A viral clip of the 83-year-old music legend wishing a “Happy Chanukah” has recently resurfaced on the first night of the Festival of Lights. In 2020, Robinson made headlines when he recorded a video for his old neighbor in Detroit. Instead of pronouncing the holiday correctly, Robinson botched the sweet message by admitting he had no idea what “Chanukah” meant.
“Want me to wish you a happy Chanukah. I have no idea what Chanukah is, but happy Chanukah because they said so,” the singer said. “Anyways, God bless you, babe and enjoy Chanukah. Have a wonderful time.”
In the video message, Robinson pronounces the Jewish holiday as “Cha-noo-kah” rather than “Hanukkah”. Even though both spellings are correct, according to Britannica, the “Ch” can be confusing in terms of pronunciation. The footage was intended to be a Cameo present for user Jeff Jacobson’s mother. Cameo is a platform used to purchase personal videos from celebrities, and Jacobson and his brother decided to commission a video from Robinson.
Jacobson originally took to Twitter – now known as X – to share the video shoutout he received for his mother and explain the misunderstanding. The post was met with an abundance of comments, some people joking about Robinson’s mishap and others using it as an important lesson.
“As much as anyone might make fun of this, it teaches something great. Smokey gives well-wishes despite not knowing the holiday,” one person replied to the video. “Isn’t that exactly the behaviour we all want? A default setting to acceptance and goodwill even when we don’t understand.”
Now, three years later, Robinson is proving he does know about the holiday. Cameo recently reposted the viral video on TikTok, with the caption: “Hanukkah begins tonight which means we had to bring this back.”
Underneath the video, Robinson commented: “I know what it is now! Happy Chanukah.”
Fans continued to make light of the mistake, noting how they still find it funny three years later. “The best cameo ever made,” one person wrote, while another said: “Priceless. We must protect Smokey.”
“That cameo was worth every penny,” a TikTok user added.
“This is adorable,” one fan proclaimed, as another user wrote: “If Smokey says it’s Chanukah, it’s now Chanukah.”
However, one critic commented: “How does someone get to be his age and spend his whole life in show business and not know what Chanukah is?”
“That long in the music business and no Jewish friends is surprising, honestly,” another critic agreed.
The Independent has contacted Robinson’s representative for comment.