Living in New York, I kind of take for granted that everyone knows what Hanukkah is, and we don’t need help explaining it to our kids. But last night on Twitter, I came across a thread started by a curious mom asking for documentaries or other resources to help explain Hanukkah to her own child. It lead me to search for some good documentaries, and I’m excited to discover Hanukkah: A Festival of deLights.
This hour-long PBS documentary from filmmaker David Anton gives an engaging overview of Hanukkah, describing its evolution from a tiny Jewish ritual to a holiday force in American culture — and it turns out the Christmas fomo is only part of the reason.
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While interviews include experts describing the history and meaning, what kids may enjoy most are watching Anton’s niece and nephew go through the learning journey right along with them. What you may enjoy most are the endearing personal Hanukkah memories from celebrities like William Shatner and Lanie Kazan.
(Of course if you’ve ever listened to Adam Sandler’s Chanukah Song, you know you can spin a dreidel with Captain Kirk, right?)
For a really nice overview of the film, check out Jennifer Robinson’s article for San Diego’s KPBS.
From the film by David Anton
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Especially at a time that anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic violence are reaching frightening record highs, this is a good time to sit down with the kids — whether you’re Jewish or not — and better understand the peace, joy, and tradition of “the other” winter holiday. Including why we start seeing two lit candles shining through street-facing windows at sundown tonight.
Or as Anton describes it to The Forward, candles that are lit in menorahs for the world to see in an act of courage, which perfectly represent “the idea of coming through the darkness”
You can watch Hanukkah: A Festival of deLights on demand through PBS’s streaming app, or on Apple TV, Roku, or Amazon Fire, or check PBS.org or your local PBS station listings for air times so you can watch or DVR for later.
Top photo: Gaelle Marcel via Unsplash;