Tonight I plan to watch “Doubt.” I want to compare a priest’s abuse of children with choir practice at my synagogue. Yes, having a good voice and worse vanity, I was lured into joining the choir. Since I can’t read music or Hebrew, you can imagine the choir’s exacting standards. But if you can clear your throat in rhythm, no one will know the difference.
Last night, making my debut, I pondered one of the great mysteries of Judaism. Why is it easier to develop an atomic bomb than a good Hanukkah song? It took two years for the boychiks of Los Alamos to harness the chain-reaction; in 2000 years we have yet to compose a Hanukkah song that doesn’t appall any sentient adult. We are not a tone-deaf people. Every gentile on Tin Pan Alley could be counted on the fingers of a three-toed sloth–and the sloth would still have three paws free for knitting a tallith.
We have such a surplus that we lend ourselves to other ethnic groups. For “West Side Story”, Leonard Bernstein is the greatest Puerto Rican composer. And do I need to mention who wrote many of our most popular Christmas songs? “White Christmas” perhaps expressed Irving Berlin’s relief that his blood wasn’t on the snow.
But Hanukkah? I think that even George Gershwin admitted the exasperation: “But Not For Me.”
And let’s not forget the historical significance of this day: http://finermanworks.com/your_rda_of_irony/2008/12/12/apocalypse-then-december-12-627/