The House of Glee attended the Dan Zanes Holiday House Party last Saturday. The show had songs in Arabic, English, Hebrew, Ladino (a Spanish-Hebrew creole developed by Sephardic Jews), Korean, Spanish, and Swahili performed by family bands that included children. We got a kick out of the "Grey Goose" shadow-puppet production and enjoyed the songs, but thought that the transitions needed to be smoother before the show would be ready for Broadway.
Even though I once attended a Yiddish-Hebrew Sunday school for 6 months, I had never before heard two of the Hanukkah songs performed. I've only ever known about "Dreydl, Dreydl" and "Hanukkah O Hanukkah" through my public school chorus class. At the concert, the first Hanukkah song was performed by Basya Schechter of Pharaoh's Daughter was a Ladino song called "Ocho Kandelikas" (Eight Little Candles), written by Flory Jagoda. Here is the chorus:
Una kandelika, dos kandelikas, tres kandelikas,
kuatro kandelikas, sintyu kandelikas, sej kandelikas, siete kandelikas,
ocho kandelas para mi.
One candle, two candles, three candles,
four candles, five candles, six candles, seven candles,
eight candles for me.
You can hear Kenny Ellis sing it on YouTube here. Complete Ladino lyrics with the English translations are here.
The second Hanukkah song that was new to me was the Hebrew "Ma'oz Tzur" (The Strength of the Rock, one of the many names for God). The lyrics are thought to have been written in the 13th century, and the tune used most is an adaptation of a German folk song. I've heard two different versions, so I'm not sure which one is the folk song. "Ma'oz Tzur" is traditionally sung after the reciting of the blessings and lighting of the menorah candles. The first verse in phonetic Hebrew with the English translation is here. You can listen to Schechter perform it here.
This year, Hanukkah begins at sundown on Sunday, December 21.
For those searching for Hanukkah songs on the internet, here are alternate phonetic spellings to bring you to this specific post: Chanuka, Chanukah, Chanukkah, Channukah, Hanukah, Hannukah, Hanukkah, Hanuka, Hanukka, Hanaka, Haneka, Hanika, Khanukkah.