Meir Posner’s Akht kleyne brider (Eight Little Brothers) is a setting of Yiddish words by Aleph [Morris Abraham] Katz. The little brothers in the song refer at once to the Maccabee brothers and, through the number 8, to the eight days of the festival represented by the eight lights. Of course, the Maccabean victory was over forced religious assimilation by the Greco-Syrians and their prohibition of Judaic religious observances and practices—not one of emancipation from slavery, as the song suggests. But Katz reinterpreted the legend in contemporaneous terms of economic and social struggles against what was often cited as “economic slavery,” omitting any reference to the religious dimensions of the Hanukka story and invoking instead simply an ancestry of brave fighters who attained nobility through their tenacity. These sentiments infused much of Posner’s music. The arrangement here is by William Lyon Lee.
Poem: Aleph Katz
Sung in Yiddish
Eight little brothers create a great flame;
They sing silent songs of a noble ancestry.
Of an ancestry of fighters, brave and loyal,
Of proud victors who triumphed over slavery.
Eight silent witnesses, your light recalls
Our forefathers in a distant land.
Performers: The Western Wind
Translation: Abe and Gert Gershowitz
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