Thursday, December 10, 2009

Senator Orrin Hatch, Mormon Republican From Utah, Writes Hanukkah Song as Gift to Jewish People

When we started our Chanukah Countdown last month, posting a musical video each night, we would not have predicted that with one day to go until the first candle, we would be posting a brand new song written for Chanukah by a Mormon United States Senator.

The New York Times reports that Senator Orrin Hatch, Republican of Utah and a Mormon, has written an original song for Hanukkah as a gift to the Jewish People.
Senator Orrin Hatch, a solemn-faced Republican with a soft spot for Jews and a love of Barbra Streisand, has penned a catchy holiday tune, “Eight Days of Hanukkah.”  The video was posted Tuesday night on Tablet, an online magazine of Jewish lifestyle and culture, just in time for Hanukkah.
Eight Days of Hanukkah from Tablet Magazine on Vimeo.

Mark Leibovich writes in the Times,
Known around the Senate as a prolific writer of Christian hymns and patriotic melodies, Mr. Hatch, 75, said this was his first venture into Jewish music. It will not be his last.
"Anything I can do for the Jewish people, I will do,” Mr. Hatch said in an interview before heading to the Senate floor to debate an abortion amendment. “Mormons believe the Jewish people are the chosen people, just like the Old Testament says.”
In short, he loves the Jews. And based on an early sampling of listeners, the feeling could be mutual.
Fingering a silver mezuzah on a chain around his neck and wearing headphones in the studio, Hatch is shown in the video following along as the song is recorded by Syrian-American singer Rasheeda Azar.

The Tablet article, written by Jeffrey Goldberg, formerly with the New York Times Magazine and The Jerusalem Post, and now a staff writer for The Atlantic, tells the fascinating tale of how his casual suggestion to the senator ten years ago led to "a Mormon senator in a studio with an Arab singer and a bunch of New York Jewish background vocalists recording a Hanukkah song of his own making."  It's an article worth reading.

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