The countdown is on— less than four weeks until Chanukah.created at: 2010-11-04

Ever since ever, my parents, at Chanukah, have rolled out an ancient mimeographed booklet that they use for the blessings, songs, and readings.  The booklet, called How to Celebrate Hanukah at Home, was published by United Synagogue and compiled by Rabbi Albert I. Gordon in 1947.  Along with the paper candles and other unique-to-the-family traditions, the book is an integral part of my Chanukah identity. 

In the middle of this old, old manuscript, is the following song.  No one else I have ever met knows this song or the melody, but we belt it out proudly each Chanukah.  It is, unquestionably, one of the highlights of Chanukah every year.

(To the melody “Der Rebbe hot gevizen vunder”)

O Listen to an epic song

It is a lovely story

Of how a lady Maccabbee

Won everlasting glory

Antiochus Epiphanes

Profaned our holy temple

For bad and bold he quenched the light

Of our menorah Lempel

He told the Jews they’d have to eat

Profane non-Kosher dishes

And if they did not, they would die

A victim of his rishuss

No Kosher meat- no Kosher fowl

It really was quite awful

‘Til Mrs. Maccabbeus peeled

And ground up some kartoffel

She mixed them well with olive oil

And baked it in a platter

And so despite Antiochus

The Jews kept getting fatter

And now each Chanukah we eat

This fill of latke treasure

And thank the Lady Maccabbee

For giving us this pleasure

Only a few understand the words kartoffel, lempel, or rishuss.  And I openly wonder if there are extant recordings of the song “Der Rebbe hot gevizen vunder” that gave this song its tune, as google returns no results for the song title.

If you know anything about this song, let me know by posting a comment below.  In the meantime, I’ll continue to sing it with my kids and pass it down to them as a perennial Chanukah gift that will keep on giving.