - Samuel S. Grossman & Samuel E. Goldfarb
I Am A Latke - Debbie Friedman
Pass the Candle — Michelle Citrin
Hanukkah In Santa Monica — Tom Lehrer
Hanukkah Blessing — Barenaked Ladies
Judah Maccabee - Safam

Hebrew Classics

The songs that make it feel like Hanukkah.
Maoz Tzur/Rock of Ages - A 13th century classic.(We’re partial to this sweeping Maccabeats version. We also love this incredible Ashkenazi take by Cantor Pinchos Borenstein.)
Mi Yimalel - Based on Psalms 106:2. (Here’s a gorgeous version by singers from Boys Town Jerusalem, and a great cover by The Weavers.)
Ner Li - A traditional Israeli Hanukkah song. (This beautiful rendition is by Abigail Lapell and Laura Spink.)
Al Hanisim - Lyrics derived from the traditional Hanukkah liturgy. (Here’s a classic 70’s-era version.)
Sevivon Sov Sov Sov - Israel’s favorite dreidel song. (Here’s Israeli artist Dafna’s take on the song.)
Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah - People expect this one, which was originally written in Yiddish. (Here’s the over-the-top cover from the TV show “Glee.”)
Hanerot Hallalu - From a chant in the Talmud (Soferim 20:6,) the title means “We Light These Lights.” (Gershon Sirota, the world-famous cantor who performed at Carnegie Hall and died in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, leads this version.)

Yiddish Classics:

Every Hanukkah song sounds better in Yiddish.
Chanukah, Oy Chanukah - (Here’s the original! Sung by the great Theodore Bikel.)
Borekh-ate - A gorgeous choral number by Solomon Golub and Abraham (Avrom) Reisen. (Performed by the Jewish People’s Philharmonic Chorus.)
Drei Dreidel - A Yiddish bop. (Here’s the iconic Cantor Moshe Oysher singing it.)
Ikh bin a kleyner dreydl - The famous “I Have A Little Dreidel” was possibly first written in Yiddish.

Pop Hits

The coolest Hanukkah songs written in the last 1,000-or-so years.
Miracle — Matisyahu
8 Days of Hanukkah — Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings
Feast of Lights — They Might Be Giants
Judah and the Maccabees - Damon and Naomi

Hip-Hop/Rap:

Contemporary classics.
Hanukkah Song (Favorite Time of the Year) - Too $hort
Dreidel Trap - Meir Kay & Kosha Dillz
Dreidel - Erran Baron Cohen (Yiddish rap at 1:18)

Best of Folk

Have a gentle Hanukkah with the help of our mellow-voiced matriarchs and patriarchs.
Light One Candle - Peter, Paul and Mary
Oco Kandelikas - Flory Jagoda
The Many and the Few - Woody Guthrie (This is the most realistic telling of the Hanukkah story you’ll hear.)
Hanukkah Dance — Woody Guthrie

Comedy

Laugh-till-the-oil-comes-out-of-your-nose. Warning — Sandler’s and Bloom’s work is best enjoyed by the post-b’nei mitzvah set.
The Hanukkah Song (I, II, III, and IV) — Adam Sandler
Suck It, Christmas! - Rachel Bloom, Jack Dolgen, Dan Gregor Hanukkah Album (Our favorite tune is “Judaica.”)
Hanukkah Rocks - The LeeVees Hanukkah Album (Our favorite tune is “How Do You Spell Channukkah?”

Great for Kids

Cheery ear-worms that will entertain your kids but not make you wish night eight would show up any earlier than it does.
Judah Maccabee — Rabbi Joe Black
The Dreidel Song - Debbie Friedman

Bearable Parodies

If you have to listen to a Hanukkah parody song, it should be one of these.
Candlelight (Parody of “Dynamite” by Taio Cruz) - The Maccabeats
Bohemian Chanukah (Parody of “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen) - Six13
My Menorah (Parody of “La La Bamba,” a Mexican folk song) - Shlock Rock
A Nice Jewish Boy Band Chanukah (Parodies various Millennial-era boy band songs) - Six13
Hanukkah Hey Ya (Parody of “Hey Ya” by ) - Eric Schwartz
Latke Recipe (Parody of “Shut Up and Dance” by Walk The Moon) - The Maccabeats

Songs Written By Mormon Politicians:

It’s, frankly, very catchy.
8 Days of Hanukkah — Orrin Hatch

Songs to Skip:

Anything by Li’l Dicky - we don’t support Chris Brown-apologist Lil Dicky in this house.

Proof Hanukkah Songs Can Be Just As Annoying As Christmas Songs

In The Window (My Candles) - Susan Salidor
I Want A Hippopotamus For Hanukkah — Mr. Palindrome’s version of the John Rox song
Those Were The Nights (of Chanukah) - The Yeshiva Boys Choir

Jenny Singer is the deputy lifestyle editor for the Forward. You can reach her at Singer@forward.com or on Twitter @jeanvaljenny

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