Jewish holiday music
‘Tis the season for some festive music! Lest you think that there is no such thing as “holiday music for Jews” let me introduce you to “Puppy for Hanukkah”, the latest masterpiece from Hamilton’s Tony Award winning Daveed Diggs who is Black and Jewish. When reading through the YouTube comments for the song you can see , Jews of colour celebrating being represented. If you want more Hanukkah music, check out the “Hanukkah+“ album which includes songs from Haim, Jack Black, The Flaming Lips and more.
Lastly on the music front, a seminal holiday film for Jews is Dreaming of a Jewish Christmas from Canadian director Larry Weinstein. Learn the fascinating history of the Jewish songwriters who “wrote the soundtrack to Christmas.” If you thought classic Christmas songs such as “Let it Snow”, “White Christmas” and “Winter Wonderland” were written by people who celebrated the holiday, well, prepare to have your mind blown. The film is available through Hot Docs at Home (and you can get a free trial before 2021!)
Parties and Festivities!
Speaking of festivities, this is the time of year when people are usually going out to parties, so I completely understand the desire to have events to look forward to. Sadly, virtual events are the only ones that can take place, but there’s one coming up that sounds so great that it may just make up for it.
Every year, The House hosts a version of a TEDTalks event—titled JEDx—and this year, the eighth installment, JEDxPOSED will be presented on December 17, the eighth night of Hanukkah. Featuring incredible Jewish speakers including Annamie Paul, Leader of the Green Party of Canada (check out Niv co-founder Clarrie Feinstein’s interview with her here) and Risa Alyson Cooper, director of Shoresh (who Niv co-founder Orly Zebak spoke with back in Issue 1! Check that out here.)
You can purchase tickets for $18, which will get you access to the event, an afterparty, and a future event at The House. Or, treat yourself and get the $65 ticket, with a meal and drinks included. Get them here!
If you’re looking for more virtual Hanukkah parties this year, have you ever heard a better event title than Hanukkah Hotties? Celebrate Hanukkah coast-to-coast with two Jewish organizations, JQT Vancouver and Tribe12 Philadelphia. You can register for free here to “light the menorah and schmooze with our invited Hanukkah Hotties, all of whom are lighting up their respective parts of the world by queering Jewish space and Jewifying queer space!” If you can’t make the times, all the livestreams will be available here.
And don’t forget to check out the MNJCC’s fantastic and jam-packed Hanukkah schedule here for nightly Hanukkah candle lighting, sufganiyot bake alongs, and parties!
Now, on to the topic of food (you knew there would be a mention of latkes in here somewhere, right?). Toronto’s restaurant The Depanneur is hosting Table Talk: A Conversation on Jewish Music. This Zoom conversation will explore the rich history of music in the Jewish tradition and its influence on the development of classical, jazz, and modern pop music. If you’re fascinated by Yiddish show tunes and Hasidic rappers, you’ll enjoy this talk. And bonus—if you want to eat a Hanukkah feast, prepared by a Greek-Jewish chef, order The Depanneur’s special dinner here (vegan options available).
Interfaith Initiatives and last-minute Hanukkah preparations!
If you’re looking for gift ideas, or you’ve just realized that you’re going to run out of Hanukkah candles by night six, check out this initiative between Jewish community organization Shoresh and the Holy Theotokos Convent. For the past three years, Shoresh has partnered with the sisters at Holy Theotokos Convent in Stouffville, Ontario to create 100% pure Beeswax Hanukkah Candles. Shop local and buy Shoresh candles—all proceeds go to growing and maintaining Shoresh’s Bee Sanctuary.
If you know anything about the play “The Dybbuk” also known as “Between Two Worlds”, you may know that it is considered by some to be the most iconic play in the Jewish canon. It has been 100 years since the play made its debut, which is why the Congress for Jewish Culture is mounting an online production — in Yiddish—with English subtitles and narration. Tune in on Monday, December 14 at 7pm for the 100th anniversary production. The performance features an all-star international cast, and lucky for us you can watch it from anywhere!
I thought I should wrap up this holiday special with some Hanukkah-related films to watch, but I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear that there aren’t a ton. Here’s a list of authentic Jewish holiday movies from The Wrap, but I haven’t seen all of them so I can’t promise they’ll be great. (Seeing Call Me By Your Name on this list has me somewhat suspicious. Do you consider it a Hanukkah movie?! ) I’ve also heard that the Netflix show Holiday Home Makeover with Mr. Christmas has an episode incorporating both Hanukkah and Christmas décor (fourth episode)
Are there any Jewish holiday movies that you would recommend? Are there any holiday traditions that you’re able to turn virtual? Let me know in the comments below and have a Happy Hanukkah, happy holidays, and happy new year!
Header image design by Orly Zebak.
Lara Bulger has a deep-rooted commitment to the arts. With a Bachelor’s degree in Music with minors in Film and English, plus a Master’s Degree in Arts Leadership, she is passionate about the capacity of art to bring about social change. Lara is currently pursuing her PhD in Cultural Studies at Queen’s University, focusing on documentary film and its social, political and cultural impacts.