The 11 Best & Worst Pop Culture Nods To Hanukkah

Photo: Courtesy of Bright/Kauffman/Crane Productions.
We'll be honest upfront: This isn't really a "best and worst" list. It's more like the "only" pop culture nods to Hanukkah out there (okay, we left out An American Tail, just because we could). 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? If you ask serious Jews, they'll say it's because the holiday isn't all that important to them. It's more of a thing that got elevated in modern times to make kids feel less left out by all the Yuletide hubbub. We'd also venture to guess that it's not really worth the effort to make something Hanukkah-specific when you could instead release non-holiday movies, music, and specials with mass appeal and keep those movie theaters open on Christmas Day so believers and nonbelievers alike can go see Star Wars.

Whatever the reason for the dearth of Hanukkah content, let's take this moment to enjoy what few gems and flops we have. Beyond Adam Sandler's two contributions, there are a couple of great songs by Matisyahu and The LeeVees. TV characters, from the Rugrats to Ross, have tried to explain the meaning of those eight little candles to children and goys alike. And we've got celebrations by some famous real and fictional half-Jews — including The O.C.'s Seth Cohen and The Vampire Diaries' Kat Graham — to keep us in the mixed-holiday spirit. Spread the joy over the next eight days or watch 'em all at once. We're pretty sure it won't give Hanukkah Harry a coronary.