Heroic Songs for Chanukah

 After the establishment of the Zionist movement the Jewish calendar changed. The holidays were adjusted to the Zionist ideology. The nature of Chanukah was changed as well. The miracle of the oil became secondary to the victory of the Maccabees over the Greeks.  The story of the Maccabees had similar characteristics to the Jewish settlers in Palestine: they came back to the land of Israel after being in exile and had to struggle for their hold of the land in order to acquire political independence. Chanukah became the feast of the Maccabees and the heroic motif became central to the holiday's activities.


These massages can be identified in the songs that were composed at the time. The CZA's Printed Material Collection contains booklets that were printed around Chanukah time in the 1930's and 1940's. Below are selected poems that demonstrate the solidarity with the Maccabees and with the motif of Heroism.






"Hanucah Program" was published by the Jewish National Fund, Jerusalem, 1938 (DD1\6459)
"The lamp of the Maccabee" was written by Jacob Fichman. According to the song, the candles are lit to remind us of "the glorious and gallant Maccabee". The miracle of the oil is not mentioned.



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"Hanuka Programme" was published by the Youth Department of the Jewish National Fund, 1942 (DD1\6459)
"Go forth with strength" was written by Hayim Nahman Bialik, who calls his generation "sons of the Maccabees". He wrote that their mission was to reveal the lights.




"Classified Palestine Songs: Valour and Heroism" was published by the Jewish National Fund, Jerusalem, 1943 (DD1\6463). The booklet contains songs related to three holidays in which heroism is a central motif: Chanukah, Tel-Chai Day and Lag Ba'omer.
The song "Candles Shine" was written by Levin Kipnis. According to the song, we light the candles of Chanukah because of the victory of the Maccabees - the enemy was defeated and we won our freedom. The miracle of the oil is not mentioned here, too.
"Rejoice Maccabees" calls on the Maccabees to be happy since they have heard the flute which was played by the guard of Galilee. Here the Maccabees and the settlers of the time are conversing with each other. The Maccabees are satisfied with the settlers.