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The 11 Best & Worst Pop Culture Nods To Hanukkah

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    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.



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    "The Chanukah Song," Adam Sandler on Saturday Night Live (1994)

    Before there was Wikipedia to tell us which celebrities were Jewish, there was Adam Sandler's song, which he first sang on "Weekend Update." Many had never before considered the fact that Paul Newman, Captain Kirk, and the Three Stooges were at least part Jewish. When he released it as a single from his comedy album, What the Hell Happened to Me?, in 1995, it eventually reached #80 on the Billboard Hot 100. More relevant names were since added to parts 2 to 4, the latest of which he sang in November of this year and includes Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Elsa from Frozen, and David Beckham ("a quarter chosen").

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    "The One with the Holiday Armadillo," Friends (2000)

    When Ross has Ben home for the holidays (on episode 10 of season 7), he decides it's time to teach his son about Hanukkah. In the process, he pretty much illustrates why it's so hard for the holiday to gain any attraction if it has to compete with the likes of Santa and his flying reindeer. The armadillo certainly helps — a little.

    Watch Friends on Netflix.

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    Eight Crazy Nights (2002)

    Adam Sandler probably should have quit while he was ahead. This animated movie about a mean, alcoholic loser and the old geezer who tries to reform him was as hated by critics as his "Chanukah Song" was beloved years earlier. Scatological humor was the main complaint, but we're also bummed out by the lame use of that well-worn trope of the person who hates X holiday because it was the day his parents died years before.

    Watch Eight Crazy Nights on Netflix.