18 December 2006

Children of the Martyr Race

This afternoon, we walked up to Reed for the Portland Gay Men's Chorus holiday show. They did several Chanukah songs, including Rock of Ages -- not the "cleft for me" version that my husband the goy grew up with, but a translation of the Hebrew one called (well, transliterated as) Ma'oz Tsur. We sang it every year at this time when I was a kid growing up in a marginally-observant Reform Jewish family.

I was surprised, and intrigued, when the Chorus sang "children of the Maccabees," where I clearly remembered the line as "children of the martyr race." Surely this wasn't a 50-year-old Mondegreen? "Maccabees" works, and I thought it a masterful re-edit, if that's what it was. If you're unfamiliar with "Maccabee," Google "story of Chanukah" for the basics.

I did some Googling when we got home from the concert, enough to convince me that I hadn't hallucinated the memory. "Martyr race" is obviously un-PC, not because of "race," although that gives one pause also, but because of Zionism and the bloody intractable mess of Middle East politics since 1948. Interesting. I think I'd better leave it at that. But don't get me started on the spelling of Chanukah.

No comments: