Hanukkah "Must-Reads" and "Must-Watches"
Sometimes during this cold time of year, there is nothing better than curling up on a couch to read something interesting or watch something worthwhile. If you're looking to enhance your Hanukkah with some good books, films, or TV shows, this page offers you what you need to have an enjoyable holiday!
For a night-by-night resource infusing the holiday with a commitment to social justice, click here (document written by Solomon Hoffman of Bend the Arc's New York chapter). This resource is a terrific one to read with family or friends.
Hanukkah on TV:
A Rugrats Hanukkah (TV Special):
Tommy Pickles leads the babies into an adventure to save Grandpa Boris from the "Meany of Chanukah" - Grandpa's childhood rival, Schlomo. While the Rugrats learn about Hanukkah from the Seniors' play entitled "The Meaning of Chanukah," Angelica is determined to find a TV to watch the "Cynthia Christmas Special." This episode is available to view on Youtube by clicking the video below, for $1.99. It is also available for the same price on Amazon Video or iTunes.
Hanukkah with Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart (Short Videos):
Through a musical song entitled "Can I Interest You in Hanukkah?" Jon Stewart makes his case for why Stephen Colbert should give Hanukkah a try.
Stephen Colbert has continued his commitment to Hanukkah on The Late Show, which he hosts on CBS. Check out his eight-episode series from 2015, in which he welcomes a guest each night to provide a fresh take on this Jewish winter festival. Links to videos for every night can be accessed directly below! (This lineup of videos is also part of our "Hanukkah Guests (Ushpizin)" track which you can access here.
The YidLife Crisis Guide to the Holiday Classics (Short Video):
Merry Crisismukkah! It's the latest holiday release from your favorite nudniks. While you're at work shredding those potatoes, yingling bells, or chugging gogl-mogl or eggnog, this platter of oy-ful melodies will make your season even brighter.
Hanukkah in Film:
Inspired by the life of Lamont Carr, Full-Court Miracle is a cross-cultural story of a former college basketball star who is convinced by a group of Jewish school boys to coach their win-less basketball team. They hope that Carr will turn out to be a modern-day Judah Maccabee who helps their overcome the odds and become winners. The full movie is available for $3.99 on Amazon, or $5.99 on iTunes or Youtube (available by clicking the video below).
The Hebrew Hammer (not suitable for children):
Part man, part street, 100% kosher. When the evil son of Santa Claus goes on a mission to eradicate Hanukkah, Jewish detective Mordechai Carver (Adam Goldberg) teams up with the Kwanzaa Liberation Front to put a stop to the naughty Saint Nick and save his holiday for future generations. Judy Greer and Andy Dick also star. Available for free through Amazon Prime or $3.99 through Amazon Video (accessible by clicking the image below).
Hanukkah in Books:
The Books of the Maccabees:
Start from the very beginning by reading the Books of the Maccabees themselves! Often overlooked, because they were not included in the Hebrew Bible (Tanach), these books are action-packed and help introduce the original story of Hanukkah to those who might not be familiar with it.
Hanukkah in America, By Dianne Ashton
In New Orleans, Hanukkah means decorating your door with a menorah made of hominy grits. Latkes in Texas are seasoned with cilantro and cayenne pepper. Children in Cincinnati sing Hanukkah songs and eat oranges and ice cream. While each tradition springs from its own unique set of cultural references, what ties them together is that they all celebrate a holiday that is different in America than it is any place else. For the past 200 years, American Jews have been transforming the ancient holiday of Hanukkah from a simple occasion into something grand. Each year, as they retell its story, they bring their ever-changing perspectives to its celebration. Providing an alternative to the Christian dominated December, rabbis and lay people alike have addressed contemporary hopes by fashioning a Jewish festival that blossomed in their American world.
Aphrodite and the Rabbis, By Burton Visotzky
Historians have long debated the (re)birth of Judaism in the wake of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple cult by the Romans in 70 CE. The Greco-Roman culture in which rabbinic Judaism grew in the first five centuries of the Common Era nurtured the development of Judaism as we still know and celebrate it today. Arguing that its transformation from a Jerusalem-centered cult to a world religion was made possible by the Roman Empire, Rabbi Burton Visotzky presents Judaism as a distinctly Roman religion. Full of fascinating detail from the daily life and culture of Jewish communities across the Hellenistic world, Aphrodite and the Rabbis will appeal to anyone interested in the development of Judaism, religion, history, art and architecture.
From the Maccabees to the Mishnah, By Shaye Cohen
Cohen offers students more than just history, but an understanding of the social and cultural context of Judaism as it developed into the formative period of rabbinic Judaism. This new edition includes a brand-new chapter on the parting of ways between Jews and Christians in the second century CE. From the Maccabees to the Mishnah remains the clearest introduction to the era that shaped Judaism and provided the context for early Christianity.