It’s the festival of lights, doughnuts and latkes. And, over the past few years, it has also become the festival of viral videos.
Jewish groups have been releasing increasingly quality videos and songs each Hanukkah – and this year is no exception. To help you celebrate, I’ve picked eight of the most buzzworthy videos of 2018 – one of each night of the holiday.
1. Easily the most-talked about Hanukkah video so far comes from a cappella group Six13, who – inspired by the recent Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody – have released “Bohemian Chanukah.”
“Is this the eighth night/ We light with family?/ Recall with great pride/ Our escape from Greek tyranny?” the six-member vocal band sing. “Kindle the lights/ Remember the Maccabees/ How did those five boys/ Lead us to victory?”
The group, who have previously released Hanukkah covers of Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off” and Silento’s “Watch me (Whip/Nae Nae),” said this year’s video is a “tribute to one of the greatest and most epic songs of all time.” And since the clip was released last week, it has already been viewed more than 700,000 times on YouTube and close to 1.5 million times on Facebook.
2. Six13 isn’t the only group getting inspired by Queen. The New York-based Y-Studs has released a Hanukkah-themed cover of three of the band’s most famous songs: “Don’t Stop Me Now,” “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions.” The group said it strove to “maintain the songs’ infectious energy while reinventing the lyrics to convey the joys of celebrating Hanukkah with family and friends.”
The band put its own spin on the lyrics with, “Ohh it’s Hanukkah, We’ll celebrate tonight/ Light the candles, surrounded by friends and my family/ Everybody’s getting hungry when I am flipping a latke/ I’m gonna go, go, go/ Yeah, we’re gonna feast.”
3. The original viral Jewish video creators, the Maccabeats, didn’t disappoint this year either. The group went a little old school this time around, releasing a video with a variety of musical takes on the classic “I Have a Little Dreidel.” Beginning with the original, the group then includes versions inspired by big band, bluegrass, hip hop, 80s rock, blues, gospel and more.
And even the Maccabeats couldn’t escape the renewed Queen frenzy, ending the song with a little bit of dreidel set to the band’s classic “Somebody to Love.”
4. Has all that singing made you hungry? Then actress Mayim Bialik – of Big Bang Theory fame – is ready to show you how to make latkes.
“You might call it a potato pancake,” jokes the Jewish author and vegan, “but you’d just be wrong.” In the clip sponsored by Manischewitz, Bialik works to modernize the classic recipe.
“Let’s not make the same old recipe that Jews have been making for thousands of years,” she proclaims. “The Jewish people are so amenable to change, we’re so flexible, we’re so adaptable. We can be as modern as the next group of historically ancient people – I think.”
And just how does Bialik millenialize latkes? By making an avocado toast latke topped with chives and Himalayan sea salt, of course. The actress offers two other potential modern takes on the traditional treat, and seems to have a good and tasty time while doing it.
5. This year, the Shir Soul band based in New York went full-on parody for its Hanukkah video – and hit just the right note. The group released a version of the famed song “Africa,” by Toto, poking fun at itself and at Jewish a cappella videos in general.
“I bless the candles in my menorah,” the four-member group sings. “I bless the candles’ light on Hanukkah/ I bless the rains down in Africa/ I bless the man who made this sufganiya.”
As the band skips around New York, taking the bus, performing magic tricks, hanging in kosher restaurants and shopping in supermarkets, they joke about how to make the best video, and, most importantly “how to stand up to the Maccabeats.”
6. American satirist and singer Kinky Friedman is certainly not going to be left out of the holiday cheer this year. The Jewish writer, cowboy and failed Texas politician teamed up with IKEA’s Great Big Story series to explore Hanukkah and country music in a new video.
“This menorah is a real Texas menorah,” Friedman says while lighting his unique hanukkia. “Most people who know much about menorahs don’t know anything about armadillos, and the people who do know about armadillos certainly don’t know anything about menorahs. It’s very unusual to find people like myself who know about menorahs and armadillos.” Friedman sings a little hava nagila, as well as some decidedly less traditional Hanukkah songs, in a delightfully quirky video.
“An important thing about being Jewish,” he says, “Is that you are definitely on the outside looking in – but that’s where the best material comes from.”
7. It’s not quite musical, but the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa has brought out another clever video for Hanukkah this year – showing you how to light the menorah – the hard way. The school’s mechanical engineering students built a new version of their famed Rube Goldberg machines to get those candles lit in 2018. Beginning with a slide of olive oil, through to flying chocolate gelt and a complicated pulley system, the low-tech robot gets all eight candles lit without a human hand. You just have to see it to believe it.
8. And finally, the eighth video on our eight crazy nights roundup might not be viral yet – but it sure has potential. Watch as two Israeli violinists, Nir Sarussi and Ariella Zeitlin, take to the streets of Jerusalem to perform a medley of Hanukkah songs.
The duo play in the center of town – and at Kikar Hamusika – as the light rail chugs by and shoppers stop to watch. From “Maoz Tsur” to “Al Hanissim,” “Hanukkah ‘O Hanukkah” and more, these two violinists put on quite a show in the capital of Israel.
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