8 Hanukkah Songs for the Festival of Lights
There are many beautiful Christmas carols that almost everyone can sing along to, but can you name the top 8 Hanukkah songs?
Hint: I Had a Little Dreidel is not one of them!
Every November, many radio stations across the United States change their regular format to all Christmas music to get listeners into the holiday spirit. The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah is celebrated during this time, and with the exception of the original Chanukah Song by Adam Sandler, the music for the Festival of Lights is non-existent.
There are many beautiful, catchy tunes that have become modern classics to the Jewish community. Here are 8 great Hanukkah songs we like to listen to.
Featured image from Ivorymix and altered by the author in Canva
Although they formed as a group in 2007, very few people had ever heard of Yeshiva University’s The Maccabeats until their YouTube video “Candlelight” went viral during Hanukkah 2010. Based on Taio Cruz hit single “Dynamite” this song and video became a top Hanukkah tune that was heard on the radio and on just about every Jewish person’s Facebook page.
The Latke Song
No other modern Jewish artist transformed the music of 20th century Judaism more than the late Debbie Friedman. Bored with typical music found in synagogue services, Debbie combined folk music and Hebrew texts to create spiritual songs that left a legacy for generations to come. “The Latke Song”is a family favorite and is often played during Hanukkah in my own home.
Matisyahu is the world’s first Lubavitch reggae star. He was not born into this Orthodox Jewish sect, but chose it as a young adult. His music was made to touch the lives of Jews everywhere, no matter what denomination they practiced. This Hanukkah song, “Miracle” is an uplifting song celebrating the miracle that is the Festival of Lights.
Peter, Paul and Mary
Light One Candle
Peter Yarrow wrote this Hanukkah song in 1983. Part of the famous folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary, they were known for their stance on peace and equality. The lyrics of Light One Candle tell how we should light one candle for the children who survived the past and for those who are suffering now. This song is a timeless Hanukkah classic.
Rabbi Joe Black
Rabbi Joe Black has been a favorite of mine since I became a mom back in 1995. His Jewish music for children is not only catchy and fun, it teaches children about their religion and their history. “Judah Maccabee” is a top Hanukkah favorite in our home-for me!
Rabbi Joe Black
Eight Nights of Joy
Here is another Hanukkah favorite of mine from Rabbi Joe Black. The music from this still practicing rabbi is infectious. It is such a joy to listen to him sing!
I Light It
Who is Six13? They are another religious acapella boy band with vocals that sing the praises of Judaism in a way teens of today can relate to and appreciate. In 2010 they released their Hanukkah hit “I Light It" to rave reviews. This songs sings about the joys of Hanukkah to the tune of Justin Bieber’s “Baby, Baby”, "Heartless" by Kanye West and "I Like It" by Enrique Iglesias.
Bare Naked Ladies
Released in 2004, this is one of the most beautiful renditions of the traditional Hanukkah blessings ever recorded. Appearing on their “Barenaked for the Holidays” CD, this is a favorite Hanukkah tune for many Jewish families.
As you can see, these top 8 Hanukkah songs have much more depth and meaning than “I Had a Little Dreidel.” Give a listen and you can see why these have become Hanukkah classics.