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Going Viral

Sunday, 13 December 2009

What is it that makes certain links go viral?

As of this writing, a Chanukah song by Senator Orrin Hatch has gotten over 135,000 hits. One hundred, thirty-five THOUSAND. And it’s not even that good of a song.

In recent days, I have received a link to this insipid, parody-like ditty from more than two dozen folk. (The video clip reminded me of an SNL short.) With one exception, all of the senders are members of the baby-boomer or greatest generation. Not an insignificant observation.

That the overwhelming majority of those who have gleefully forwarded this atrocious Chanukah song by Senator Hatch are of a certain age points to an underlying, and probably unarticulated, sense of discomfort. For several generations, we Jews have done everything possible to fit in with our non-Jewish neighbours. Often to the detriment of our Judaism. No matter how hard we try, we still sense that on some level we don’t really belong.

So when some like Johnny Mathis covers Kol Nidre or the Temptations record If I Were A Rich Man?, we feel validated.

“See? We really do belong. Non-Jews want to record OUR songs!”


“See? We really do belong. A non-Jewish (Mormon, no less) senator has written a Chanukah song.”

And then we forward it to every single Jew on our buddy list as if this is proof that we have been fully accepted into American society.

You want to send around a link that will make you feel good…REALLY good…about being a Jew? Send this one. This story has the power to bring healing to our world. This story illustrates who we are. And what life is like in a place where we truly belong.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Sunday, 13 December 2009 1:51 am

    Hatch’s song is terrible. I love the Gordis story. Been reading it on and off for a few days, just beautiful.

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Monday, 14 December 2009 12:40 pm

      Me too. I am moved every time by the story. It is just incredible.

  2. Sunday, 13 December 2009 12:53 pm

    Perhaps the significance of the song and its celebrity status this week is not just that Jews of a certain era are elated to be noticed by the Christian majority, but that the outsider Mormons are trying to reach out and connect with us as fellow outsiders. Members of the LDS church are generally not fully accepted by other Christians, especially the evangelical crowd. Many question that they are Christian at all. Maybe the song has nothing to do with us at all!

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Monday, 14 December 2009 12:42 pm

      That’s an interesting thought. I agree that the song has very little to do with us. However, I do know that we are the ones making a big tsimmis (to mix food metaphors!) over it. And I suggest that the reason has more to do with our own insecurity and less to do with the musical merits of the song and its authorship.

  3. Nancy D. permalink
    Sunday, 13 December 2009 7:41 pm

    I think Hatch’s link became viral and the song has received so much notoriety because, since the song was released, people have been duped into believing that Hatch really IS eccumenical and he really WANTS to reach out to people of ALL faiths, and he really is just a misunderstood, swell, guy (if tone could be conveyed via e-mail, mine would be sarcasm here). Well, this Jew-by-Choice isn’t buying it. I’ve heard Hatch’s comments on the floor of the Senate and I’ve read some of his hateful comments. Until tonight, I hadn’t listened to the song because Hatch represents everything I dislike about many staunch, hard-core conservatives in the Senate and I wasn’t interested in anything Hatch had to say, especially anything having to do with Judaism. For me, his authorship of a song about a minor Jewish festival (released NOW, just before a significant Christian celebration) only further illustrates the fact that to 99% of Christians, Channukah = the “Jewish Christmas” and his song doesn’t change the way I feel about Hatch.

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Monday, 14 December 2009 12:48 pm

      Your sarcasm actually came through just fine 🙂

      Several of the emails I was sent stated clearly that the sender was not making any type of political statement. Many others, however, have said things such as “to all my Democratic friends…” or “see? now we know that he is really on our side.”

      I wouldn’t be surprised if some of these folks composed a song entitled “What a Friend We Have in Orrin?” (Betcha thought I was gonna say someone else!!!)

  4. Sunday, 13 December 2009 9:42 pm

    well said, frume sarah. the gordis piece was beautiful.

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Monday, 14 December 2009 12:49 pm

      Thanks! Danny Gordis is such a passionate writer. But this was one of his most moving columns.

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