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5 Hanukkah Moments in American Pop Culture
MICAH MERTES MICAH MERTES Lincoln Journal Star
Lincoln Journal-Star

Say "Christmas movie" in a crowded room, and you're bound to evoke memories of a manic Jimmy Stewart sprinting through the snow or Ralphie sporting a pink bunny outfit or Clark Griswold chasing a squirrel with a hammer.

Same with "Christmas music." Immediately, Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole and Harry Connick Jr. (but perhaps not in that order) start to spin in your mind's ear.

If Christmas entertainment were oats, there'd be enough to choke all the horses in the world.

But what about Hanukkah movies or music? What is there?

The Jewish Festival of Lights, which this year begins Sunday evening, is an acutely under-repped holiday in pop culture. There are, however, a few precious Hanukkah entertainments out there. But it takes some searching.

1."The Chanukah Song"Parts I,II & III

Christmas has its Crosby. Hanukkah has its Sandler.

The SNL alum wanted to appease all the nice, alienated Jewish children out there by crooning a laundry list of Jewish celebrities. Throughout the trilogy, Sandler references everyone from James Caan to Ralph Lauren to Harrison Ford ("a quarter Jewish").

2."Eight Crazy Nights"

Sandler again, this time with a goofy animated musical spanked with bad box office returns and even worse reviews. Never mind, though. Sandler, who wrote, produced and acted in the flick, made movie history with "Nights." It was the first (and still the only) mainstream movie to center on the eight nights of the holiday.

Sandler plays one of his jerk characters, who, through doing public service as a youth basketball league ref, learns the value of being kind.

3."South Park's" Mr. Hankey the Christmas poo episode

In their typical mix of gross gags and meaningful social commentary, Trey Parker and Matt Stone helmed this memorable episode in which the Jewish Kyle Broflovski feels alienated from the rest of South Park's Christmas festivities. Fortunately, benevolent Mr. Hankey helps him, and the town comes together.

4. "Barenaked for the Holidays"(2004)

The quick-lipped Canadian wordsmiths Barenaked Ladies proved that Christmas and Hanukkah songs can coexist with their holiday-themed disc. Tracks include "I Have a Little Dreidel" and "Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah."

5."A Rugrats Hanukkah "

It shows how neglected this holiday is in popular entertainment when a Nickelodeon cartoon about mischievous babies makes the list.

But for kid-friendly entertainment about the holiday, this is as good as it gets.

Reach Micah Mertes at 473-7395 or mmertes@journalstar.com.

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