The Shmooze

Yamaclaus: A Chrismukkah Dream Come True

By Anne Cohen

Seth Cohen’s dream finally came true.

This year, celebrate Christmas the kosher way (sort of), with a Yamaclaus. It’s exactly what it sounds like: a red yarmulke complete with fluffy white Santa trim. And if you’re a millennial, chances are you’ve seen it before.

Fans of “The O.C.” will recognize this holiday gem from the show’s second season Chrismukkah episode, “The Chrismukkah That Almost Wasn’t.” In fact, that’s exactly where Yamaclaus creators Alan Masarsky and Larik Malash, both Russian American Jews, got the idea.

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8 Videos for 8 Crazy Nights

By Anne Cohen

Plain old Hanukkah has been somewhat overshadowed this year by the monster that is Thanksgivukkah — for those of you living under a rock, Thanksgiving and the first day of Hannukah fall on the same day.

But amid the tsunami of cranberry-infused sufganiyot and Manischewitz-brined turkey recipes, the hybrid holiday has inspired some pretty great holiday videos.

From dreidel competitions to anti-holiday rants (with the obligatory Maccabeats shout-out thrown in for good measure), here are eight videos to share with friends and family after lighting the menorah.

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Bar Refaeli As Cinderella?

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Getty Images

Is there anything Bar Refaeli can’t do? She models, she designs underwear, she coaches model wannabes on TV, she acts in films…and now she might also star in a musical.

Abbanibi reports that the ubiquitous supermodel is rumored to be considering the title role in a musical version of “Cinderella” to be performed in Israel this coming Hanukkah. It is traditional for Israeli production companies to put on large-scale musical plays and extravaganzas for children during the weeklong winter holiday. Big name media personalities often vie for the opportunity to perform, and to land big contracts for the work. According to the Algemeiner, the granddaddy of these productions is Festigal, begun in 1981, which brings in tens of million of shekels in revenue per season.

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Jill Zarin Uses Hanukkah Candles in Blackout

By Renee Ghert-Zand

getty images
Jill Zarin

Former Real Housewives of New York City star Jill Zarin may have skipped Hebrew school the day they taught that the light of the Hanukkah candles may not be used for anything other than publicizing and enjoying the holiday’s miracle. How does the Shmooze know this? Well, we can’t be totally sure, but the fact that Zarin used her Hanukkiah for light during a blackout is a pretty good clue.

The New York Post reported in a news brief titled, “Let There Be Jill,” that Zarin, a resident of the Upper East Side, pulled out her Hanukkah candelabra when the lights went out for several hours due to a power outage as the Marriot Aruba Surf Club on Christmas Day. She told the Post that she lit the candles in her grandchildren’s bedroom at the hotel because they were afraid of the dark.

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On Christmas Trees and the ‘Menorahment’ Craze

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Courtesy of Yourtreedition.com

Star of David tree-toppers aren’t necessarily meant for Hanukkah bushes. In fact, they are reportedly favored by both evangelical Christians and intermarried couples looking for just the right thing to place high atop their Christmas trees.

Leave it to Jews to be the ones to come up with the idea of Christmas “menorahments.” The Jerusalem Post reports that Jewish couple Morri and Marina Chowaiki have sold thousands of their Hanukkah Tree Toppers since first putting their patented six-pointed silver stars on Amazon.com in 2009.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Star of David, Raphael Varnassal, Morri Chowaiki, Menorahments, Marina Chowaiki, Hanukkah, Christmas Trees, Christmas

Hanukkah Rap Battle

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Getty Images
Too Short (left) and Jim Jones

The Shmooze is pretty certain that these off-the-cuff Hanukkah raps by Too Short and Jim Jones are not going to become part of the Hanukkah song canon. Somehow, it seems unlikely that these ditties commissioned by TMZ for an “It’s Dreidel Time, Bitch!” rap battle will have as much longevity has “I Have a Little Dreidel” and “S’vivon Sov Sov Sov.”

But you’ve got to give these guys points for trying.

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‘Christmas’ Menorahs Popular in Ireland

By Nathan Burstein

iStockphoto

A surprising fact about the Irish: they love menorahs, apparently.

So says IrishCentral, which reports that “you can count them by the hundred” each December between Dublin and Galway. It’s unlikely the candelabras belong to actual Jews — just 2,000 of the country’s 4.4 million citizens are Jewish, the piece says.

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Yarmulke Kerfuffle Leaves Fla. Panthers' Fans Outraged

By Josh Tapper

The latest egregious disappointment to hit the lowly Florida Panthers’ franchise has nothing to do with hockey. Panthers’ fans are (it baffles me to say) distraught and disappointed over a miscommunication surrounding a Tuesday night yarmulke giveaway, during what was billed as “the biggest Hanukkah party in South Florida.”

The original press release stated all ticket buyers for Tuesday’s game (against the Colorado Avalanche, which also celebrated the 1996 Stanly Cup championship between these two teams, but hockey, who’s talking about hockey?) would receive a black yarmulke with the Panthers’ logo stitched on top. At some point, however, the language was changed to make the prize available only to those who bought “discounted, single-game tickets for the Jewish Heritage Night,” Yahoo! Sports reported. Vanity kippot were ordered based on the number of people who bought a Jewish Heritage Night ticket, meaning season ticket holders were stiffed.

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30 Years Later, Jews Celebrate John Lennon on Hanukkah

By Alex Suskind

“You came to me one summer night and from your beam you made my dream,” sang the Beatles on their 1964 cover of “Mr. Moonlight.” Yes, the entire song was penned as a love letter. But that doesn’t mean those particular words can’t be applied during Hanukkah, when we celebrate and remember the miracle that occurred at the Holy Temple thousands of years ago.

Coincidentally, this year’s Festival of Lights occurs during the commemoration of an event involving the lead singer of that “Mr. Moonlight” cover, the one and only John Lennon. Thirty years ago tomorrow, the rock legend was gunned down outside of his apartment in New York City.

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And the Most Jewish City in America Is...

By Katherine Clarke

As Hanukkah celebrations got underway last week, The Daily Beast ranked the 30 most Jewish cities in America. Their results were determined by three per capita factors: Jewish population, number of synagogues and kosher restaurants.

As expected, New York claimed the top spot. With a Jewish population of 9.6%, four synagogues per capita and an almighty 504 kosher restaurants, it remains headquarters of most American and international Jewish institutions and, of course, home of the best Jewish delis.

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It's a Giant Menorah Shrine!

By Jason Perlow

Sid Horowitz, a retired dentist living in Bridgewater, N.J., has been collecting menorahs for the past 40 years as gifts and has been inviting guests to participate in menorah lighting festivities for over 10 of them. Check out this photo of the massive menorah lighting at his home last night.

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Happy Hanukkah — Don’t Burn Your House Down

By Michael Kaminer

Latkes sizzling, dreidels spinning, menorahs burning… They may love the first two Hanukkah traditions, but Israeli firefighters have come to dread the Festival of Lights for the menorah-related surge of house fires it brings, the Associated Press reports. Many Jews light the holiday candles “too close to the drapes,” firefighters say; Jerusalem fire department spokesman Asaf Avres told the AP the menorahs children make in kindergarten often topple over, posing another fire threat. Hanukkah typically sees a jump of 10 to 15 percent in house fires, Avres said. The report comes as northern Israel battles a raging forest fire that has already killed 40 people.

Rather than host a public menorah-lighting, the fire department marked the start of the holiday by releasing safety guidelines, including common-sense tips like keeping fire extinguishers or buckets of water close at hand. Stateside, the Orthodox Union offered up its own advice on “Chanukah Burn and Scald Prevention.”

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Schwarzenegger Dances the 'Hora'

By Laura Sinberg

We can’t decide if this is the most awkward or hilarious thing we’ve ever seen, but check out the video below of California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger dancing the “Hora” yesterday with a group of Hasidic rabbis in Sacramento.

Apparently, the gov was so excited that he tweeted: “Dancing the Hora today at the Menorah Lighting. It was my 7th Menorah Lighting, and I always love it.”

Glad you enjoyed, Arnold.

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Wishing You an Automated Hanukkah

By Nathan Jeffay

The Robotics Laboratory at Ben Gurion University of the Negev has dreamed up eight Hanukkah robots. They include the Lat-K, which harnesses solar energy to cook latkes; Menoroctopod, an eight-armed robot, and Mecha-B which defends the People of Israel. See all eight robots in this fun video.

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Holiday News From Israel

By Nathan Jeffay

The Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha is upon us, and just like everything in the Western World, it has been commercialized. Check out this video about the Israeli electronics store that tried to boost its Arab clientele by offering a free sheep with every purchase. A central Eid tradition is to slaughter an animal.

In Gaza, which is under blockade from Israel, animals for slaughter are nevertheless in plentiful supply. They are arriving through smuggling tunnels.

In other holiday related news, if you’re sending a Hanukkah gift to friends of family in Israel, make it a good one, as you may decide it’s the last. The Israel Postal Company is going to start charging people $10 to receive a package from abroad, supposedly to cover the trouble of clearing packages through customs, even if there is no duty to pay. So after the charge comes in on January 1, gifts sent to Israel may be slightly less welcome.

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Jewish Children’s Book Hits Germany

By Dana Shay Ipri

Jewish children gather round: “A Horse for Hanukkah” hits bookstores today. Reuters reports that Myriam Halberstam, who is a filmmaker, author and German-American Jew, is releasing a light-hearted children’s book about one horse’s mission to destroy a family’s Hanukkah celebration. The book will be published in English and German by Ariella Books, the first Jewish publisher of children’s books in Germany, which Halberstam founded in May.

“At Christmas there are all these books you can buy for your children, but if you’re Jewish and you want to read them something about Jewish holidays, you can’t,” she told Reuters. “I needed to create something for my own daughters.”

With 32 pages and colorful illustrations by award-winning illustrator Nancy Cote, Halberstam hopes the book will intrigue Jews and non-Jews alike.

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