When I was in high school, I didn’t know that Jewish punk existed. I often joked with my friend Dan Horowitz that he should start a “Heebcore” band called Hamotze Lechem MeinHorowitz, which was a pun on his last name and the blessing over bread. I suggested a metalcore cover of “Dayenu,” which would be screamed “Die! Die! Anu” (along the lines of the “Die! Die!” chant in Metallica’s “Creeping Death”). Hamotze Lechem MeinHorowitz never came to be, but Jewish punk (including, later on, a Jewish metalcore band) turned out to be real. And “Dayenu” was common to multiple bands!
It isn’t surprising that multiple bands chose to do Jewish punk versions of “Dayenu.” It’s probably the most appreciated melody in the Passover seder, which is the most widely observed traditional Jewish practice. (Note: The song title is spelled different ways by different artists.)
- Gefilte F*ck included “Diyanu” among the songs it recorded in 1992 and released after the group disbanded. “I thought the Passover song ‘Dayenu’ that I remembered so vividly from Sunday school needed to be screamed and played fast,” wrote guitarist Adam Bregman in the zine Mazel-Tov Cocktail.
- NOFX’s “The Brews,” from the 1994 gold album Punk in Drublic, is the number-one Jewish punk anthem. The band included a “Dayenu” chant toward the end of the song.
- G-d Is My Co-Pilot included two Passover songs, “Dayenu” and “Khad Gad Yo,” on its 1994 album, Mir Shlufn Nisht. For more information about the band and especially that album, read Chapter 4 of Tamar Barzel’s New York Noise: Radical Jewish Music and the Downtown Scene.
- The Australian Jewish punk band Yidcore included “Dayenu” on its debut album in 2001. “We decided we’d do a mitzvah and speed up the seder because there’s nothing more boring than … a seder,” said Yidcore singer Bram Presser upon introducing the song at a concert.
- Electric Menorah was a one-person band that started off by releasing three Hanukkah songs on MySpace in 2003. In 2008, Electric Menorah followed suit with three Passover songs, including “Dayenu.”
The cover of Electric Menorah’s PassOCore EP