As if 2016 hasn’t been surreal enough, Christmas and Hanukkah coincide this year. Taking notice of the holiday mash-up are Jamie Elman and Eli Batalion, the boychiks over at YidLife Crisis, a Yiddish-language webseries that follows the shenanigans (or rather, mishegas), of two bilingual, liberal Jews with a penchant for merriment.
Enter their “Crisismukkah” special, a fake commercial for a holiday album. Wearing ugly Hanukkah outer layers modeled on Christmas sweaters on a set that looks like Santa and Chanukah Harry jointly vomited kitsch into a living room, Jamie and Eli present us with the music that will really bring celebrants of different holidays together: The YidLife Crisis Guide to the Holiday Classics.
This, it turns out, mostly involves translating Christmas songs into Yiddish (with English subtitles for Anglos), and injecting them with Jewish humor (“Yingl Belz,” “Little Drummer Boychik,” e.g.). There’s also the section where they try presenting Hanukkah songs for door-to-door caroling (special mention to their parody of Fiddler‘s “Tradition,” and making it about Santa Claus).
The Yiddish duo also dedicates a section of their spoof to Yiddish takes on Christmas songs written specifically by Jews (which literally could be an entire album, because, you know, a metric ton of them were and continue to be). They sing: “Oh the music makes me want to vomit / And the stores are all closed, damnit! / There’s nowhere for Jews to go / Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.”
Perhaps, there is no act more Jewishly subversive than taking a song that a couple of Jews wrote to capitalize off of the dominant gentile culture by creating an artificial emotional resonance and turning it into a Jewish-language mockery of what it’s like to be a minority in said culture. Or maybe it’s just funny hearing Yiddish words to Christmas tunes.
In any case, thanks to the YidLife Crisis team for this early Hanukkah/Christmas/Chrismukkah gift. If the album were real, I would sure listen.
Gabriela Geselowitz is a writer and the former editor of Jewcy.com.