Our favorite celebrity Jewish dad, Andy Cohen, started Hanukkah early this year. On the Wednesday episode of his Bravo talk show “Watch What Happens Live,” he lit the Hanukkah candles with his guest, “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” original star Dorit Kemsley.
“Tomorrow at sundown begins the first night of Hanukkah,” he told viewers, and with Kemsley there, he couldn’t resist taking the opportunity to light the candles together in order “to bring peace, light and love to the world, all of which represents the meaning of Hanukkah, by the way.”
“I love that, I’m so happy,” Kemsley shared. Together they recited the blessings while Kemsley light a fabulous peacock blue menorah from Tchotchke Judaica. Kemsley, whose father is Israeli and whose mother is a Moroccan Jew, pronounced the Hebrew prayers with an Israeli flare, while Cohen sounds more like an American rabbi, later explaining the English meaning of the Hebrew words to anyone watching, and wishing them all a happy Hanukkah. I would definitely attend any service led by him.
A few days earlier, Cohen celebrated his own rabbi, Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, and his synagogue, Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, the largest LGBTQ+ congregation in the country, on the 50th anniversary of the NYC temple’s founding. Kleinbaum’s on-air post-Pittsburgh sermon on Cohen’s show feels just as relevant now, and her and her wife’s recent words on MSNBC about Israel, Palestine and antisemitism are definitely worth hearing.
Cohen has often incorporated his Jewishness into his work, with his show’s “Mazel of the Day” spot and by sharing so many Jewish rituals with his fans. He’s never hesitated to show off his Jewish pride or call out antisemitism. After the October 7 attack, Cohen shared that he stands with Israel; later that month, he shared a plea to release 16-year-old Sahar Kalderon, one of the Israeli hostages released during the short ceasefire.
After getting to practice on Wednesday night, on Thursday, the first night of Hanukkah, he lit the candles with young Lucy, 1, and Ben, 4, in his New York home. Last year he talked about how he’s passing down the tradition of eight nights of gifts that he grew up with to his kids. “We light the candles every night and he gets a little something.”
“Ben already thinks lighting candles is really special,” he shared, though he also admitted that getting that excitement going is “hard, because Santa Claus is really compelling.” You’re doing a great job, Andy.