Christmas movies are everywhere right now, but Prime Video’s latest for the genre, Something From Tiffany’s, has something I’ve never seen before: When Ethan (Kendrick Sampson) wishes Rachel (Zoey Deutch) a “Merry Christmas,” she responds: “I’m Jewish, by the way!” Without skipping a beat, Ethan immediately wishes her a Happy Hanukkah. Rachel smiles and eventually walks away, but not before shouting out a cheerful goodbye.
It’s a line that I’ve said (and thought about saying more) during every holiday season when someone inevitably wishes me, a Jew, Merry Christmas. I have nothing against Christmas—I love the holiday, the music, the movies, and the decorations. I just don’t celebrate it. I celebrate Hanukkah. And over the last few years, when anti-Semitism in the United States is at an all-time high, it means more than ever when someone doesn’t assume I celebrate Christmas, or—if they know I’m Jewish—actually says, “Happy Hanukkah.”
But let’s get back to the movie. Although Rachel is Jewish (as well as the actor that plays her, Zoey Deutch), the line, “I’m Jewish, by the way!,” is basically the extent of her Jewish identity in the film. Sure, she wears a Zabar’s T-shirt in one scene (the famous specialty market in New York with Jewish roots and known for its signature Jewish food) and an “Oy to the World” ugly Hanukkah sweater in another, but that’s it. (Well, other than Rachel’s boyfriend, Gary, saying, “We have Chrismukkah presents to open!”)
Although I would have preferred a menorah with greater prominence at Rachel and Gary’s place (I think I might have spotted a very modern one), that’s me being picky. Because while plenty of TV series (Friends, The O.C., Bob’s Burgers, The Goldbergs, The Nanny, Call Me Kat, Brothers & Sisters, Chicago Hope, etc.) have had Hanukkah episodes or scenes, it’s a very different reality for movies, especially those that air on TV.
In 2019, Hallmark aired two Hanukkah movies, but none that had Hanukkah in the title. (One of Hallmark’s first Hanukkah movies, Hitched for the Holidays, in 2012, also didn’t reference the holiday.) That same year, Lifetime released Mistletoe & Menorahs, the first time I recall a Hanukkah reference in a movie title. (Hallmark finally followed suit with Love, Lights, Hanukkah in 2020.) Since then, we’ve had Hallmark’s Eight Gifts of Hanukkah in 2021.