It’s been a great year for Hanukkah on kids’ TV: Latkes were fried in a new episode of “Blue’s Clues & You,” the story of Hanukkah was dramatically and movingly retold in “The Ghost and Molly McGee,” and mitzvahs were explained by none other than Jenny Slate on the “Muppet Babies.” Truly, Hanukkah representation this year has been nothing short of miraculous.
Yet, my favorite Hanukkah TV moment from this season is, hands down, Elmo in a kippah. Why? Because a muppet in a kippah is just a very good thing. And I do love Elmo (despite the sometimes grating nature of his voice). Elmo actually has long been part of Hanukkah storytelling lore (“Elmo’s Little Dreidel” and “Grover’s Eight Nights of Lights” are a staple in many Jewish homes). And now, the team of Sesame Street has brought us a really delightful new Hanukkah bop — and, again, Elmo in a kippah.
In the Hanukkah video, which was released this past Sunday, Elmo, Rosita, Gabrielle and Wes (Wesley Walker, the new Black muppet who joined the crew back in March to help families talk about race) are joined by young Charlie, who explains the Jewish festival of lights to them. Charlie has given Wes and Elmo “special hats,” aka kippahs, and she explains that “people wear kippahs on the holidays, in the synagogue and some wear kippahs all year round.”
“Hanukkah is a holiday that celebrates joy and pride,” Charlie responds when the muppets ask her what Hanukkah is. And while the events Hanukkah commemorates aren’t exactly joyful, Hanukkah celebrations are usually full of joy and fun, so I’ll accept that definition. And Hanukkah definitely celebrates Jewish pride.
She then explains what a menorah and a shamash are, and counts the candles from right to left — the same way we light the menorah. Then Charlie introduces a catchy new Hanukkah song, performed by a singing dreidel in a beautifully animated video.
The video features dancing latkes, gelt and donuts (also known as sufganiyot in Hebrew) — there’s even a crew of fiddler sufganiyot, performing a little klezmer-y riff — I’m just waiting for them to star in a production of “Fiddler on the Roof (of Your Mouth).” (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)
“It’s Hanukkah eight days and eight nights / It’s Hanukkah, Hanukkah, the festival of lights,” goes the chorus. It’s truly a delight!
In the end of the video, Charlie and muppets partake in some sweet treats from her bubbe: sufganiyot and babka. And while the latter isn’t exactly a Hanukkah treat, babka is delicious, and honestly, why not serve it to your guests on Hanukkah?!
Before leaving for an exciting game of dreidel, Elmo and the Sesame Street team wish us a “happy Hanukkah!” And honestly, who wouldn’t be happy after watching this adorable Hanukkah video (did I mention ELMO IS WEARING A KIPPAH?).