Hanukkah, oh Hanukkah! Well, ’tis the season to celebrate the festival of lights. Granted, we don’t have mistletoe, trees, and creepy elves wrapping gifts. Nor do we have a great stock of holiday songs. (I’m sorry, but Adam Sandler’s ditties just grate on my nerves.) There’s no “On the first day of Hanukkah/My true love gave to me/A latke dripping in grease,” or “Grandma got run over by a dreidel.” Well, it’s time to rectify that! And lucky for the Tribe, Orrin Hatch has it covered.
Yes, that Orrin Hatch. He apparently has a soft spot for the Jews, as evidenced in part by his love of Barbra Streisand. He “has penned a catchy tune, ‘The Eight Days of Hanukkah.’” Just like “The Twelve Days of Christmas”! Only not at all! As The New York Times reports:
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.
Well, it’s not mutual for this Jew. And I think I have a good reason why.
Maybe I’m crazy, but Hatch’s feelings about Jews smack of those people who think of Jews as the Chosen People because of what they signified for their religion and how a strong Israel was something that bolstered Christianity. Enough people have spoken about how Israel will help to usher in Armageddon wherein the righteous will be saved. Except, y’know, the Jews who live in Israel, because they haven’t accepted the Messiah. There’s an excellent analysis and history of that view at beliefnet. Now, to be fair, this is most prevalent and visible among Evangelicals, and Hatch is a Mormon. But that’s not to say his faith hasn’t written about that in its scripture (my emphasis):
The assistance which the Gentiles are to give in the preparation of the Jews, and of the remnant of the house of Israel established on the western continent, is affirmed by several Book of Mormon prophets; and, moreover, the blessings which the Gentiles may thus bring upon themselves are described in detail. A single quotation must suffice for our present purpose; and this the declaration of the risen Lord, during His brief ministration among the Nephites:
“But if they [the Gentiles] will repent, and hearken unto my words, and harden not their hearts, I will establish my church among them, and they shall come in unto the covenant and be numbered among this the remnant of Jacob, unto whom I have given this land for their inheritance; And they shall assist my people, the remnant of Jacob, and also as many of the house of Israel as shall come, that they may build a city, which shall be called the New Jerusalem. And then shall they assist my people that they may be gathered in, who are scattered upon all the face of the land, in unto the New Jerusalem. And then shall the power of heaven come down among them; and I also will be in the midst. And then shall the work of the Father commence at that day, even when this gospel shall be preached among the remnant of this people. Verily I say unto you, at that day shall the work of the Father commence among all the dispersed of my people, yea, even the tribes which have been lost, which the Father hath led away out of Jerusalem. Yea, the work shall commence among all the dispersed of my people, with the Father, to prepare the way whereby they may come unto me, that they may call on the Father in my name. Yea, and then shall the work commence, with the Father, among all nations, in preparing the way whereby his people may be gathered home to the land of their inheritance.”
Got all that? Yeah, “preparation of Jews” kind of freaks me out. Which brings me to Hatch. Look, I can’t speak for the man’s personal beliefs. But I am a bit uncomfortable with Hanukkah songs that are penned by someone whose faith subscribes to the notion that Jews must be turned to Christianity to be saved, and that Gentiles are the ones to do that. And there’s this: 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. “Not a real Torah, but sort of a mock Torah,” he said. “I feel sorry I’m not Jewish sometimes.” Um, then maybe convert? And what’s a mock Torah, anyway?
The Times article closes on this note:
He said his ultimate goal would be for his idol, Ms. Streisand, to perform one of his songs. “It would be good for her and good for me,” Mr. Hatch said, while acknowledging that given her outspoken liberalism, that union might require another miracle.
Yes, it would be good for her. Yay for religious paternalism! Now, I’m off to pretend I have latkes and sing “Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel.” Sorry, Orrin. I’ll pass on your song.