By Orrin Hatch
In 1999, Jeff Goldberg, a reporter for the Atlantic Monthly and other media, suggested I write a Hanukkah song. If I recall it correctly, I played him some of the songs I had done, and he asked me if I had ever considered writing a Hanukkah song. He said, “We don’t have a great Hanukkah song, and it would be good if you could do it.” I told him that I would; however, I was running for president at the time and didn’t get around to it.
In 2008, I read a blog that Jeff had written about our “almost” collaboration on a Hanukkah song. He indicated that he asked me to write it but that I had not gotten around to it. I decided that I couldn’t let the time pass by again without writing about this miracle – the story of Hanukkah.
I penned some stanzas and sent them to Jeff. He thought it was a good start, and I finished up the song with a very dear friend of mine, Madeline Stone, a wonderful Jewish woman who lives in both New York and Nashville, Tennessee. Madeline is a very fine composer with whom I have written a number of songs. Madeline was thrilled to be asked to participate in this endeavor. In fact, she immediately began to write the music to go with my lyrics. Between the two of us, we came up with this song, hoping that all those in the Jewish community would appreciate it and the significant message it contains.
I’ve had a number of Jewish rabbis befriend me over the years. I have a great deal of respect and love for the Jewish people. One of my dearest friends was Rabbi Baruch Korff, who was fairly controversial as one of the supporters of Richard Nixon. He spent quite a bit of time with me talking about Israel and Judaism. As a Mormon, I have always been a supporter of Israel and the moderate Arab community in the Middle East. I appreciate the history of Israel and the Jewish people, and, especially, the history of hardships and trials the Jewish community has suffered over the years, especially during the Second World War. The Jewish community has had to overcome great prejudice, oppression, and hardship. In the process, people of my faith have always been the strongest supporters of Israel, and the Jewish community.
I hope that Madeline and I were able to capture the miracle of what is celebrated during Hanukkah.
Kudos to Jeff Goldberg, a wonderful journalist, who encouraged us to do this song. It was great to have him in the studio when this song was produced.
Orrin Hatch is a U.S. Senator from Utah.