10 Christmas songs written by Jews

by | Dec 2, 2016 | Entertainment, Hillel Ontario | 0 comments

Jews tend to believe that Christmas has a big impact on the Jewish culture. However, most people are not aware how much Jews influence Christmas!

Here is a list of our favorite Christmas songs you didn’t know were written by Jews:

1. Winter Wonderland – Felix Bernard, Richard B. Smith

We all know the Christmas jingle ‘Winter Wonderland’ performed by Michael Bubblé, Dean Martin, Amy Grant, and many other amazing singers. What most people don’t know is that one of the co-writers, Felix Bernard, is in fact Jewish.
Felix Bernard was born in New York, and was a successful conductor, pianist, and composer. Amongst his most popular works are ‘Winter Wonderland’ and ‘Dardanella’.

 

2.Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – Ralph Blane, Hugh Martin

Ralph Blane, who was an amazing composer, co-wrote one of the most famous Christmas carols, which was part of a film musical from 1944, called ‘Meet Me In St. Louis’. Since then ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’ was featured in movies, such as Die Hard, The Gremlins, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and many more.

 

3. Santa Clause Is Coming To TownFred Coots, Haven Gillespie 

Fred Coots, the co-writer of this Christmas hit, was another successful Jew, who impacted Christmas. He composed more than 12 Broadway shows and over 700 songs. After his co-writer came up with the lyrics to ‘Santa Clause Is Coming To Town’, it only took Coots 10 minutes to compose the skeleton of this world famous Christmas carol.

 

4. Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It SnowSammy Cahn, Jule Styne 

Both writers of this Christmas classic are Jewish. Sammy Cahn, born Samuel Cohen, and Jule Styne, born Julius Stein wrote ‘Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow!’ 1945. The composers do not only have this hit in common. Both Jewish family were originally from in Eastern Europe, and immigrated to the United States when their children were still young.

 

5.It’s The Most Wonderful time Of The Year – Edward Pola, George Wyle

We all know this song from Ellen DeGeneres’ segment of ’12 Days Of Giveaways’, but have you ever thought about the people who wrote this jingle? One of the co-writers is Edward Pola. Edward Pola was an actor, radio- and TV producer, and a songwriter. He was born in New York to his Jewish parents who immigrated to the US from Hungary.

 

6.Do you know it’s Christmas? – Midge Ure, Bob Geldof (Performed by Band Aid)

Do you know it’s Christmas, which is one of the best-selling singles of all time, was co-written by the singer, songwriter, author and political activist Bob Geldof. Geldof was born and grew up in Ireland with a Jewish grandfather.

 

7.Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer – Johnny Marks

Johnny Marks is famous for his many Christmas songs, including ‘Rocking Around the Christmas Tree’, ‘A Holly Jolly Christmas’, and ‘Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer’. Many of his Christmas works ended up being great hits. What most people don’t know about the American songwriter is that he was in fact a Jew from New York.

 

8.Sleigh Ride – Leroy Anderson, Mitchell Parish

The co-writer of Sleigh Ride, Mitchel Parish was born in Lithuania and immigrated with his Jewish family to the US at the age of one. The successful New York lyricist wrote, and translated songs to English. One of his works is the famous Christmas song ‘Sleigh Ride’.

 

9.White Christmas – Irving Berlin

The composer and lyricist of White Christmas, Irving Berlin, is considered one of the greatest song writers in American history. His father was a cantor in a synagogue in Imperial Russia until the Jewish family immigrated to the United States and moved to New York. There, Irving Berlin grew up and became a very successful composer and lyricist, writing and composing world famous songs and film scores.

 

10 . Channukah Songs – Adam Sandler

Last, but for sure not least, we will go back to Channukah. Adam Sandler is known for his funny Channukah songs. In collaboration with Saturday Night Life writers Lewis Morton and Ian Maxton-Graham, Adam Sandler published a total of four Channukah songs. Each of the songs wishes the listener a Happy Channukah, and lists all possible public figures who are Jewish.

In Adam Sandler’s words: Everyone at Hillel Ontario wishes you a happy, happy, happy, happy Channukah!

Stronger Together!

Stronger Together!

Over this past Family Day Weekend, I spent a lot of time reflecting both about the challenges we face, but also about the incredible strength and resiliency of this community. Jewish students are often at the forefront of hate and discrimination on campus and online, but we are at our most powerful – and most effective – when we work together as one.

With that in mind, I want to provide several important advocacy updates.

First, I am excited to share that Hillel Ontario has begun convening meetings to coordinate advocacy initiatives amongst Jewish campus organizations across the country. The time has come for Hillel Ontario to lead the way in encouraging cooperation to accomplish the goals we collectively share. Joining us in these monthly discussions are Hillel Montreal, Hillel BC, Hillel Ottawa, CJPAC, Hasbara Fellowships and StandWithUs. We appreciate their willingness to engage with us in these important conversations.

Second, I want to update you on the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) matter that galvanized much community discussion last week. In addition to endorsing a motion to divest from companies doing business in Israel, the union misrepresented the recently released report of the Antisemitism Working Group and its approach to what does or does not constitute antisemitism. Hillel views these type of divestment motions as part of a wider issue of antisemitism on campus, and we have made that point clearly and consistently to university leadership and members of the Working Group for the better part of the past year.

Late Friday, Working Group members released an important statement, which both criticized the rhetoric of union leaders, and vindicated our belief that hate speech directed at Israel, Israelis or Jews based on actions (real or imagined) of the Israeli government is antisemitism. This is an important moment; one that underscores why our approach to these issues, and the allies we foster across campus are so critical. While we may not be able to stop every divestment motion from passing, we can – and we will continue to – have our voices heard by university leadership to ensure antisemitism remains on the margins. This is precisely what happened last week at the UofT.

Jewish students deserve to study, live and socialize in an environment free from harassment and discrimination. Hillel will continue to condemn antisemitism, defend Israel and our right to self-determination, and build essential relationships on campus to secure the well-being of the students we so proudly serve.

And, we will do so in concert with our allies; because we believe we are stronger together.

Sincerely,

Jay Solomon
Chief Communications & Public Affairs Officer

Nature vs. Nurture, and Nate Deserves Our Anger

Nature vs. Nurture, and Nate Deserves Our Anger

Weekly D’var: Toldot 5782 by Scott Goldstein

[Warning: Ted Lasso show spoiler] I just finished watching the second season of Ted Lasso, and I cannot get the image of the finale out of my head. Haven’t seen it yet? That’s ok, I’ll recap part of this week’s Torah portion as you go catch up and then tie it in at the end for when you get back.

When not detailing the intricate politics of well-digging and water rights, this week’s Torah portion takes some time to highlight our favourite biblical twins – Jacob and Esav (a.k.a. Esau). Some may even refer to this as the first twin study on “Nature vs. Nurture” (shoutout to my psychology peeps) ever recorded. We are presented with brothers that were raised in the same environment but turned out to be polar opposites. I’ll let you read the riveting stories of birthright transactions and elaborate deceptions on your own, but the narrative we are presented with is clear: Jacob is good, and Esav is bad. Here’s the problem I had with this narrative: If Esav was raised in a good environment, but still did bad things, then is the Torah telling us that our destiny is sealed by nature?

I just finished watching Ted Lasso, and I cannot help but think about how loveable Nate (played by Nick Mohammed) is a perfect example of what I think our Torah portion is trying to tell us. Ted Lasso (played masterfully by Jason Sudeikis) created a nurturing environment where Nate could grow from invisible kit manager to assistant coach that everyone loves. Despite all that, it comes down to the decisions Nate made to allow jealousy to influence his actions, leading him to leave Richmond FC and betray his teammates by joining West Ham United.

I think the story we read in the Torah is reminding us that both nature and nurture are really important (just as science does), but our decisions, ultimately, are our own. Whether it’s Esav going down in history as the ultimate example of bad decision-making or Nate likely being the reason we see Ted cry next season, the lesson is clear… be like Jacob because we can make good decisions no matter the circumstances.

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