Video posted by KristinChenowethVEVO
And an informal acoustic cover of "I'll by Home for Christmas," sung by Jason and Michael Castro:
Video by Jason Castro (Yes, the 'stache is unfortunate.)
The song, wistful and haunting, was first recorded in 1943, and became an instant hit, resonating strongly with soldiers at the front during WWII as well as with their families. It still speaks to those who can't be with their loved ones during the holidays.
As for the writers:
A few years back, Wikipedia said that lyricist Kim Gannon was Jewish; currently, however, it says Irish-American. I cannot, in fact, find any source that says he was Jewish, so I think it's safe to say he was not.
Buck Ram has co-writing credit on the song, but there's considerable controversy over whether or not he should. He certainly copyrighted a song (originally a poem) with that title, but it is not clear that Kent and Gannon saw that song before coming out with theirs, nor is any similarity--aside from the title--between the two songs. However, Ram sued and won, so the credit is his. Either way, Buck Ram...might have been Jewish. Wikipedia now says he was, but in the past it did not, and the source cited for his Jewishness says he was born and grew up in New York, while all the other sources I can find (including Wikipedia) says Chicago. AllMusic just describes his parents as "upwardly mobile," which might be code for Jewish, or it might mean, you now, upwardly mobile. So...maybe? Ram started out as a violinist and showed promise until he fractured his hand playing football. He graduated law school and passed the California bar but never practiced law; instead he went into music arranging and writing and later turned his hand (very successfully) to talent management and music production.
So we have one "no" and one "maybe" (on two counts)--but so far as I can tell, the composer of "I'll Be Home for Christmas," Walter Kent, was indeed the composer and was indeed Jewish. (He was originally named Walter Maurice Kaufman, which certainly lends credence to the claim.) I couldn't find out much online about him, but as well as writing songs, he was a composer, orchestra leader--and a practicing architect. Somehow, though, he managed to write music for a dozen movies, collecting two Oscar nominations for Best Song along the way, in addition to his stand-alone songs. Busy man!
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