Ketubah.com’s top 8 Hanukkah Parodies (and more!)

Ketubah.com’s top 8 Hanukkah Parodies (and more!)

When you think of Hanukkah what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Lighting the hanukkiah? Eating traditional holiday foods such as latkes and sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts)? Playing the dreidel game? What about the traditional songs – like Ma’oz Tsur (“Rock of Ages”), “I Have a Little Dreidel” and “Hanukkah, O Hanukkah”? All meaningful traditions which make the holiday so special.

Modern Hanukkah songs have come along over the years but on December 3, 1994, it went mainstream when Adam Sandler performed his Hanukkah Song on Saturday Night Live‍‘​s Weekend Update. The original song was followed up by “Part II” (1999), “Part 3” (2002) and has even more updated versions over the years. Sandler humorously sings about celebrities who he claims (often, though not always correctly) are “Jewish,” “not Jewish,” or “half-Jewish.” 

Commonly known as the Festival of Lights, Hanukkah certainly embraces another name: The Festival of Pop Parodies. As we celebrate Hanukkah this year, Ketubah.com has gone down the rabbit hole of Hanukkah pop parodies and pulled out our top 8 favorites to share with you.

Fountainheads

The Fountainheads are a group of young Israeli singers, dancers and musicians who are all graduates and students of the Ein Prat Academy for Leadership.

Now a decade old, the Fountainhead 2010 parody I Gotta Feeling Hanukkah (Black Eyed Peas) can almost be considered a classic in the world of Hanukkah parodies.

Maccabeats

Originally formed in 2007 as Yeshiva University’s student vocal group, the Maccabeats have emerged both as a Jewish music and a cappella phenomena,  with more than 20 million views on YouTube. Entertaining and inspiring hundreds of audiences worldwide, this unique group of singers is able to connect with fans of all backgrounds and ages.

Here are some Maccabeat Hanukkah parodies we like to sing and dance to, starting with the most recent Candlelight – 2020 (BTS- Dynamites) released just a few days ago.

Pan Fry (Bad Guy by Billie Eilish and Old Town Road by Lil Nas X)

Hasmonean- A Hamilton Chanukah (Lin-Manuel Miranda)

All about that Neis (Meghan Trainor)

Six13

Six13 is a six-man a cappella vocal band that is bringing fun and enthusiasm to Jewish music, with nothing but the power of the human voice.

Energetically blending the traditional and the contemporary, Six13 strives to connect Jews around the world with their heritage through music. With band members from varied Jewish denominations and upbringings, the New York City-based group is an international phenomenon with over 15 million views on YouTube

Here are some of our favorite Six13 Hanukkah parodies starting with their most recent:

Arianukah (an ariana grande chanukah).

Bohemian Chanukah (a Queen adaptation)

Watch Me (Spin / Drey-Drey

Honorable mentions as an original song

Mattisyahu

Matisyahu, born Matthew Paul Miller, is an American Jewish reggae singer, rapper, beatboxer, and alternative rock musician. He is well known for blending Orthodox Jewish themes with reggae, rock and hip hop beatboxing sounds. His well known song Happy Hanukkah was released on November 20, 2012 as a charity song, with all proceeds (during the Hanukkah holiday of that year) donated to Hurricane Sandy Relief charity via The Jewish Federations of North America.

Daveed Digs

New to the scene of Hanukkah Songs is Daveed Diggs, best known for his starring roles as the Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson in the original cast of the megahit musical “Hamilton,” which also premiered in a recorded stage version on Disney+ this summer. Diggs is Jewish and attended Hebrew school as a kid. Puppy for Hanukkah  is a catchy tune about a kid hoping to receive a puppy as a present. The catchy tune is set against a klezmer-style clarinet melody and includes a recitation of the blessing over the menorah (and listen in for other traditional Hanukkah songs thrown in, too) .

Kippalive

Ra’anana-based a cappella group Kippalive began in 2011 as a group of friends singing Shabbat songs together on Friday nights. They started to put their own spin on Shabbat songs just for fun, but it was not long before they caught the attention of the city of Ra’anana with their street performances. Kippalive’s big break happened in 2013 when they competed on Israel’s  X Factor and have been doing steady weekend gigs and performances across Israel ever since. 

Although not a parody, we love this Hanukkah classic Al HaNisim. This year Kippalive teamed up with the incredible Beit Issie Shapiro – “A truly amazing non-profit and a leader in the field of disabilities. They work to create an inclusive society with equal opportunity for people with disabilities across the globe.  Each one these kids were born to shine. Be a light.” 

Check out their beautiful original song Be A Light just released a couple of days ago.

They are asking all of us to share this song and help make this world a better place.

Wishing you all a Happy Hanukkah. May you all be surrounded by loved ones (even on zoom), and the joy of music and light as you celebrate and enjoy all of the holiday’s traditions, both old and new.

Yom Kippur and Your Ketubah

Signed, Sealed, Delivered

By Michael Shapiro

Let’s unpack this crazy idea a bit.

A traditional greeting leading up to Rosh Hashanah is “L’shanah tovah tiKaTayVu”. “לשנה טובה תכתב ותחתם”

A thoughtful wish for Yom Kippur is “Gmar chatima tovah”.  גמר חתימה טובה (“Happy Yom Kippur” doesn’t quite fit the bill.)

What do these greetings mean and where else do we encounter these meanings in Jewish practice at this time of year?

One of the central, traditional High Holiday prayers contains the following similar words and sentiments.  It begins with: “B’rosh hashanah tiKaTayVu….”. This literally means, “On Rosh Hashanah, may you be written…”.  Or with more complete context, “May you be inscribed in the book of life for the year ahead”.*

Now, let’s turn our attention for a moment to your Ketubah. The word “Ketubah” (or sometimes KeTuVah)  כתובה derives from the same Hebrew root, “K-T-V”, as the word for “written” that is bolded above. The Ketubah is a marriage contract that is – you guessed it! – “written”; as opposed to the oral marriage agreements that were common in Biblical times.

The prayer then continues: “…U’veYom tzom Kippur techataymu”. Which literally means, “And on the fast day of Yom Kippur may you be sealed.” Or more completely, “On Yom Kippur may that earlier writing/inscription (for you in the book of life for the year ahead) be finalized and sealed.”

Mashhad, Persia, Iran, 1898 Ketubah By The Jewish Museum

A problem arises…maybe. While it’s pretty clear what “written” has to do with your Ketubah, what on earth does “sealed” have to do with it? Good question. The Hebrew word for “to seal” is also the word for “to sign” and of course, what good is a Ketubah that has not been signed?

In the High Holiday prayers, the words for “written” and for “sealed” are both in the plural form. This is even true in the similar traditional greeting above, even when it is addressed to a single individual. With a bit of poetic – even romantic – license, perhaps this plural form could be seen as a connection to the Ketubah. Specifically, to the Ketubah’s core function to help transform two single people into a unified “plural” as a married couple.

Taking another look at these two words, it is noteworthy that they are in the “passive” form. It says “may you be written” not “may you write” and “may you be sealed” not “may you seal”. The passive form of these words speaks of an action that is done to someone by another. So too, a couple becomes married not only by their public declaration of commitment to one another, but they are only “married” in Jewish tradition once their ketubah is signed by official witnesses.

Richmond, Virginia, 1891  Art By  The Jewish Museum

One final similarity between Yom Kippur and the Ketubah; the High Holiday wishes and prayers convey the hope to be inscribed and sealed in the book of life for a good year ahead. So too, in the words of Stevie Wonder, when your Ketubah is “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” it carries your hopes as a couple for a lifetime of good years together.

*Editor’s note: The not-so-attractive alternative to being inscribed in the book of life is the prayer said on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur “Unetanneh Tokef” which is the inspiration for Leonard Cohen’s famous song, “Who by Fire”.

Michael Shapiro is the founder of Ketubah.com. He is not a rabbi or Judaic scholar. He has enjoyed creatively exploring language, connections and meanings since he was a little boy.

The Best Place to see Ketubahs in New York City

By Aliyah Guttman

Senigallia, Italy, 1837 Ketubah Toronto by The Jewish Museum

People often inquire where they can see our Ketubahs in person and now, in New York, you can!

There is a quaint Judaica shop located inside The Jewish Museum on 92nd Street at 5th Avenue. Come visit this hidden gem for everything your new Jewish home will need and to see ketubahs in person. The Cooper Shop at The Jewish Museum is a beautiful boutique with a fabulous selection of Judaica and the perfect place to register for wedding gifts.

Ever since Ketubah.com‘s collaboration with The Jewish Museum to restore designs adapted from original works from around the world that date as far back as the 1600’s. Their timeless artwork decorates modern texts and provides a reminder of the long history and tradition behind signing the Ketubah. Now, you can see the special historical collection Ketubahs in addition to many other Ketubah designs that we offer in person at the shop.

Trieste, Italy, 1774 Ketubah Jewish Marriage Contracts by The Jewish Museum
Trieste, Italy, 1774, The Jewish Museum

The Cooper Shop at the Jewish Museum has everything from unique Menorahs, Metalace Art in candle sticks to baskets and even tallits (prayer shawls). The shop also carries new and interesting keepsake gifts for the glass that is smashed under the Chuppah, which always makes a special gift for a newlywed couple. You can collect the glass shards after the ceremony to display them elegantly in a clear tube along a picture frame or in a beautiful mezuzah to place in the couple’s new home.

“Now, you can see not only those special collection Ketubahs but many other Ketubah designs that we offer in person at the shop.”

1109 Fifth Avenue at 92nd Street
New York City, NY
212.423.3211
Shop Hours:
Sunday: 11 am – 5:45 pm
Monday: 11 am – 5:45 pm
Tuesday: 11 am – 5:45 pm
Wednesday: 11 am – 3 pm
Thursday: 11 am – 8 pm
Friday: 11 am – 5:45 pm
Saturday: CLOSED

What Is A Ketubah and Where Did It Come From?

Herat, Afghanistan, 1850 Ketubah Store by The National Library Of Israel

The Ketubah is a staple in the Jewish wedding ceremony but many couples don’t even know what it is! Here is the complete historical background of what a ketubah is, why it exists, and what it is today.

The History

The traditional and historical ketubah is a binding legal document, which catalogs a husband’s obligations to his wife, and makes provisions for her protection in the event of divorce or her husband’s death. It is really the religious equivalent to the contemporary pre-nuptial agreement of secular civil law.

Elements of the ketubah can be traced back to Biblical times. During that period, when a man consented to his daughter’s engagement he was thereby facing the impending departure of a contributing member of his household and was viewed as requiring compensation for this loss. Thus, the groom’s family made a financial settlement, called a mohar, to the bride’s family as part of the engagement agreement. In addition, the groom would give wedding presents – mattan – to his bride.

Senigallia, Italy, 1837 Ketubah Toronto by The Jewish Museum
Senigallia, Italy, 1837

In the post-Biblical era, as economic conditions changed, the financial obligations to compensate a bride and her family at the time of marriage proved onerous and made it difficult for young men without means to wed. Bride’s families began offering dowries to potential spouses in response. Moreover, the mohar was modified so that it was no longer a sum of money given directly to the bride’s father, but rather took the form of a mortgage or lien on the husband’s property, which he would be committed to paying out in the event of divorce, or which his estate would owe in the event of his death. The ketubah thus emerged as a way of documenting and certifying these arrangements, and ensuring that a woman had a legal record of them for her own security. The ketubah, in short, assured women of their rights and recourses in the face of the loss of their marriage.

The earliest extant ketubah dates from circa 440 B.C.E. found in Egypt and written on papyrus. This Aramaic document recorded the amount of the settlement the groom paid to the father of the bride and also noted the amount each family contributed to the dowry. The ketubah names the wife as beneficiary in the case of the husband’s death.

The ketubah text was first formalized about three hundred years later in the 1st century B.C.E. by the Sanhedrin (the presiding Judaic legislative body at the time); its authorship is attributed mainly to Rabbi Simeon ben Shetach. Despite undergoing several modifications since then, the ketubah text that has come down to us today closely resembles the one codified two thousand years ago. It is written in Aramaic, the language of legal and technical matters at the time, and an entire tractate of the Talmud is devoted to its intricacies

What Is Written In The Ketubah?

Gefen Papercut – By  Ruth Stern Warzecha

The ketubah’s multiple sections record the particulars of the wedding (date, names of bride and groom, etc.) and enumerate the groom’s obligations – financial and conjugal – to his bride.

Traditionally, the ketubah is not, as many people assume, a contract between husband and wife – neither, in fact, are required to sign the document. It is signed, rather, by two witnesses, who verify that the requisite conditions mentioned have been met by the groom. Another common misconception about the ketubah is that it in some way indicates that a man has purchased his wife, that it is some sort of transfer of property akin to a deed on a piece of land. This is not at all accurate – according to Jewish law there is no such relation of ownership between a husband and wife. The ketubah rather outlines the financial conditions that the groom must satisfy if the couple is to be permitted to undergo the wedding ceremony and become legally married 

“The earliest extant ketubah dates from circa 440 B.C.E. found in Egypt and written on papyrus.”

What The Ketubah Is Today

Trees Growing Together – By Meirah Iliinsky

Couples have continued to keep the tradition of a ketubah as an essential part of their Jewish wedding ceremony. Today, many artists and companies offer Ketubahs with texts that that speak to couples on a personal level in English. With the popularity of interfaith marriages and same sex weddings, couples can find ketubahs that fit their choices. Many Interfaith couples will include multiple languages such as Spanish or Chinese to include the other family. At times couples choose to write their own text which can include vows they are making to one another and poetry they love.