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Ocho Kandelikas

From the archives: Flory Jagoda’s popular holiday song has its roots in a Bosnian village

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(Illustration by India Amos, based on photo courtesy of Altaras Recordings.)

Among the small but respectable repertoire of songs available for Hanukkah celebrations, ranging from “Rock of Ages” to “The Dreidl Song,” is the lesser known, but also popular, children’s counting song, “Ocho Kandelikas.”

Written in Ladino (or Judeo-Spanish, as some call it), the song sounds as if it had been passed down over many generations. In fact, it was written just 25 years ago by Sephardic folk singer Flory Jagoda. The song’s Old World sound reflects her musical training, which began in the small village of Vlacenica, in Bosnia, where she grew up singing along with aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins.

Jagoda, who now lives in Virginia, has made it her life’s work to revive the music and language she grew up with, and which were virtually extinguished during World War II. To date, she’s produced four CDs featuring traditional and original compositions (many of them performed with her children and grandchildren). This is her story.

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Rachel Bortnick says:

I was delighted to see our beloved Flory recognized for all she does and the treasure she is!

Flory Jagoda received a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in 2002, and was a Master Artist in the 2002-2003 Apprenticeship Program of the Virginia Folklife Program Program at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. You can listen to the story of how she escaped from Zagreb on our website:

Geri Posner says:

What a cooincidence. I recently found
Ocho Kandelikas on the internet. I was
particularly interested in it because I am
a Spanish teacher. Last night I included
it in a sing-a-long I helped present—
at the JCC in Rockville. So it came full
circle. Everyone loved it.

Michael Cantor says:

There’s a great version by Yasmin Levy (a great ladino singer) on Eran Baron Cohen’s Hannukah CD from last year.

Of course, there’s also Latino-Jewish rap group Hip Hop Hoodíos’ potentially most well-known version of “Ocho Kandelikas” (it was featured on Vh1’s ’20 Most Surreal Hip-Hop Videos’ special). You can find it on their most recent greatest hits album “Carne Masada.”

Here’s the infamous video:

Hip Hop Hoodíos is a collective that includes members of Grammy-winning groups like The Klezmatics, Santana and Ozomatli. You can learn more about them here:

Something seems to have happened to Flory Jagoda’s website, but you can find out more about her on Wikipedia, and more about the Jewish community of the former Yugoslavia in the Encyclopedia at the Jewish Women’s Archive,


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Ocho Kandelikas

From the archives: Flory Jagoda’s popular holiday song has its roots in a Bosnian village

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