ISRAEL: Ma’oz Tzur – Yonina
Husband and wife duo Yoni & Nina Tokayer’s cover of the Chanukah classic Ma’Oz Tzur updates an 800-year-old song that has been popularly sung by Jewish communities around the world since the time of its original writing. The song itself is typical of Jewish tradition, it blends the joy and the sorrow of the Jewish experience suffering but surviving persecution. Ma’oz Tzur begins in appreciation and awe for God in saving the Jewish people, however, it goes onto memorialise suffering under Pharaoh during biblical times, the Babylonians and finally the Ancient Greeks – who are the villains of the Chanukah story as they attempted to destroy Jewish worship and practice in all of its forms. In an interesting act of cross-cultural confluence, the tune seems to have originated from an old German folk song, which is unsurprising considering that a vast amount of the Jewish diaspora lived in Germany for many centuries.