Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch is a prolific author of love songs and Christian spirituals, but it took about 10 years for Jeffrey Goldberg to cajole the “philo-Semite” Mormon into writing a Hanukkah song. Goldberg first floated the idea for “Eight Days of Hanukkah” as an aside in an interview prior to Hatch’s failed presidential bid, and though he thought the candle of inspiration had dimmed, it hadn’t. Last Dec. 23, he was emailed "five verses of a sincerely felt Hanukkah song" that he didn't quite believe came from Hatch. But on Christmas Eve, he got a call.
"What do you think of the song?" Hatch asked. "Senator, I love the song," Goldberg replied—and he did. "Of course I appreciate the absurdist quality to this project, but I also deeply appreciate Hatch's earnestness," Goldberg writes on Tablet. "His lyrics are not postmodern or cynical, which is a blessing, because I for one have tired of the Adam Sandlerization of Judaism in America." And voila, a recording session in New York—where Hatch proudly showed off the mezuzah he wears around his neck—and this song.
(Read more Orrin Hatch Hanukkah song stories.)