An original song, called “Chanukah,” dropped at midnight between December 5 and 6, shortly before the first night of the Festival of Lights and two months after Hamas launched deadly surprise attacks on Israel the morning of Simchat Torah.
“Chanukah” was co-written by two 2023 Torah Academy of Bergen County graduates: Yisroel Meth of Clifton — Izzy to his friends — son of Yehuda and Chantzie Meth; and Rafi Suss of Teaneck, son of Jason and Pnina Suss.
This pair of young musicians honed their talents in Studio 1600, the recording studio built at TABC during their junior year. Songs recorded there, including some featuring Mr. Meth’s and Mr. Suss’s instrumentals and vocals, can be found on Spotify and other digital music platforms.
These days, the two are on different continents. Mr. Meth is a freshman at Touro University, majoring in political science. Mr. Suss is in Jerusalem at the Aish Gesher gap-year yeshiva.
“I’ve been wanting to do a Chanukah song for a while, and then Rafi came to America after the October 7 attacks for a few weeks,” Mr. Meth said. “We were going to work on a project anyway and I said, why not a Chanukah song?”
They put it together in record time, no pun intended, because Mr. Suss was eager to get back to Israel.
The lyrics are taken from “Al Hanisim” — “For the Miracles” — recited in the grace after meals during the holiday. The opening words translate to “For the miracles and for the wonders and for the mighty deeds and for the salvations and for the victories that you wrought for our ancestors in their days and in this day. … in their time of great need, [You] upheld their cause, judged their case, and avenged their oppressors.”
“Izzy showed me a chord progression that he liked, and all we needed to do was make a melody,” Mr. Suss said. “He kept playing the progression over and over, and we kept humming till we found the right melody. We finished it in about half an hour.”
Mr. Meth, who plays drums, guitar, bass guitar, and piano, used all those instruments except the bass in recording “Chanukah.” Mr. Suss provided the vocals.
“Music is something that gives me a lot of peace of mind and enjoyment, but I never liked singing,” Mr. Suss confided. “I always liked playing instruments. But Mr. Jacob Spadaro at the TABC studio encouraged me to start singing.”
Mr. Spadaro, director of TABC’s music conservatory and a prolific musician and singer in his own right, said, “There are few things that bring me more joy as an educator than to see students continue their musical journey after graduation. From the moment they stepped into Studio 1600, Rafi and Izzy seized every opportunity they could to hone their craft, inspiring their peers to do the same.
“It was particularly moving to aid in Rafi’s development of his songwriting abilities and Izzy’s refinement of his production skills. I’m thrilled to hear their latest work and eagerly look forward to their future musical endeavors.”
Mr. Suss said he feels fortunate to work with Mr. Meth at this early stage of his career. “It’s only a matter of time before people get ahold of him,” he said. In fact, Mr. Meth was recently signed to Wildwood Productions, an independent record label headquartered in New York.
“Chanukah” is available on iTunes and on the streaming site Spotify. The duo wanted to donate any proceeds from the song to an Israeli cause, and Mr. Meth’s father suggested ZAKA.
ZAKA is a voluntary rescue and recovery organization with more than 3,000 volunteers ready to respond to any terror attack, disaster or accident. ZAKA volunteers, many of them ultra-Orthodox, are trained to deal with human remains in accordance with Jewish traditions. These volunteers worked day and night processing the remains of Israelis killed and mutilated by Hamas on October 7.
“During Chanukah, we are reminded how Hashem takes the light that we bring and expands it, making it shine and last far beyond what we can imagine,” Mr. Meth said. “Rafi and I stand firmly with our fellow Jews in Israel and hope to add a little extra light this holiday season with our music. We should all merit to see miracles and the final redemption.”
At this point, no performances are planned, but “If Rafi and I could be in the same place, I’d love to do a live show,” Mr. Meth said.