Christmas Music Sensory Overload? Blame it on the Jews…

From Virtual

Our Top 12: The Jews Behind the Christmas Songs

12. The Christmas Song

Written by Mel Torme and Bob Wells.
christmas songs written by jews

Mel Torme was born to Russian Jewish parents. Bob Wells was born Robert Levinson.

The two were a well known songwriting partnership.

This song was born in Toluca Lake, CA on a hot July day, When Torme arrived at Wells’ house, he found a spiral note pad of paper with some words on it “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose, Yuletide Carols being sung by a choir, folks dressed up like Eskimos.”

Wells had wanted to write a song for a completely different season “to cool off.” Torme recognized the potential in the lyric, and the rest of the song was written in 35 minutes.

11. You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch

Written by Albert Hague

christmas songs written by jews

Hague was born as Albert Marcuse to a Jewish family in Berlin, Germany who considered their Jewish heritage a liability, and raised him as a Lutheran. This was written and recorded for the 1966 Dr. Seuss TV Holiday Special How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Seuss wrote the lyrics and Albert Hague wrote the music.

10. Holly Jolly Christmas

Written by Johnny Marks

christmas songs written by jews

Though he was a Jew, Marks was also one of the most famous Christmas songwriters of all time. He appears on our list no less than THREE Times.

He was brought in for this project after impressing executives with the success of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

9. I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm

Written by Irving Berlin

christmas songs written by jews

Born Israel Isidore Beilin, Berlin was an American composer and lyricist of Belarusian-Jewish origin. This song was one of the numbers from the 1937 film musical On The Avenue, to which Berlin contributed the majority of the music.

8. Winter Wonderland

Written by Felix Bernard

christmas songs written by jews

Born Felix William Bernhardt to a Jewish family in New York City, Bernard was known for his great compositions.

This became one of the most popular holiday songs of all time.

7. Let It Snow!

Written by Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn

christmas songs written by jews

Born in London as Julius Kerwin Stein to Jewish immigrants from the Ukraine, Styne was a famous American songwriter.

Cahn was born Samuel Cohen in NYC and became obsessed with music shortly after his bar mitzvah.

Although this song is associated with Christmas, there is zero mention of the holiday in the lyrics.

6. Silver Bells

Written by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans

christmas songs written by jews

Livingston was born Jacob Harold Levison in Pennsylvania. Evans, also a Jew, stepped away from all organized religion, including his religious heritage, later in life.

This famous duo is also behind the classic standards and Academy Award winning numbers, “Buttons and Bows” and “Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be).”

5. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

Written by Johnny Marks

christmas songs written by jews

Marks’ second appearance on our list! Let’s start with the fact that Rudolph was originally named Rollo, or Reginald! The story of Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer was created in 1939 by Robert L. May, a copywriter for the Chicago-based Montgomery Ward department stores, as a promotional gift for customers. The stores had bought and distributed coloring books every Christmas and saw writing their own story as a way to save money. Marks was May’s brother in law, and after developing the lyrics and melody for it, the song was first released in 1949, selling an astonishing 2 million copies that year.

Click here for the rest of the list.


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