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Fighting Antisemitism with Adam Sandler’s Hanukkah Song

While we continue to extinguish the “five-alarm fire” Senator Schumer talked about, let’s light up the America that thinks Jews are really cool.
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December 8, 2023
Jerritt Clark/Getty Images for Artists for Peace and Justice

When I saw this morning that a foundation had just donated $100 million to Robert Kraft’s initiative to combat antisemitism, which includes television commercials among its efforts, an idea popped into my head.

Maybe because of my advertising background, I thought of taking a clip from an Adam Sandler concert where he performs his famous Hanukkah song, in front of large, cheering crowds, and putting these words at the end:

“Happy Hanukkah, America.”

So cool, right? Well, I thought so.

The problem, of course, is that it feels tone deaf. At a time when the news is all about the alarming rise in antisemitism, it feels like a disconnect to focus on something positive, to remind America and our community that there is a whole other side to this country. That other side, let’s remember, has nothing to do with the ugly, Jew-hating cries to “globalize the Intifada” that is terrifying many American Jews.

That other America, the one where thousands of non-Jews show love for a Jew singing about a Jewish holiday, is one that is easily forgotten in today’s festival of hate. It’s an America where being Jewish is not just a symbol of success but also one of humor and coolness. Remember that country?

The America that is grabbing all the headlines today is the one captured by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) in his historic Nov. 29 address on the Senate floor.

He addressed his remarks, ironically, to non-Jews, which presumably includes Adam Sandler fans.

“I have noticed a significant disparity between how Jewish people regard the rise of antisemitism, and how many of my non-Jewish friends regard it,” he said. “To us, the Jewish people, the rise of antisemitism is a crisis—a five-alarm fire that must be extinguished.”

So, in one America we have concerts where non-Jews cheer a Hanukkah song from a Jewish comedian; while in another, we see “five-alarm” demonstrations where Jew haters cheer the worst atrocity against Jews since the Holocaust.

If you’re one of those Jewish college students who is feeling bullied and intimidated by this hysteria of hate, I could see why that Adam Sandler America would be the last thing on your mind.

But maybe that is precisely why Mr. Kraft’s foundation ought to run those Adam Sandler Hanukkah ads.

You see, there are two approaches to empowering Jews while they’re feeling under siege. One approach, which is mandatory, is to defend their rights and protect their safety using all means at our disposal. The community is doing that.

The other way is to boost their morale, to play up popularity rather than protection, to remind Jews that there is an America beyond the land of hate. That America won’t hit the streets to demonstrate its love for Jews; it would rather pay to attend an Adam Sandler concert or get HBO so it can catch the new season of “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

That America rarely makes the news. It is the haters who make most of the noise.

Those haters would love nothing better than to squelch Adam Sandler’s America; to drown it in their genocidal cries of “From the River to the Sea”; to stereotype Jews not as cool and funny but as cold-blooded oppressors representing the height of white privilege.

Because they’ve given their Jew hatred a progressive patina, the haters now have the wind in their sails, given the progressive storm that is sweeping much of our mainstream culture. No one feels they’ll get in trouble today by taking on a group they believe epitomizes what progressives hate about the West.

We’ve allowed the haters, then, to define both the Jews and America to fit their nefarious agendas. Their nightmare is the Adam Sandler America, the one that contradicts their dark vision, the one where Jews are admired rather than reviled. They’re lucky that, so far, they’ve had free rein to define us as they wish.

Let’s make their luck run out.

While we continue to extinguish the “five-alarm fire” Senator Schumer talked about, let’s light up the America that thinks Jews are really cool. There’s no better place to start, Mr. Kraft, than Adam Sandler’s wildly popular song.

Happy Hanukkah, America.

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