These days most gentiles — that's non-Jews, folks — think Hanukkah is some sort of Christmas equivalent for God's chosen people. But the truth is, it's one of Judaism's more minor holidays, and was moved to the forefront only since secular pop culture believed the religion was getting the shaft during the so-called holiday season. Still, it seems like an appropriate time to consider some of our greatest Jewish pop and rock stars. We wondered what it would be like to have them swing by during the eight crazy nights of the Festival of Lights to spin a dreidel or two. This is what we came up with.
Neil Diamond: Neil Diamond is Jewish, yet he has recorded two Christmas albums. That's about as odd to us as Bing Crosby and David Bowie teaming up for a duet of "The Little Drummer Boy." But hey, we also can't imagine a more enthusiastic pop star to lead us through a house-shaking, sequin-filled performance of "Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel."
Paula Abdul: Everyone has that crazy aunt who spends the entire holiday blitzed out of her mind, whose only reason for being there is to entertain the kids while bubbe tries to keep her from spilling wine on the rugs. That's what Hanukkah with Paula Abdul would be like, except we wouldn't worry so much about the rugs.
Matisyahu: As much as we like Matisyahu's blend of reggae, rap, and traditional Hasidic teachings, the musical rabbi tends to get a bit preachy and mistakes energy for fun. However, we can't imagine a more interesting take on the singing of the Ma'oz Tzur hymn than what he'd bring to the after-candle-lighting tradition.
Susannah Hoffs, the Bangles: Susannah Hoffs walks like an Israeli, but she's also the stuff of our childhood dreams. We're not saying she'd have anything more to offer the eight-day celebration than her beautiful face and lovely voice, but, well, we are saying that's enough to satisfy at least a few of our childhood dreams.
David Lee Roth: We can't help but wonder what sort of gelt — traditionally coins, but these days gifts — Roth would hand out. We're just hoping he doesn't insist on scatting and dancing his way through it all.
Pink: Any family that gathers to celebrate traditional religious holidays, especially one as unsubstantial as Hanukkah is to Judaism, is probably also a bit conservative in its lifestyle. We're not saying Republican conservative. We just mean the family members are probably a bit more Ozzie and Harriet, or at least aspire to be. Pink is that second or third cousin with all the tattoos and colored hair that this particular breed of adults thinks needs to grow up and all the kids want to grow up to be like. Which means Pink would be the relative we most look forward to seeing during the holidays.
Gene Simmons, Kiss: The tongue trick never gets old. Plus his band knows a thing or two about pyrotechnics — and that could add an interesting twist to the lighting of the menorah.
The Beastie Boys: If we're talking the Beastie Boys around the late Eighties, maybe the early Nineties, then yeah, we would've loved to have had the Beastie Boys over for Hanukkah. Their fight for their right to party would have livened things up a bit. These days, though, they're all just kind of stuffy old dudes, probably more apt to sit on the couch and watch the news than spray a 40 on a caged stripper's body.