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November 29, 2004

Hanukkah in Santa Monica

I have a lot of respect for Binyamin Jolkovsky, and I've linked to his Jewish World Review site on my sidebar. But what's going on with his opposition to Adam Sandler's song about Hanukkah?

According to the Washington Times, Jolkovsky thinks the song is an "embarrassment." "Hanukkah is about a lot more than menorahs or potato latkes," he says. "It's childish when you take a minority that doesn't take itself seriously and then you see what they're offering."

I'm not sure what that's all about. Hanukkah is not a religious holiday in the mold of Christmas, which it coincides with, but a holiday celebrating political freedom. Of course, there's a strong religious element to it -- the purification of the defiled temple and the miracle of the oil -- but mostly, it's a fun holiday. As the joke goes, They tried to kill us; we won; let's eat. Besides, Sandler's song is amusing.

All of which reminds me of Tom Lehrer's classic Hanukkah song, Hanukkah in Santa Monica. While Lehrer's politics are vershtunk, he's an unusually clever lyricist. Here are the lyrics. I've made minor changes in the Hebrew transliteration.

I'm spending Hanukkah in Santa Monica,
Wearing sandals, lighting candles by the sea.
I spent Shavuos in East Saint Louis,
A charming spot, but clearly not the spot for me.
Those eastern winters, I can't endure 'em,
So every year I pack my gear and come out here til Purim.
Rosh Hashana I spend in Arizona.
And Yom Kippah way down in Mississippah.
But in December there's just one place for me.
Amid the California flora I'll be lighting my menorah.
Like a baby in its cradle I'll be playing with my dreidel,
Here's to Judas Maccabeus, boy if he could only see us,
Spending Hanukkah, in Santa Monica, by the Sea!