As we are lighting the first candle of Hanukkah tonight, as the tradition of The Catcher in the Sand requires on any Jewish holiday, let us have a slightly different perspective on the holiday. As the holiday is besides candles and sufganiot (doughnuts) also about the Maccabees here are a few reflections of the holiday in art, music … and laughs.




Appreciation for Jewish military skills is not something as new as I thought. Medieval manuscripts already included scenes from the battles of the Maccabees. Here is a Leiden illuminated manuscript, 1 Maccabees and Flavius Vegetius Renatus – ‘Epitoma rei militaris’ (Book IV) painted at the end of the 12th century. This was actually a Latin treaty of military art which took the deeds of the Maccabees as one of the examples .




Here is the 15th century representation of the Battle between the Maccabees and the Bacchides as painted by Jean Fouquet.




Rubens’ The Triumph of Judah Maccabee is one of the most famous pieces of Renaissance art dedicated the story of the Maccabees. Interestingly enough the painting which can be found today in the Museum of Fine Arts in Nantes is the object of a dispute nowadays between France and Belgium, which claims its return more than 200 after it was part of the trophies Napoleon brought to France during the Napoleonic wars.




An 18th century painting by Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo represents the scene where The seven Maccabee brothers are condemned to death by Antiochus IV.

(video source Zadlem)


Out of the musical creations Haendel’s Judas Maccabeus Oratorio is one of the most famous – here is the overture.


(video source The Maccabees)


Nowadays the name The Maccabees belongs to an English indie rock band. How did they pick it? Well, they just flipped the Bible and picked a name, and the rest was (kind of) history. Here is a song called Ayla taken from Given To The Wild, an album released this summer.


(video source Uri Westrich)


They are of course not to be confused with The Maccabeats the a capella group originally formed in 2007 as the NYC Yeshiva University’s student vocal group and – yes! – this is a Hanukkah song.


(video source The Jimmy Kimmel Live Channel)


Even our friend (well ..) Mel Gibson became involved with a project of a film about Judah Maccabee. It looks like the project is on hold by now, but Jimmy Kimmel succeeded to obtain the trailer :-)


Hag Hanukkah Sameah! A Happy Hanukkah!