It’s the holiday season, and one tradition for many people is to watch the many Christmas specials set around this time, whether it’s a classic feel-good movie, a stand-alone cartoon or an episode of one’s favorite show.
However, as much fun as it is to watch families come together and celebrate Christmas, it is always appreciated when movies and shows give Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, the spotlight. While specials centering around the holiday are not nearly as prevalent as those of Christmas, there are still quite a few worth giving attention to.
1. “A Rugrats Chanukah”
The beloved Nickelodeon cartoon about a group of adventurous babies never shied away from the fact that lead baby, Tommy Pickles, is Jewish on his mother’s side. This episode properly gives the spotlight to the Festival of Lights, as Tommy, his cousin Angelica and his friends, Chuckie, Phil and Lil, are brought to the local temple for a play that teaches them and the viewers about the meaning of Hanukkah. While there, Tommy’s grandfather settles a feud with an old rival.
2. Adam Sandler’s “Eight Crazy Nights”
Famous comedian Adam Sandler is certainly proud of his Jewish heritage and even wrote a song centered around Hanukkah that he has performed quite a few times on “Saturday Night Live.”
Released in 2002, this crude animated musical follows the story of Davey Stone, voiced by Sandler, a troublemaker with a dark past who finds himself with a chance at redemption after one strike too many. Over the eight nights of Hanukkah, Davey starts to turn himself around with the help of Whitey Duvall, an eccentric old friend also voiced by Sandler, while coming to terms with his past trauma.
3. “Friends: The One with the Holiday Armadillo”
Throughout its 10 seasons, “Friends” aired plenty of episodes set during Christmas. Season seven, episode 10 features Ross Geller, played by David Schwimmer, wishing to introduce his son Ben, played by a young Cole Sprouse, to the holiday.
In true “Friends” fashion, Ross has trouble, as Ben is more interested in the merriment of Christmas. Desperate, he tries to find a Santa suit but fails, instead using an armadillo suit to teach his son about Hanukkah.
4. “Full-Court Miracle”
Released in 2003, this Disney Channel Original Movie tries to bring a modern twist to the miracle of Hanukkah.
Centering around a group of boys attending a Hebrew school in Philadelphia, Alex Schlotsky, played by Alex D. Linz, tries to help his friends improve their basketball skills. He comes across a former college basketball star, Lamont Carr, played by Richard T. Jones, who reluctantly agrees to help Alex and his friends. The kids equate Lamont to their own Judah Maccabee, believing him to be the miracle they need to win a tournament.
5. “South Park: Mr. Hankey’s Christmas Classics”
Early on in the popular animated series’ run, a holiday album featuring the show’s Christmas mascot, Mr. Hankey, was released, in which characters from “South Park” sing various holiday songs, both existing and original.
An episode based around the album aired in 1999, an anthology of little music videos with Mr. Hankey hosting. The first segment of the episode is resident Jewish kid Kyle Broflovski singing “The Dreidel Song” in an effort to teach his adopted brother Ike how to play the traditional game.
Kyle’s friends, Cartman and Stan, arrive and sing their own solos about the dreidel. Kyle’s parents appear and also join in on the song. What ensues is an excellently catchy, memorable tune that includes a healthy bit of early “South Park” humor.