Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Chanukah Message from The Anti-Semitism Report

I thought I would share with you this song written by Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary called "Light One Candle."

The explanation of the significance of the song from here. You can get the lyrics here.

LIGHT ONE CANDLE (A Chanukah Song by Peter Yarrow)
By Stan Schroeder

If you’ve read my monthly biographies in the Shir Notes you know I enjoy writing about people (mainly Jews) who have in some way made our world better for me. Peter Yarrow, who is such a person, was born in New York City May 31, 1938 to Jewish parents who were immigrants from the Ukraine. He graduated from New York City's "High School of Music and Art" (as an art student) and then Cornell University (experimental psychology) in 1959. Yarrow met Noel "Paul" Stookey and Mary Travers in Greenwich Village, center of the mid-20th century American folk music revival. They formed the folk-singing trio of Peter, Paul, and Mary and soon were among the most successful in the business.

Among their many hits were If I Had a Hammer, This Land is Your Land, Blowin' in the Wind, Where Have All the Flowers Gone?, and Puff the Magic Dragon (lyrics by fellow Cornell student, Leonard Lipton, music by Peter Yarrow).

They mixed music with political and social activism. In 1963 the trio marched with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma, Ala., and Washington, D.C. They were also involved in many of the civil rights and social causes of the 1960s as well as protests against the Vietnam War. Although Yarrow did not have a religious upbringing, he later acknowledged a strong Jewish identification. He now speaks of tikkun olam when referring to the many projects he organizes and supports. He was also a leader in the movement to free Soviet Jews.

Yarrow has long been a peace activist. In 1983 he wrote the Chanukah song Light One Candle that would also be, in his words, “a call for peace and reconciliation". "When I wrote the song, I was forced to look inside myself," he said. He and his daughter, Bethany, traveled to the Middle East at the height of the first intifada. They visited the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and Syria plus other sites in Israel.

And, amazingly, Peter, Paul, and Mary still perform as a trio. Yarrow also performs with his daughter in a group called Peter, Bethany and Rufus.

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