Poem Sampler

Hanukkah Poems

Classic and contemporary poems that celebrate Hanukkah and the Jewish faith.

by Becca Klaver
Hanukkah Poems
Len Radin

To celebrate the Festival of Lights—which in turn celebrates the Maccabees’ rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem in the 2nd century BCE—we bring you poems of Hanukkah and Jewish faith. Robin Becker, Jacqueline Osherow, and Charles Reznikoff conceive of their poems partly as prayers as they borrow the language of Jewish liturgy and ritual. The lines between poem, song, and prayer are intriguingly blurred by other poets as well: Solomon Solis-Cohen’s translates Mordecai Ben Isaac’s Hanukkah hymn, and Aileen Fisher’s blessing for the menorah is perfect for reading—or singing—alongside traditional prayers. Steven Schneider and John Repp depict food, dance, and other cultural traditions surrounding the holiday, while Emma Lazarus, Linda Pastan, and Marge Piercy meditate on family and community through the long lens of Jewish history. For further reading, browse the Poetry Foundation’s biographies and bibliographies of poets who write about Jewish faith and culture, starting with the list at the end of this feature.



In the Days of Awe” by Robin Becker

Light the Festive Candles” by Aileen Fisher

Rock of My Salvation” by Mordecai Ben Isaac

In the Jewish Synagogue at Newport” by Emma Lazarus

Autumn Psalm” by Jacqueline Osherow

Mosaic” by Linda Pastan

My mother’s body” by Marge Piercy

Honorary Jew” by John Repp

[‘The lamps are burning in the synagogue…’]” by Charles Reznikoff

Chanukah Lights Tonight” by Steven Schneider



The Jew and the Rooster Are One” by Gerald Stern



If the Psalms Aren’t Poetry, They’re Useless
Peter O’Leary and Alicia Ostriker, poets of different faiths
, come together over the Bible’s most celebrated lyrics. 



Yehuda Amichai

Joseph Brodsky

Marilyn Hacker

Edmond Jabès

A. M. Klein

Hilda Morley

Howard Nemerov

Alicia Ostriker

Grace Paley

Carl Rakosi

Lola Ridge

Jerome Rothenberg

Jane Shore

Louis Zukofsky

Originally Published: December 7, 2010


On December 21, 2011 at 3:26pm amy wrote:
Thank you for this!

On December 9, 2012 at 11:10pm Hanna Busse wrote:
Just to tell the nameless, faceless internet world about my life because
maybe then it's like some REAL person actually cares:
This is totally going to be my way of introducing my extended family to
what I'm actually studying in college. They'll get it a little more if it's
about Judaism, I think. So thanks for this.

And thanks for listening, world.


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Becca Klaver is the author of the poetry collection LA Liminal (Kore Press, 2010) and the chapbook Inside a Red Corvette: A 90s Mix Tape (greying ghost press, 2009). A founding editor of the feminist poetry press Switchback Books, she holds an MFA in Poetry from Columbia College Chicago and is currently a PhD student in Literatures in English at Rutgers University. Born and raised in Milwaukee, WI, she now lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Continue reading this biography

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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