The winter holiday season is upon us again. And while Hanukkah may be a minor holiday in the Jewish calendar, it’s certainly growing in significance in the film production slate. Unfortunately, so many Hanukkah movies are about Christmas (seriously, you can read about that here). So, to help you find the gems among them, we’ve compiled a list of four Hanukkah movies that put the Festival of Lights front and center.
The Hebrew Hammer
The Hebrew Hammer is 20 years old this year, but it holds up. Auteured by Jonathan Kesselman, starring Adam Goldberg, Judy Greer and Andy Dick, this classic is a send-up of blaxploitation movies with an Orthodox Jewish spin.
In The Hebrew Hammer, Mordechai (Goldberg) has to save Hanukkah from Santa Claus’s evil son (Dick). What does that mean? Who knows. But it’s a fun, irreverent ride. Add this to your Hanukkah movie rotation if you’ve never seen it or it’s been a while.
(And yes, this movie isn’t Christmas-free. But it’s definitely Hanukkah-forward.)
Streaming: Peacock, Tubi, Freevee
Rated: R (content warnings)
Menorah in the Middle
Hulu released Menorah in the Middle in 2022. If you’re a fan of Hallmark and Lifetime movies, this Jordan Kessler/Kevin Weisberg film is for you. When newly-engaged Sarah (Lucy DeVito) returns home for Hanukkah, she learns that her family’s bakery is in trouble. Adam Busch, Jonah Platt and Sarah Silverman round out the cast.
Watch Menorah in the Middle if you like schmaltzy movies about family togetherness and childhood romance.
Rated: TV-14 (content warnings)
Hanukkah on Rye
Another 2022 outing, Hanukkah on Rye, stars Yael Grobglas and Jeremy Jordan as two competing deli owners who get match-made together. Directed by Peter DeLuise and written by Julie Sherman Wolfe, this Hallmark Channel movie follows the classic formula of a holiday movie but with very Jewish components.
Watch Hanukkah on Rye if you’re already a fan of these actors or Hallmark movies.
Streaming: Available for purchase on multiple platforms; check local listings for airings this season
Rated: TV-G (content warnings)
An American Tail
Okay, okay, saying Hanukkah is the main story in An American Tail is a stretch, considering the Hanukkah scene is only in the opening. Still, we think it’s a great film to show your kids over the holiday. Also, the film’s tagline is “This Holiday Season, Steven Spielberg and Don Bluth bring you a magical experience. A musical journey. And a story that will live in your heart forever.”
This 1986 classic, directed by Bluth and written by David Kirschner, Judy Freudberg and Tony Geiss, puts a Jewish family front and center. That’s pretty powerful. We recommend An American Tail any time of year, but its message of hope and family is especially important during holidays.
Rated: G (content warnings)
So, there you have it: four Hanukkah-themed movies to enjoy this Festival of Lights. Are we missing your favorite? Sound off in the comments below. Have a happy Hanukkah and holiday season!