As the holiday season is kicking into full swing, I have found myself wondering one question more than usual: where are all the Hanukkah movies?
Sure, there is Eight Crazy Nights, but I’m talking about good Hanukkah movies. If you’re not Jewish, then you probably never think about the lack of good Hanukkah movies. And why would you? Especially when you consider the millions of Christmas movies and television specials that exist to occupy all of your time from Black Friday until the end of the year (well, not really millions, but you get my point). But for a Jewish, pop-culture addict like myself, I find this lack of content frustrating. If you want a better understanding of my feelings, this classic Simple Plan song sums it up pretty well.
Now, this isn’t to say Hanukkah is never seen in the world of entertainment. In fact, there are some pretty good Hanukkah-centered episodes of television. The OC’s “Chrismukkah,” Friends’ “The One With the Holiday Armadillo,” and the almighty classic Rugrats’ “Chanukah,” all come to mind.
But it still brings me back to this question: why, in an industry often said to be run by Jews, is the Festival of Lights so overshadowed by Christmas movies, songs, and TV specials? I understand that, while they are often compared to one another due to the time of year they fall, Hanukkah is a fundamentally different holiday than Christmas. Christmas is about Jesus being born to the Virgin Mary while Hanukkah tells the story of the Jews’ temple being re-dedicated and there miraculously being enough oil to keep the menorah lit for eight days while they cleaned up and made repairs. But at their core, both stories feature miracles. So why is Hanukkah the one holiday that is constantly short shrifted?
If you ask “serious Jews,” they will likely say it’s because, in the grand scheme of things, Hanukkah isn’t all that important to the religion. And it’s true. Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah and Pesach are holidays that are far more important to Judaism. So if one were to *hypothetically* make a Hanukkah movie, they wouldn’t have to worry about whether it trivializes Judaism or monetizes a sacred day.
Some Jews may also argue that the lack of Hanukkah movies is due to the fact that they only represent about 2% of the American population. But if the right story was produced, I honestly believe it wouldn’t matter; it would be important enough to get every Jewish family to the movie theater. I mean, what is that cliché thing Jews do on Christmas Day again? Watch movies and eat Chinese food.
But you know what? Enough is enough. It’s 2017. It’s time we move away from only showcasing Hanukkah in an episode of television where a token Hanukkah-observant character shares their customs and provides a little background on the holiday. I want to see the entertainment industry start making the Hanukkah versions of The Santa Clause, Elf and all of those cheesy-but-classic Lifetime/Hallmark movies. Is that honestly too much to ask for? I don’t think so.
Unfortunately, though, I’m not a part of the Hollywood landscape, nor do I have any desire to be. As a result, I have no authority to make this change happen. So when it comes down to it, I’m still just a Jew in search of the perfect Hanukkah movie. But if I’m asked what I really want for Hanukkah? I’m going to say all I want is news, any sort of news, about a Hanukkah movie being in the works.