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!

A Hillel Staff’s Perspective

A Hillel Staff’s Perspective

Students have had a very different academic year. One that they have never experienced before. There has been isolation, lack of extracurricular activities and little to no in-person contact. In a recent McMaster Hillel student executive meeting on zoom, I said “we are in the business of community so we need to think creatively about what it feels like to be part of this community. ” How does one do this in a pandemic, when campus is closed and when we don’t see each other at all? How do we know how each of us are doing? Are we alone? Are we lonely? Are we coping? Do we bring our best selves to a Zoom and then grapple alone with our worries? These are the questions that I struggle with when trying to support a community despite the challenges that exist for us. 

From the beginning, Hillel pulled out all the pandemic stops to connect with students. Shabbat in a box and delivered to you? Yes! Zoom games night? Yes! Mental health and wellness box? Sign up here! We have you covered. These programs and services were created to keep our community together while at our own homes. We are able to connect through a screen and eat dinner, not together, but knowing that there were over 70 students enjoying the same meal in the comfort of their own homes as well. And we connected face to face over Zoom before and after, while enjoying our rugelach, of course!

All of these programs are great, but the individual connections are even more paramount. A text to a student to check in, a happy birthday wish on their special day or an unfortunate condolence call for those who have lost loved ones. For me, it’s putting in the extra effort to make a student feel special and finding ways to do this. Does the student have dietary needs that we can fulfill and can we make this student feel seen in making a special box for them? Did a student forget to sign up for Shabbat but do we have an extra meal for them anyway? Can we put an extra dessert in a bag, just because we know that student had a tough week? Even though we are in Hamilton, can we make an extra effort so our Toronto or out-of-province students also feel a part of our community and send them mailings and deliveries so that they feel part of our programming? Having inclusive programming is a cornerstone of Hillel’s mandate. In a pandemic, even more so. 

I miss seeing the students. I miss hanging out in the Hillel office and chatting over a bagel and cracking jokes over the lineup at the toaster. I miss bumping into students on campus, catching up on their lives, and being part of a place where they come for comfort and support (and food!).    With all the programming and outreach we have done in the past 10 months, I hope that we can continue to maintain our virtual community. That even though we are not in person, our students know we are still here for them. While the medium may have changed, the sentiment certainly has not.

 

 

 

 


Judith Dworkin,
Director, McMaster Hillel

Hillel Ontario Welcomes University of Toronto’s Anti-Semitism Working Group

Hillel Ontario Welcomes University of Toronto’s Anti-Semitism Working Group

Hillel Ontario welcomes University of Toronto’s recent launch of a new Anti-Semitism Working Group. The Working Group will review programming, activities, processes, and practices in place at the University of Toronto’s three campuses and develop recommendations to support the University’s response to antisemitism.

“The establishment of a working group focused on antisemitism is a much-needed measure for the University of Toronto,” said Rob Nagus, Senior Director, Hillel UofT. “Too often, Jewish students who have faced antisemitism on campus have felt that their serious concerns around anti-Jewish hate were dismissed. Given the positive impact of recent anti-racism initiatives on the campus community, it is incumbent on our institutions to also address the unique challenges inherent to combating antisemitism.”

“Across the nine campuses we serve, Hillel Ontario is committed to working with all university administrations to champion the voices of Jewish students,” said Marc Newburgh, CEO, Hillel Ontario. “We look forward to supporting the work of the University of Toronto by ensuring these voices are heard and acknowledged. Doing so will help the Working Group better understand how contemporary antisemitism manifests on campus.”

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