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November 24, 2021 4:23 pm
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Jewish A Cappella Group Drops ‘West Side Story’ Hanukkah Parody

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Six13 in the music video for “West Side Chanukah Story.” Photo: Screenshot.

The professional Jewish a cappella group Six13 released their annual Hanukkah parody song on Tuesday, inspired this year by Steven Spielberg’s upcoming film reboot of “West Side Story.”

The music video opens with a panorama of New York City, while the George Washington Bridge and nearby buildings appear as a menorah with all nine candles lit. The musical medley then goes on to feature puns on some of the biggest hits from Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim’s “West Side Story,” which debuted as a Broadway musical in 1957. The group changed the classic “Maria” to “Menorah,” and recreated “Tonight” as “Eight Nights.”

In a song based on the “West Side Story” track “America,” Six13 sings, “Chocolate money on Hanukkah/Latkes are crunchy on Hanukkah/Presents from Bubbe on Hanukkah/I want a puppy for Hanukkah!”

Six13 group member Michael Boxer told The Algemeiner, “our greatest goal is to spread the joy and pride that we derive from Judaism to as much of the worldwide Jewish community as possible. And to get that kind of traction, it’s absolutely crucial to be relevant.”

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“Whenever we’re deciding on what song or theme to base our yearly Hanukkah video on, while there’s definitely an allure to material that’s musically gratifying and challenging, we’re often first and foremost looking to latch on to what’s hot in mainstream pop culture,” he explained.

Spielberg’s highly anticipated reboot of the 1961 film version of “West Side Story” will be released in theaters on Dec. 10, shortly after the conclusion of Hanukkah. The acclaimed filmmaker will direct and co-produce the project, with an updated screenplay by Tony Kushner.

“The opportunity was ripe to tackle what we all consider to be one of the greatest masterpieces of all time, and we’ve had an incredible time doing it,” Boxer said of drawing inspiration from “West Side Story.”

“To call every aspect of it iconic is an understatement, and from a musical standpoint, there still hasn’t been anything like Bernstein’s compositions to this day.”

A number of Jewish locations are also featured in the music video, including the SAR High School, the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue, and the offices of the Manhattan Jewish Experience (MJE), an organization that invites young Jewish professionals to explore Jewish life and meet others. MJE sponsored the music video.

Watch the music video for “West Side Chanukah Story” below:

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