The force is with us this Hanukkah

Lior Melnick

BY ELLEN FUTTERMAN, EDITOR

Last year around this time we introduced you to Lior Melnick, a St. Louis native who is a member of the all-male Jewish a cappella group Six13. You might remember that for Hanukkah 2018, the group created a parody video entitled “Bohemian Chanukah,” based on Queen’s iconic “Bohemian Rhapsody” song and film about the band’s lead singer Freddie Mercury. “Bohemian Chanukah” amassed more than 4 million views.

On Dec. 13, the group released this year’s parody Hanukkah video, inspired by the Dec. 20 release of the latest and final film in the Star Wars franchise, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.” So far, it’s received more than 75,000 hits, but it’s expected to beat last year’s viral record.

“A Star Wars Chanukah,” opens as you might expect, with text scrolling upwards announcing that in a galaxy far, far away comes “Episode DCXIII: the Rise of Maccabee,” with the group harmonizing a Hanukkah blessing to the iconic, John Williams opening Star Wars theme. 

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“It is a dark time for the Jewish People,” says the text. “The Land of Israel has been overrun by the Greeks. The evil emperor Antiochus has banned all Torah learning, and his army has desecrated the Temple.” 

It then goes on to tell the story of Judah Maccabbee and his group of Jewish warriors as if it were a Star Wars movie.

Rather than reading my explanation, go watch the 3-minute video at: http://bit.ly/Six13-Star-Wars. My favorite part is the “Duel of the Fates” to decide the best Hanukkah food — latkes or sufganiyah (jelly doughnuts). 

Melnick, 29, who attended Solomon Schechter Day School (now the Saul Mirowitz Jewish Community School) and is a member of Traditional Congregation, sings bass throughout the video, but is featured only briefly in the Cantina scene because he was in St. Louis for Sukkot through much of the video shoot. His parents, Dr. Jeffrey and Ophira Melnick, still live here as do much of his family. Melnick now makes his home in New York where he works as a transportation engineer when he is not performing with Six13.

“We only ever perform as six people but there are actually nine fulltime members of the group now,” explained Melnick, who has been with the group for just shy of three years. “It allows us more flexibility to staff performances.”

In addition to parody videos for Hanukkah and Passover, Six13 performs dozens of live shows every year, ranging from synagogue venues to stage productions. The group just released its eighth studio album: “Lights.” It includes “A Star Wars Chanukah” and “Bohemian Chanukah,” as well as new original music by Six13.

Melnick says that while he misses spending Hanukkah in St. Louis with his family, he tries to get back here for Passover and Sukkot. And he plans to return here Oct. 18 when Six13 is scheduled to perform live as part of the Sababa Jewish Arts Festival. So get the date on your calendars now.