The Chanukah Song
"The Chanukah Song" is a novelty song written by comedian Adam Sandler with Saturday Night Live writers Lewis Morton and Ian Maxtone-Graham and originally performed by Sandler on Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update on December 3, 1994. Sandler subsequently performed the song as part of his stand-up act, later updating it with new lyrics. All variations center on the theme of Jewish children feeling alienated during the Christmas season, and Sandler's listing of Jewish celebrities (with both real and fictional connections to Judaism) as a way of sympathizing with their situation.
Part I (1994)
|"The Chanukah Song"|
|Single by Adam Sandler|
|from the album What the Hell Happened to Me?|
|Songwriter(s)||Adam Sandler, Ian Maxtone-Graham, Lewis Morton|
|Producer(s)||Adam Sandler, Brooks Arthur|
|Adam Sandler singles chronology|
This version appeared on Sandler's 1996 comedy album What the Hell Happened to Me?
Persons referenced in "The Chanukah Song":
- "You" (The hypothetical Jewish listener)
- "Me" (Sandler himself)
- David Lee Roth
- James Caan
- Kirk Douglas
- Dinah Shore (replaced in some performances with Pauly Shore)
- Jon Bauman (Bowzer from Sha Na Na)
- Arthur Fonzarelli (Henry Winkler)
- Paul Newman (Jewish father)
- Goldie Hawn (Jewish mother)
- Captain Kirk (William Shatner)
- Spock (Leonard Nimoy)
- "The owner of the Seattle Super-Sonic-ah's" (founding partners Sam Schulman and Gene Klein, both Jews, had sold it to the non-Jewish Barry Ackerley in 1985, nine years before the song was written. The situation would correct itself when Ackerley sold the team to another Jew, Howard Schultz, in 2001.)
- O. J. Simpson was declared as "not a Jew!" to great applause from the audience.
- Rod Carew (Sandler erroneously claims "he converted;" Carew's wife and children are Jewish but he is not. Carew later contacted Sandler and said he found the song rather funny.)
- Ann Landers (Eppie Lederer)
- "Dear Abby" (Pauline Phillips at the time)
- Harrison Ford (Sandler understated Ford's Jewish ancestry by saying he is only a quarter-Jewish; Ford's mother was Jewish).
- Ebenezer Scrooge, described as not Jewish.
- All of The Three Stooges (brothers Moe, Shemp and Curly Howard; Larry Fine; and Joe Besser)
- Tom Cruise, a Scientologist, is mentioned in the song as not Jewish (Sandler jokes during the song that he “hear(s) his agent is” Jewish).
Sandler also makes reference to the Carnegie Deli, a famed Jewish restaurant in New York City (closed in 2016), and mentions that "you don't need" two holiday songs that do not mention Christmas: "Deck the Halls," a celebration of the Pagan holiday of Yule; and "Jingle Bell Rock," a rockabilly winter song.
During the final verse, performed originally on Saturday Night Live and on a radio cut, Sandler sings the line "Drink your gin and tonic-ah, but don't smoke marijuan-icah". On the uncut album version, and during various concert appearances, the line was changed to "Drink your gin and tonic-ah, and smoke your marijuan-icah". The uncut version, despite the reference to marijuana, receives most radio airplay today; another radio edit skips completely over the gin and tonic/marijuana line altogether.
|US Billboard Hot 100||80|
|US Adult Top 40 (Billboard)||28|
|US Alternative Airplay (Billboard)||25|
Part II (1999)
Persons referenced in "The Chanukah Song, Part II":
- Winona Ryder (whose father is Jewish)
- Ralph Lauren
- Calvin Klein
- Louise Post and Nina Gordon of Veruca Salt
- Michael "Mike D" Diamond, Adam "MCA" Yauch, and Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz of the Beastie Boys (Diamond and Yauch are Jewish, although Yauch converted to Buddhism shortly before his death, and Horovitz's father was Jewish)
- Lenny Kravitz (father Sy Kravitz was a non-practicing Jew; Lenny converted to Christianity in his youth)
- Courtney Love (half-Jewish) (an error; neither of her parents was Jewish).
- Harvey Keitel
- Jennifer Beals (an error; Beals says she once wanted to be Jewish, but is not).
- Yasmine Bleeth (her father Phil was Jewish)
- Dustin Hoffman (referred to as Dustin Hoffmanica for the sake of rhyme)
- O.J. Simpson, "still not a Jew"
- Don Messick, voice actor of Scooby-Doo (This is an error, as Messick was not Jewish; it may have been intentional simply because Doo rhymes with Jew)
- Bob Dylan, "was born a Jew, then he wasn't, but now he's back" (The accuracy of this line is questionable; as late as 2009, Dylan (reportedly) still identified as a Christian, although he had also been seen in synagogues during High Holydays around this same time period.)
- Robert Levine, husband of Mary Tyler Moore
- Tiger Woods ("No, I'm not talkin' 'bout Tiger Woods".)
- Happy Gilmore, Sandler's title character in the 1996 film
- Bruce Springsteen, who "isn't Jewish", but "[Sandler's] mother thinks he is".
- Daryle Lamonica, who was not claimed as Jewish but was included simply because his name rhymed with Hanukkah
Part III (2002)
Persons referenced in "The Chanukah Song, Part III":
- Ross (David Schwimmer) and Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) from Friends
- David Lander (Squiggy) of Laverne & Shirley
- Debra Messing
- Melissa Gilbert (was adopted by a Jewish mother and raised in her faith)
- Michael Landon (Landon, whose father was Jewish, grew up practicing Conservative Judaism and is buried in a Jewish cemetery.)
- Jerry Lewis
- Ben Stiller (Stiller's dad Jerry Stiller was Jewish, and mom Anne Meara, who was of Irish Catholic background, converted to Judaism).
- Jack Black (dad converted to Judaism, mom was born Jewish.)
- Tom Arnold ("converted to Judaism, but you guys can have him back! Just kidding”)
- Deuce Bigalow (Rob Schneider—see note below)
- Mickey Raphael (referenced by Schneider as "The guy in Willie Nelson's band who plays harmonica")
- Osama bin Laden, who is "not a big fan of the Jews".
- Sarah Hughes (half-Jewish; "her mama's Jewish")
- Harry Houdini
- David Blaine (his mother was Jewish)
- Gwyneth Paltrow (Jewish father)
- Jennifer Connelly (Jewish mother)
- Lou Reed
- Perry Farrell
- Beck (maternal grandmother was Jewish)
- Paula Abdul
- Joey Ramone
- Natalie Portman (as "Natalie Portmanika")
Also, in an unedited version that Sandler sings at some of his comedy shows, he replaces the lyric "As for half-Jewish actors/Sean Penn is quite the great one/And Marlon Brando's not a Jew at all/But it looks to me like he ate one" with "Gwyneth Paltrow's half-Jewish/But a full-time Oscar winner/Jennifer Connelly's half-Jewish, too/And I'd like to put some more in her". While this version is not played on radio stations, the music video shows a background screen showing a picture of Sandler licking his lips as the Jennifer Connelly lyric is sung, with shocked laughter coming from the audience. This version is hidden about four minutes after the edited version on the Eight Crazy Nights soundtrack.
Although Sandler does not actually mention Schneider by name as part of the song, he mentions Deuce Bigalow, a character played by Schneider, in the lyric, "but we can do it all night long, with Deuce Bigalow" (the "you can do it" line is also a reference to Schneider's recurring "townie" character that originally appeared in The Waterboy). As Sandler mentions Bigelow, Schneider walks on stage, yells, "I'm Jewish!", and joins in for an abbreviated chorus. After the chorus, he sings a Jewish reference for the song (Mickey Raphael, see above), using an Elvis-esque vocal tic, to which Sandler seemingly ad libs "tiny Elvis, ladies and gentlemen, tiny Elvis!" (a reference to a Saturday Night Live skit Schneider performed with Nicolas Cage; and possibly also to Elvis Presley, who was halakhically Jewish on account of his maternal great-great-grandmother) In the rehearsal version, Sandler then gives an aside of, "Schneider, I did not even know you were Jewish," to which Schneider replies, "I'm a Filipino Jew, in fact, I've gotta run home and light the first pig!" In the aired version, Schneider states, "I'm a Filipino Jew." When Sandler muses, "Filipino Jew?" Schneider responds, "There are four of us." He then puts on a blonde wig and joins the "Drei-dels," the backing chorus of children, to whom he is already similarly dressed.
Part IV (2015)
Sandler first performed this version at a live Judd Apatow & Friends event, part of the New York Comedy Festival, in November 2015. Lyrics can be found at the Huffington Post link here.
Persons referenced in "The Chanukah Song Part IV":
- Olaf (Josh Gad)
- Punky Brewster (Soleil Moon Frye)
- Judd Apatow (in original performance only)
- Scott Rudin
- "Me" (Adam Sandler)
- Joseph Gordon-Levitt
- Stan Lee
- Jake Gyllenhaal (mother is Jewish)
- The two guys who founded Google (Larry Page and Sergey Brin)
- Adam Levine
- Drake (mother is Jewish)
- Seth Rogen
- Bill Goldberg
- Scarlett Johansson (mother is Jewish)
- Geddy Lee
- Jonas Salk
- Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe)
- Jared from Subway (Jared Fogle) ("Goddammit, a Jew!")
- Dr. Drew
- Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher)
- Queen Elsa from Frozen (Idina Menzel)
- David Beckham ("a quarter chosen")
- Ron Jeremy ("fully Jewish")
- Shia LaBeouf (Jewish mother, "half a Jew")
- Ice Cream's Ben & Jerry (Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield)
Covers and spoofs
Jimmy Fallon impersonated Adam Sandler during a Celebrity Jeopardy! sketch on Saturday Night Live on October 24, 1998. In the sketch, Fallon, as Sandler, interrupts Will Ferrell's Alex Trebek by playing guitar and singing (to the tune of the song's chorus and first few verses), "Robert De Niro, Bela Lugosi, Snuffleupagus, and Parker Posey!" (In keeping with the Celebrity Jeopardy! conceit of all of the responses being wrong, none of those people were Jews; De Niro, Lugosi and Posey were all raised Roman Catholic, and Snuffleupagus puppeteer Jerry Nelson had no publicly known religion.)
In 2004, Jewish-Australian pop-punk band Yidcore covered it as "The Punk Rock Chanukah Song" in which they list Jews involved with punk music.
This song was covered on two different occasions for the Broadway charity albums "Carols for a Cure." In 2006, the cast of Broadway's The Wedding Singer sang the first installment of the song, led by Constantine Maroulis, and featuring help from violinist Alicia Svigals. In 2013, the song was covered once again by the cast of Soul Doctor, however this time, the lyrics covered Jewish Broadway personalities, including Mandy Patinkin, Andrew Lippa, Harvey Fierstein, Harold Prince and others. These lyrics were written by the show's Shlomo actor Eric Anderson, who himself has been pointed out in the song as "not a Jew."
In 2008, Unitarian-Universalist Evan Austin performed a parody of this song called "The Chalica Song" about the Unitarian-Universalist holiday of Chalica. Austin lists celebrities and historical persons who are "Unitarian-Universalists. Or Unitarians. Or Universalists. Or people with similar ideas." In 2009, Austin recorded "The (Second) Chalica Song"  with the same tune, but a new list of names.
In 2009, a cover of the song by Neil Diamond was released on A Cherry Cherry Christmas. This version featured several changes in lyrics, including the change from "Tom Cruise isn't but I heard his agent is" to "Tom Cruise isn't, but Jesus Christ is".
- "SNL: 12/3/1994 (Roseanne/Green Day) - Weekend Update segment". SNL transcripts. 3 December 1994. Retrieved 15 November 2011.
- Charlton, James; Shatzkin, Mike; and Holtje, Stephen. The Ballplayers: Baseball's Ultimate Biographical Reference. (New York: Arbor House/William Morrow, 1990), pp. 155-156. ISBN 0-87795-984-6.
- Jenkins, Gary (March 1999). Harrison Ford: Imperfect Hero. Kensington Books, 9–12. ISBN 0-8065-8016-X.
- "Adam Sandler Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
- "Adam Sandler Chart History (Adult Pop Songs)". Billboard.
- "Adam Sandler Chart History (Alternative Airplay)". Billboard. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
- "Kravitz Sets The Record Straight". Illawarra Mercury. May 24, 2004. Retrieved October 14, 2012.
- "Jennifer Beals Interview - Apr 2004". www.thelwordonline.com.
- Chandler, Adam (August 16, 2012). "Elvis Presley: Jewish King of Rock" Archived 2013-12-03 at the Wayback Machine. Tablet.
- "YouTube". www.youtube.com.
- The Chalica Song, Youtube.com
- The (Second) Chalica Song, Youtube.com
- Neil Diamond Covers Adam Sandler's 'Chanukah Song', Steve Baltin, Spinner.com, September 29th 2009