With so many Jews prominent in the entertainment world, Jewish themes, characters, and holidays are bound to come up in TV shows. As a fellow Jew, it is joyous to see my religious background expressed on television. By foregoing the typical Christmas episode, more and more people are able to learn about Hanukkah, Passover, and other Jewish traditions.
From bar mitzvahs to Jewish slang to Hanukkah, here are some TV shows that explicitly discuss the Jewish culture.
The O.C. is about a troubled teenager named Ryan Atwood. Atwood is adopted by the wealthy Cohen family and him and Seth take on the high school troubles of high-class Newport Beach. Since the Cohen family is Jewish, Passover and Hanukkah are celebrated on the show yearly. When Ryan moves in, Seth creates the holiday “Chrismukkah” so the family is able to celebrate and coexist. Seth even created the Santa hat yarmulke. Check it out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T9C-H_UvbUg
New Girl, a comedic sitcom, follows the lives of five friends living in an apartment in Los Angeles. One of the main characters, Schmidt, outwardly expresses his Jewish identity in almost every episode. When he gets married, the wedding displays the Jewish tradition of breaking a glass and dancing the hora. Additionally, Schmidt recites the “Shema” in one episode after he saves a man’s life for the first time. Click here to see the kippahs, rabbi, and the breaking of the glass: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5iX5j4W1ws
Friends is a sitcom about six young adults living in Manhattan. Two out of the six friends – Ross and Monica are Jewish. In a holiday episode, Ross dresses up as a “Holiday Armadillo” to tell his son the story of Hanukkah. Check it out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VH-6u-3qglY
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
This Amazon Prime Video television show takes places in 1958 New York City. The show follows a young Jewish housewife who begins to pursue a career in stand-up comedy after she finds out her husband is cheating on her. Surrounded by the Jews of the Upper West Side, this show includes many Jewish jokes and references. Check out this wedding scene filled kippot and taleisim: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6XJeFEZT3U
The Goldbergs is a comedic sitcom about a Jewish family. The TV show takes place in Pennsylvania in the 1980s and explores the daily lives of the family. In one of the holiday episodes, the mother plans to get her family in the holiday spirit by inventing “Super Hanukkah.” Check out what Super Hanukkah is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cbTLoOE5p5w
As a people who have been misrepresented time and again throughout history, we should stand proud to see our religion infused into today’s pop culture with integrity. Not only does this show our triumph over all the people who tried to eliminate us in the past with their derogatory language and seething stereotypes, it also serves as a way to educate the people around us about the essence of the Jewish character – a character bursting with vibrance, kippot, and lots and lots of food.