Rugrats: A Rugrats Chanukah
December 3, 2018 7:44 PM - Season 4, Episode 1 - Subscribe

The tots learn the story of Hanukkah while visiting a synagogue with Boris, who settles a long-standing feud.

"You gotta CH when you say it."
posted by the man of twists and turns (3 comments total)
 
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Remembering ‘The Rugrats’ Hanukkah episode -
How significant was the Hanukkah episode in American television at the time?

Actually, the most important religious episode on the series was dedicated to Passover. In short, the creators, many of whom were Jewish or had strong ties to Judaism, were asked by Nickelodeon to make episodes based on Jewish themes, as there had been small clues here and there that the Pickles family was Jewish. But the creators weren’t ready to have a Hanukkah episode because they felt it was more complicated to showcase as a holiday that was already pretty mainstream in media, as well as a holiday that gets a lot of attention, but actually isn’t the most important holiday to the Jewish people.

Instead, they decided to tackle Passover, an important festival in the Jewish calendar which received less attention. The implications of this are significant. If you were, say, a kid in rural Alabama who watched the show at a young age and had [“Rugrats”] dolls and toys, and had seen the movies but you had never encountered a Jew before, seeing these episodes with Jewish holiday themes allowed you to learn the stories of Passover and Hanukkah for the first time.
'A Rugrats Chanukah' Retrospective
Maybe that’s why “A Rugrats Chanukah” — which turns 21 this year — has achieved a cult-like status among fans of the classic Nickelodeon show. Some watch it every year the way they do with the Passover episode. In fact, the Chabad house at my alma mater, Drexel University in Philadelphia, screens it annually as part of its eight-day programming schedule for the holiday. Along with “Hey Arnold,” “Rugrats” was one of those rare ’90s Nicktoons that explored Judaism, even if it was for an episode or two.
FACT-CHECKING THE RUGRATS HANUKKAH SPECIAL
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:55 AM on December 4


The implications of this are significant. If you were, say, a kid in rural Alabama who watched the show at a young age and had [“Rugrats”] dolls and toys, and had seen the movies but you had never encountered a Jew before, seeing these episodes with Jewish holiday themes allowed you to learn the stories of Passover and Hanukkah for the first time.

This is 100% true and I'm one of those kids. Grew up in rural South Dakota, these episodes of Rugrats represented more or less all of what I understood about Judaism until I moved away, along with the also mentioned Harold stuff in Hey Arnold. Cartoons are no replacement for living in a diverse area or actual education, but it was better than nothing.
posted by neonrev at 12:58 AM on December 5 [3 favorites]


neonrev, that is almost exactly me too, just from a relatively more population-dense part of South Dakota!

Also, I realized the other day when I was reading something about the Maccabees that I can't read the word without hearing "Maccababies" in my head, because you never watched an episode of any Nick show fewer than a dozen times if you grew up with Nickelodeon, so it's permanently welded into my brain.
posted by jason_steakums at 6:44 PM on December 7 [1 favorite]


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