15 Hanukkah Movies and TV Specials to Watch During the Festival of Lights

Photo: Columbia Picutres/YouTube

There is a funny misconception among the Gentiles that Hanukkah is one of the most important religious holidays in Judaism, i.e. the Jewish Christmas. Not to be Jewish (the “Jewish miser,” obviously), but that simply isn’t the case. Hanukkah is actually one of us less Religious holidays – but important nonetheless. Hanukkah commemorates the historically accurate story of a Jewish revolt against forced assimilation by the Greeks. It happened in 167 B.C., which is generally seen as going beyond the era of writing Jewish religious texts. Therefore, celebrating Hanukkah is less about a religious duty than it is about celebrating how difficult it is for us to indulge (and still indulge) in antisemitic eccentricities.

Given the dramatic elements of the Hanukkah story (the oppression, the bloodshed, really the Hash Brown), one would think that this story would inspire thousands – if not millions – of media interpretations, yet the amount of Hanukkah movies and TV episodes is very limited. Unfortunately, at a time when many need to be reminded of the painful reality of anti-Semitism – and the consequences of having sex with and being discovered by Jews – we need these stories now more than ever. That’s why, to celebrate this week’s ongoing festival of lights/dubbing on anti-Semitism, we’ve put together a list of the best Hanukkah movies and specials.

In 1995, the heads of Jewish children everywhere exploded when Adam Sandler performed “The Hanukkah Song” for the first time in SNL. Its success led to the release of three additional versions of the song as well as an animated feature whose title is a reference to the famous clip, “Instead of one day of presents, we get eight crazy nights!”

Make no mistake: Eight crazy nights Not a children’s movie. While the song is a whimsical list of Jewish celebrities meant to make Jewish kids feel more included during the holiday season, the movie is meaner and darker–but no less heartfelt. In the musical, Sandler plays Davy Stone, an alcoholic orphan whose parents died during Hanukkah when he was a child. Now an adult, Davey terrorizes his small town during the holidays because he refuses to process his trauma. No seriously. Davey gets in trouble with the law and must do community service under a strange old man who teaches him to love the holidays (and basketball?) again. There’s a lot going on with this movie, and it’s not all that good, especially if that Sandler brand of humor isn’t your thing. Still, the film retains much of Sandler’s authentic, schmaltish heart (his wife expresses a love interest for the movie) and gives Jewish kids young and old a taste of their own holiday spirit.

On the other side of the family movie collection from Eight crazy nights He is The perfect court miracle. part of the DCOM Code, The perfect court miracle It tells the story of a Jewish middle school basketball team that seeks coaching help from a college basketball star during the Hanukkah season. It’s based on the true story of Lamont Carr, an injured University of Virginia basketball star who is asked to help coach Boca Raton basketball camp (over Easter, ironically). Like all DCOMs – and all good things about the holiday season – this one is cheesy and nostalgic.

When it comes to making Jews proud, nobody does it better than Rugrats. Full transparency, I’m a Rugrats Easter is first and foremost, but “A Rugrats Chanukah” is a close second. This episode focuses on children who learn about the “meaning of Hanukkah,” which their children’s brains have translated into “Stingy Hanukkah.” The vile of Hanukkah is, of course, the friend of Grandpa Boris at the synagogue who keeps outsmarting him in the Hanukkah skit. The kids decide to avenge their grandfather Boris, and along the way, we somehow learn the true story of Hanukkah.

Hebrew hammer is a silly movie that, like Santa, has to be seen to be believed. In it, the title character (think Shaft but Jewish) must fight Santa Claus after he announces his plan to destroy Hanukkah and Kwanzaa in an effort to take over Christmas. In many ways, this parody of exploitation films has aged as poorly as you’d expect, but the overarching theme of Jewish and Black solidarity remains strong throughout.

Well known for its arsenal of Christmas movies, Hallmark recently starred in the Festival of Lights, too. Enters Love, lights, Hanukkah Starring Mia Kirschner (Jenny Polarized in the original L word) and Ben Savage (Korean on Boy meets world, clearly). In the film, Kirchner’s character, who is adopted, learns through a DNA test that she is 50 percent Jewish and ends up finding her family during the Hanukkah season. For Hallmark, this 2020 movie was a floppy foray into the Hanukkah canon but a good start nonetheless.

For its sophomore season of Hanukkah movies, Hallmark has been a huge hit Eight gifts from Hanukkah. In this highly entertaining film, ophthalmologist Sarah Levin (Israeli actress Inbar Lavi) receives a gift from a secret admirer every night of Hanukkah. She doesn’t know who could be sending these gifts, but she sure couldn’t just be Daniel’s friend (played by degrassi Hunk Craig Epstein), right?!

While the Hallmark entry into the Hanukkah canon was bland and clumsy, Lifetime’s trajectory was much more turbulent. From the jump, it’s no secret that this Hanukkah movie is actually, shockingly, a Christmas movie. In the film, ambitious game CEO and devoted Christmas celebrater Christie (pitch perfectKelley Jakle) is tasked with wooing a Jewish client during the Hanukkah season. Christy makes a pact with Jonathan’s history teacher (Craig Epstein again, the only guy to celebrate Hanukkah, it seems) to teach each other about their winter holidays so Jonathan can impress his girlfriend’s father and Christy can get a reckoning. In the end, Jonathan and Christy learn about love and the true meaning of Hanukkah: Christmas.

While very different from the Hebrew hammer In terms of content, tone, and relevance, American tail Yet he is similarly insane on paper. This Steven Spielberg animated film follows a Jewish mouse named Fievel Mousekewitz (yes) whose family is banished from Russia by anti-Semitic cats while celebrating Hanukkah. From there, Fievel and his family must take a trip to America where, according to Fievel’s father, “there are no cats.” Fievel gets lost on the trip and has to find his family while navigating 19th century New York City, which, surprisingly surprisingly, already has a lot of cats.

If it wasn’t obvious, this is all a metaphor for Jewish immigration during the pogroms in Russia, and this movie musical pulls it off really well. However, be somewhat warned: Where the film is heavy in its poignant exposition of the plight of American Jews, it’s a little light on traditional holiday cheer. However, this spirited classic does a great job of reflecting the Jewish triumph that can also be found in the Hanukkah story.

If you’re a millennial who lives and breathes 2004, then you know teen melodrama O.C Everything and the end of it all was wonderful. Fortunately for us Jews, O.C He made sure to include Hanukkah in his exquisite repertoire, and thus “Chrismucca” was born. A little explanation of Chrismukkah for all the Gen Zers out there: Chrismukkah is the holiday mix of Christmas and Hanukkah created by main character and half-Jewish stuntman Seth Cohen (Adam Brody). I hope this helps you!

Any Jew who knows his way around Nanny knows that The Nanny is one of the most Jewish shows to ever grace our television screens. But did you know that it wasn’t nearly as well? Apparently, television executives wanted Drescher to make her character Italian so that she would be more attractive to American viewers. Drescher refused and continued to make the offer as Jewish as she could. Season 6’s Hanukkah episode is a perfect example of this. Fran tries to get the whole Sheffield family to celebrate Hanukkah, but Maxwell and Gracie get into a car accident when they skip the festivities. Fortunately, through the miracle of Hanukkah, everyone eventually returns to light the menorah.

In keeping with the “Christmas envy” tradition of Hanukkah plots, this is Season 7 friends In the episode, Ross tries to convince his son, Ben, that Hanukkah is as good as Christmas. And, of course, how does one do that by dressing up as a giant armadillo and teaching Ben the story of the Maccabees? That’s weird, fun, and then weird again – perfect Hanukkah vibes!

Goldberg is one of the more Jewish shows to come out in recent years, and the “Christmas” episode is no exception. In it, Beverly’s Jewish classic “Smother” tries to compete with the neighbors to make Hanukkah as exciting as Christmas. In doing so, she inadvertently turns Hanukkah into Christmas, losing the meaning behind the holiday. In the end, she learns from her mistakes and the family celebrates this knowledge in the most Jewish way: eating Chinese food at Christmas.

In the eighties and nineties, Sesame Street He produced a series of Jewish educational specials entitled Shalom Simsim. one of these, Shalom Sesame HanukkahAdvantages Sesame Street The gang (plus some of their Israeli counterparts) brace themselves for Hanukkah’s antics. This is really a nostalgic appropriation of any of my fellow Jews in the ’90s whose parents put them in front of this to try and distract them from Rudolph.

Available to rent/buy on Amazon

Another ’90s deep cut, Hanukkah special lamb Features Shari Lewis f Mutton chops The gang learns about Hanukkah. Again, this is more of a nostalgic choice than something that might capture the attention of a full-fledged adult. However, for those looking to soothe their inner Jewish child (or perhaps those with a child – Authentic Mutton chops viewers of childbearing age now), look no further than Shari and Lamb Chop.

Hanukkah is rye It’s 2022’s Hallmark shot at a Hanukkah movie, and it’s poised to be the network’s biggest hit yet. the plot? Two feuding delicacies unexpectedly fall in love during the Hanukkah season — and Christmas isn’t part of the plot. Need we say more?!

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