Hanukkah Music Makes Any Day a Party

Bubbeh Playing PianoThis wonderful lady is my grandmother, z”l. She loved to sing and play piano. When she was tickling the ivories, her face would light up.

And we would light up right beside her.

It’s no surprise, then, that ever since I was young, I’ve believed in the power of music to set the stage for whatever I’m doing.

Our family turns on Jimmy Buffett when we play raucous rounds of contract gin. I choose peaceful classical music when I really need to concentrate. Meatloaf’s the ticket for when I need a jolt to spur me on.

And, ever since I was a little girl, Jewish and Israeli music sets the feeling for Shabbat and most holidays.

Celebrate Hanukkah with more joy

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For Hanukkah, along with the candle blessings, I like singing the “standards,” like Maoz Tzur, Mi Y’maleil (my fave), Hanukkah Oh Hanukkah, and I Have a Little Dreidel. [Words for the blessings and song lyrics for these classics are in “Celebrate Hanukkah: How to Light Up Your Holiday” and “Hanukkah in a Box Family Fun Kit.”]

Hanukkah songs set the mood

While we’re cooking and cleaning and wrapping and coloring – that’s when I like to listen to lively Hanukkah music.

I highly recommend Chanukah, A Singing Celebration with Cindy Paley.  This wonderful 16-track CD includes lovely-to-my-ear versions of the classics and the blessings – and lots more. You can even choose to buy the songs you like best as MP3s.

A compilation you might enjoy is called Celebrate Hanukkah with Debbie Friedman, Craig Taubman and Peter Yarrow. Peter Yarrow’s “Light One Candle” is a personal favorite; you can easily find the guitar chords for this online. And I’m also a fan of almost-anything Debbie, including “Not By Might – Not by Power.”

Shira Kline’s CD, ShirLaLa Chanukah! Sing and Dance,” is self-described as “outrageously hip Jewish kiddie rock.”  This one would be great fun for a group of kids, a family, or a class, because there are lots of participatory songs with children’s voices.

Hanukkah party parade

And for us, because parading is such an integral part of our celebrations, we love cranking up these Hanukkah tunes from YouTube:

Adam Sandler’s Hanukkah spoof is also very popular, though our little guys aren’t ready for it yet.

If you have musicians in your midst, get some piano or guitar music ahead of time. I was amazed at the choices when I searched for “Hanukkah sheet music.” A good source is http://JewishMusic.com which now has music you can download, as well as the piano books I’ve traditionally purchased.

Which Hanukkah songs are your favorites?

Do you prefer the traditional songs? Or the new ones? The hip-hop versions? Share your faves with us.

We’ve got a favor to ask

If you enjoyed our Hanukkah in a Box Family Fun Kit, we’d so appreciate it if you’d take a minute to write a review on amazon.com. Here’s the link: http://amzn.to/HuEkXz  This is our first year on Amazon for this kit, as well as for our Hanukkah Games Box and Hanukkah Bingo Game. So if you’ve had fun with any of these three, please help us spread the word. Thanks!!


  1. says

    What a sweet picture of your Grandmother! I don’t have a favorite Hanukkah song but like you I do pick different music depending on the task at hand. Classical is best for geek purposes or when working in Photoshop, Barry Manilow’s Copacabana for when doing major house cleaning and recently Katie Perry for cleaning kitchen! Have a wonderful holiday!

    • Ellen says

      Thanks so much, Grandma Kc! My grandmother did not have an easy life. But when we were around, she always had a smile on her face. I love that you have music for different occasions, as well. I’ll try Katie Perry next time I clean the kitchen. Thanks for the suggestion 🙂

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