There are probably thousands of different Christmas movies floating around out there. But when it comes to Hanukkah-themed entertainment, films are noticeably scarcer. Just as Adam Sandler once famously noted the lack of popular Hanukkah music with “The Hanukkah Song,” finding a proper Hanukkah movie to watch during the holidays can be a tall order.
Slowly but surely, however, this is starting to change, with even Lifetime and Hallmark embracing the Chanukah fun. Here are some of the best Hanukkah movies you can check out to help get into the holiday season.
7. All I Want Is Christmas
It can be tough to be a Jewish kid celebrating Hanukkah when you’re surrounded by Santa-worshipping classmates who have the glamour and excitement of Christmas to look forward to. All I Want Is Christmas (also known as Switchmas or Ira Finkelstein's Christmas) revolves around Ira Finkelstein (Elijah Nelson), a boy desperately trying to find a way out of being sent to Florida to visit his grandparents for Hanukkah.
He finds it when — in a move not unlike something we might see from Kevin in Home Alone – he secretly trades plane tickets with another boy, Mikey (Justin Howell), and ends up on his way to a festival town in Washington, appropriately named Christmastown. Over the course of All I Want Is Christmas, both Ira and Mikey get a chance to experience different holiday traditions, and decide for themselves if the grass is truly greener on the other side of the Hanukkah/Christmas fence.
6. Mistletoes & Menorahs
Although Seth Cohen on The OC seemed to resolve the holiday divide between Christmas and Hanukkah with his super-holiday, dubbed Chrismukkah, the cultural clash that exists in the month of December is still a ripe topic in the world of made-for-TV rom-coms. Mistletoes & Menorahs stars Kelley Jackle as Christy, a cog in the wheel of a major toy company who is tasked with learning about Hanukkah traditions to impress a potential client. As luck would have it, her coworker has a friend (Jake Epstein) who needs to learn about Christmas traditions just as much, and the two trade holiday knowledge. Inevitably, sparks fly.
Stream on Hulu
5. Full-Court Miracle
A Disney Channel Original Movie from 2003, Full-Court Miracle doesn’t just take place at Hanukkah — it recreates the original miracle of Hanukkah through a Jewish high school basketball team. Alex “Schlots” Schlotsky (Alex D. Linz) is frustrated by his team’s lack of success, and he recruits former college basketball star Lamont Carr (Richard T. Jones) to be their new coach. Although the team initially struggles to gel with his coaching technique and they have to fight to convince their school that Lamont should be their coach in the first place, together they make their way to the finals, where they need a Hanukkah miracle to finish the game.
Stream on Disney Plus
4. Eight Gifts of Hanukkah
Lifetime and Hallmark have been on the Christmas train for quite some time now, but Eight Gifts of Hanukkah represents the latter channel's first film that entirely revolves around the Jewish holiday, rather than being a mashup of Christmas and Hanukkah, as we’ve seen before. It stars Inbar Lavi as Sara Levin, a Jewish eye doctor who is taken by surprise when presents start arriving for her from a secret admirer — eight, in fact, one for each night of Hanukkah. Intrigued by the gesture, she embarks on some serious detective work to determine which of the men in her life is responsible for these gifts. Hint: It’s exactly who she least suspected.
Stream on Peacock
3. Eight Crazy Nights
Consider Adam Sandler as Hanukkah’s greatest celebrity ambassador. He co-wrote and starred in the raunchy animated comedy Eight Crazy Nights back in 2002, partially in an attempt to give Jewish audiences a Hanukkah film. He plays a handful of different characters in the film, including its rough-around-the-edges protagonist Davey, who befriends Whitey (also voiced by Sandler) when he is court-ordered to volunteer as a referee in a youth basketball league. Hidden deep within the film’s crude sense of humor is its real heart, which is likely why it has grown to have a cult following years after its initial release.
2. The Night Before
Although Christmas gets its fair share of screentime in The Night Before, there’s plenty of Hanukkah representation in this holiday-themed buddy comedy. Seth Rogen stars alongside Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Anthony Mackie, who play a trio of childhood friends who have a tradition of spending every Christmas Eve together.
Although their adult responsibilities threaten their ability to continue carrying out this ritual, they reunite for wacky misadventures one last time as they attempt to hunt down the elusive Nutcracker Ball, an event they’ve been trying to attend on Christmas Eve for years. The Night Before may revolve around Christmas, but it’s extremely Hanukkah-coded: Director Jonathan Levine based the idea around his group of Jewish friends, who would meet up every year for shenanigans while everyone else around them was celebrating Christmas.
Stream on Tubi
1. Hanukkah on Rye
A holiday film that is very reminiscent of Jewish classic Crossing Delancey, Hanukkah on Rye feels like one of the first holiday romcoms that embraces Jewish culture rather than just transposing the Christmas film template onto Hanukkah. It stars Yael Grobglas and Jeremy Jordan as Molly and Jacob, who are set up by a matchmaker and hit it off immediately — only to learn that they’re a modern day case of Romeo and Juliet, as their families own rival New York City delis. If they want to keep their relationship alive, they’ll have to find a way to overcome the pastrami-shaped obstacles in their path.
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Audrey Fox is a features editor and film/television critic at Looper, with bylines at RogerEbert.com, The Nerdist, /Film, and IGN, amongst others. She has been blessed by our tomato overlords with their coveted seal of approval. Audrey received her BA in film from Clark University and her MA in International Relations from Harvard University. When she’s not watching movies, she loves historical non-fiction, theater, traveling, and playing the violin (poorly).