Culture, Politics, Religion

"Walk Like an Egyptian" Re-Tooled as a Chanukah Song by its Very Jewish Singer

Experiencing your annual frustration that all Chanukah songs suck?  Well, here’s a sweet surprise.  Check out Susanna Hoffs, pop star and former member of The Bangles, re-tool their 1985 mega-hit “Walk Like an Egyptian“, to “Nes Gadol Hayah Sham” , a song all about Chanukah, here in performance with the great Aimee Mann* and Ted Leo. It’s not just that Hoffs is Jewish, by the way; she has yichus. She is the granddaughter of the late Rabbi Ralph Simon, who served Congregation Rodfei Zedek, in Chicago’s South Side Hyde Park neighborhood from 1943-87, was President of the Rabbinical Assembly (Conservative), and was a leading founder of Camp Ramah in Wisconsin, and, therefore, the entire Ramah camping movement. He was a larger-than-life community rabbi for his historical moment of big house Judaism, and inspired countless people. See him here, with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Hoffs’s uncle and cousin, Rabbis Matthew and Joshua Simon, were also prominent rabbis
I grew up in that shul in the tail end of his career and the zenith of hers. It was bizarre seeing the old ladies in the shul navigating their confusion with pop culture, being awarenotaware and curious, but bewildered about the rabbi’s rock star granddaughter.  I even remember my parents clipping the newspaper ad  for her 1987 movie “The All-Nighter” — not the usual type of film to pique Dad’s interests, let’s put it that way. She never visited, to my recollection, in those mid-80s years, but her brother Jesse did once, around 1985 or so, and, when he asked his grandfather at kiddush to connect him to an authentic White Sox fan to “take him” to the next day’s game (on his tab), I was selected for this august task, an enthusiastic 10-year-old excited to go to a free game, oblivious to the fact that homey’s sister was in the Bangles.  That came later.  Happy Chanukah, everyone.
*By the way, Aimee Mann’s music is great and you should listen to it (especially the soundtrack to Magnolia).  But did you know that she is also in The Big Lebowski in a classic, toeless role?  Far out…

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