Day 6

Hallmark has added Hanukkah movies to its holiday lineup, but this Jewish writer says they miss the mark

Robin Zlotnick grew up celebrating Hanukkah and says the Hallmark Channel’s new Hanukkah movies feel more like Christmas films with Hanukkah elements.

‘They involve so much Christmas,’ says Robin Zlotnick, who grew up celebrating Hanukkah

In this image from one of Hallmark Channel's new holiday movies, Double Holiday, one of the main characters, Rebecca, lights a menorah as her work colleague, Chris, stands beside her. Some people are criticizing the network's new so-called Hanukkah films, saying they include stereotypes about Jewish people and are more about Christmas than the festival of lights. (Crown Media/Hallmark Channel)

If you're into cheesy, predictable holiday movies, then you might be familiar with Hallmark Channel's addictive onslaught of Christmas films.

But when it comes to the diversity of its holiday offerings, the television network is facing criticism for missing the mark.

"I didn't expect there to be Hanukkah movies, so when they promised them I sort of thought that they would actually be Hanukkah movies," said Robin Zlotnick, a Los Angeles-based writer who grew up celebrating the Jewish festival of lights.

This year, Hallmark Channel introduced two new movies to its holiday lineup which it described as Hanukkah films. 

Holiday Date centres on a woman who hires an actor to play her boyfriend over Christmas, but worries about keeping up their secret when she learns he's Jewish.

The second film, Double Holiday, tells the story of a career-focused woman whose Hanukkah plans are derailed when she is forced to help plan her office Christmas party.

Earlier this week, Hallmark also bowed to public pressure when it reversed its decision to pull ads featuring same-sex couples.

Watch the trailer for Hallmark Channel's new film, Holiday Date.

Zlotnick says the films felt more like Christmas movies with Hanukkah elements than movies specifically dedicated to Hanukkah.

Hanukkah portrayed as 'strange or different'

"First of all, they don't have Hanukkah in the title and they involve so much Christmas," she told Day 6 host Brent Bambury. 

Second of all, it really does seem like the Jewish characters in both movies are portrayed as in opposition to the norm. Hanukkah is highlighted in these movies as strange or different elements in the plot, so to me that means that these aren't really Hanukkah movies."

Zlotnick said Holiday Date also relies on stereotypes that Jews are suspicious or can't be trusted, which could easily have been avoided.

"If I were in charge … you could take almost any one of the Christmas movies that they already have and pretty much keep the plot, but make the characters Jewish and have them decorate with blue and white instead of green and red, have them gather around a menorah instead of a Christmas tree, and everything would be great," Zlotnick said. 

"Even if you aren't Jewish you would understand that movie."


Click 'listen' near the top of this page to hear the full conversation.

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