Have Yourself a Merry Little Hanukkah?

Dec. 27 2019

While Jews wrote many of the pop-music standards that for decades have been the usual fare of Christmas albums, the newly produced Hanukkah+ is the first of its kind for the Festival of Lights. Rivki Silver writes in her review:

The album’s one and only traditional Hanukkah song is the movie star Jack Black’s acapella-meets-metal rendition of “Oh Hanukkah.” . . . Despite the variety of styles on the album, ranging from Yo La Tengo’s Bossa nova “Eight Candles” to the Watkins Family Hour bluegrass cover of Woody Guthrie, it still feels cohesive. Not to be missed is [the all-Jewish band] HAIM’s cover of Leonard Cohen’s 1984 classic “If It Be Your Will.”

For Silver, only one track struck a false note:

The great folksinger Loudon Wainwright III acknowledges that as a non-Jew, he’s out of his element. . . . His “Eight Nights a Week” is a rollicking and enjoyable ragtime swing, with oil, latkes, and menorahs, but did we really need the Christmas trees? And few listeners will appreciate the comparison of the miracle of the oil lasting eight nights to the New Testament’s miracle of the loaves and fishes. Can we not have just one little Jewish space for ourselves?

Read more at Jewish Review of Books

More about: Hanukkah, Jewish music, Popular music

Israel Is Courting Saudi Arabia by Confronting Iran

Most likely, it was the Israeli Air Force that attacked eastern Syria Monday night, apparently destroying a convoy carrying Iranian weapons. Yoav Limor comments:

Israel reportedly carried out 32 attacks in Syria in 2022, and since early 2023 it has already struck 25 times in the country—at the very least. . . . The Iranian-Israeli clash stands out in the wake of the dramatic events in the region, chiefly among them is the effort to strike a normalization deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and later on with various other Muslim-Sunni states. Iran is trying to torpedo this process and has even publicly warned Saudi Arabia not to “gamble on a losing horse” because Israel’s demise is near. Riyadh is unlikely to heed that demand, for its own reasons.

Despite the thaw in relations between the kingdom and the Islamic Republic—including the exchange of ambassadors—the Saudis remain very suspicious of the Iranians. A strategic manifestation of that is that Riyadh is trying to forge a defense pact with the U.S.; a tactical manifestation took place this week when Saudi soccer players refused to play a match in Iran because of a bust of the former Revolutionary Guard commander Qassem Suleimani, [a master terrorist whose militias have wreaked havoc throughout the Middle East, including within Saudi borders].

Of course, Israel is trying to bring Saudi Arabia into its orbit and to create a strong common front against Iran. The attack in Syria is ostensibly unrelated to the normalization process and is meant to prevent the terrorists on Israel’s northern border from laying their hands on sophisticated arms, but it nevertheless serves as a clear reminder for Riyadh that it must not scale back its fight against the constant danger posed by Iran.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Saudi Arabia, Syria