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7. Maoz Tzur

Reseda High School Holiday Concert December 1976

During December, I’m posting my Top 10 favorite holiday songs. Each song has a special story or meaning behind it for me. What stories or meanings do you have for your favorite holiday songs?

Speaking of singing in different languages, this holiday song is in Hebrew, and it’s for Hanukkah. Yes, there is a Hanukkah song other than the one by Adam Sandler, and this one is the real deal. It’s “Maoz Tzur.”

I sang this song only once in concert, and I’m still surprised that it even got on the set list. Our high school choral director, Margaret Barlow, was a wonderful person and a great teacher — and she was very Mormon. We even sang at her temple once. Do you know that Mormons give water and cubes of white bread for communion? I took it by mistake because I thought they were giving out snacks. Despite my theological faux pas, it was still an interesting experience to learn about other people’s faith.

That’s why I’m still grateful for the chance to sing “Maoz Tzur” at my school. I was able to share part of myself and my heritage with others. This is why I don’t get offended by people saying “Merry Christmas.” It’s their holiday, and they’re happy about it, so why not let them enjoy it? Instead of imposing political correctness and insisting that people suppress their celebrations, we should share the things that matter most to us. That’s what the holidays are all about.

In that spirit, here’s a video of a choir singing “Maoz Tzur” — in a church!