Category Archives: Chanukah

It’s hard to compete with Christmas, and for years Jewish people could only take bravado-tinged solace in the fact that their holiday was completely devoid of commercialism. Not anymore—now we have blue Chanukah lights adorning houses, public-square menorah lightings, and dreidel-shaped cookie cutters. There still isn’t much in the way of films to fill us with the Chanukah spirit, but here are a few offerings to share over latkes and doughnuts.

A Rugrats Chanukah (1996)

A Rugrats Chanukah
A Rugrats Chanukah (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Arguably the best American TV series about small children, Rugrats was also one of the subtlest and wisest about Jewish family life in the United States. In this special, the toddlers imagine themselves into Ancient Jerusalem. “A Maccababy’s gotta do what a Maccababy’s gotta do!” A richer meal, even, for parents than for tykes.

Hester Street (1975)

Joan Micklin Silver’s groundbreaking indie—a historical film about immigrant life in 1890s New York, made for next to nothing—recreates the Russian-Jewish ghetto world with a savvy ear for dialect and distinctly unsilvery black-and-white cinematography. Other than the Yiddish films of Molly Picon, Hester Street may be the next best thing to being there. With Carol Kane.

The Golem (1920)

The only German Expressionist staple—and the only horror-genre tale—of the Chanukah offerings, the Paul Wegener production (he’s the director and monolithic star), which has its origins in ancient Judaic myth, details the magical creation, in sixteenth-century Prague, of a giant clay man to defend the Jews from persecution. Other versions, including a French Le Golem released in 1936 and a British thriller called It! (1966), aren’t as memorable The Golem.