Hanukkah And Orrin Hatch - Poem by gershon hepner
Although Senator Orrin Hatch
on Hanukkah won’t strike a match
to light a candle––he’s a Mormon––
he wrote a song he’ll be performin’
eight days while Jews who’re true to Torah
all light their Hanukkah menorah,
before they sing the Maoz Tsur
because for eight days oil was pure
He calls himself of songs Semitic
the muse, and I won’t be his critic.
I’m not with saints who’re latter day––
their Sunday is my Saturday––
but do approve his goal which is
to tell the tale of Jewish bus-
iness when Maccabees were strong––
the tenor of his Senate song.
Though Jews are strong today they can’t
find oil that’s pure, and while they chant
the Maoz Tsur they know their Rock
will not help them turn back the clock
until the world gives up its thirst
for oil from enemies well pursed
by dollars spent on fossil fuel,
which makes them greedy, gross and cruel.
If you forget this you’re a moron,
but pass the latkes, please to Orin,
If served with a Republic ladle,
your heart will spin just like a dreidel,
but make sure that they are not fried in
oil of Obama or Joe Biden,
but oil of Orrin Hatch, an addic’
of Jewish customs, Mormon tsaddik.
Maoz tsur yeshuati
is what I’m sure he’ll sing with me,
and I will sing his song with him,
before, once lights burn out, it’s dim.
Mark Leibovich writes about a Hannukah song written by Senator Orrin Hatch (“A Senator’s Gift to the Jews, ” NYT, December 10,2009) :
The canon of Hanukkah songs written by Mormon senators from Utah just got a little bigger.Senator Orrin G. 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.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.
“Watching Orrin Hatch in the studio, I said to myself that nothing this great will ever happen to me again, ” said Alana Newhouse, the editor-in-chief of Tablet.
Set against a bouncy synthesizer beat, the song begins:
“Hanukkah, oh Hanukkah,
The festival of light/
The oil burned bright.”
Adding to the project’s only-in-America mishmash is that the song is performed by Rasheeda Azar, a Syrian-American vocalist from Indiana. But Mr. Hatch is the song’s unquestioned prime mover, or macher. He is featured in the video, sitting stoic in the studio, head bobbing slightly, donning earphones and contributing backup vocals.
The song’s contagious refrain goes:
“Eight days of Hanukkah,
Come let’s celebrate.
Eight days of Hanukkah,
Let’s celebrate tonight, Hey! ”
At one point, Mr. Hatch unbuttons his white dress shirt to expose the golden mezuzah necklace he wears every day. Mezuzahs also adorn the doorways of his homes in Washington and Utah. Mr. Hatch keeps a Torah in his Senate office.
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