Celebrities Share Their Favorite Hanukkah Memories and Traditions

December 18, 2019
LLC/Photographer: Allister Foster

During the Festival of Lights, it’s all about family traditions, gift-giving and of course, food. We asked some famous MOTs about their favorite Hanukkah memories, and how they celebrate now.

Photo courtesy of Lisa Marie Mazzucco

I remember we had a project in school to make a menorah and I made one out of a sweet potato. I put the holes in it for the candles and the shammash. At the end of Hanukkah, I could have eaten it but I don’t like sweet potatoes. Whenever I see [a sweet potato] now it reminds me of Hanukkah. — Itzhak Perlman, violinist


Marissa Jaret Winokur

When I was growing up, we didn’t do presents for Hanukkah. We just lit the candles. It was very much about religion and family. Birthdays were when we got our presents.
— Marissa Jaret Winokur, “Perfect Harmony”


Mimi Leder; Photo courtesy of Apple+ TV

I still give my grown-up daughter eight little gifts every Hanukkah. No matter how old your baby is, it’s still so much fun to continue the tradition.”
— Mimi Leder, producer and director, “The Morning Show”


Director Gideon Raff of The Red Sea Diving Resort – Photo Credit: Netflix / Marcos Cruz

I love Hanukkah. My family really didn’t do gifts. My grandfather would bring us little coins from the Lubavitcher Chabad. When I’m home in Israel, the only thing I try to do on Hanukkah is avoid bakeries. They have amazing sufganiyot all over Tel Aviv and I’m trying not to gain weight.
— Gideon Raff, writer, producer and director, “The Spy”


Jamie Masada; Courtesy of the Laugh Factory

When Jewish comedians come from out of town, they have no place to go for Hanukkah, so we invite them to come upstairs for latkes. I spend an hour or two with them and then I go home to celebrate with my family. 

One year, a few guys got together and got me a big, beautiful chocolate dreidel with “Jamie, Happy Hanukkah” on it. I put it in the storage room because I’m very sentimental about this stuff. I didn’t want to eat it. A few years later I had the guys over for latkes and told them I still had it. I went down to the storage room to get it, and it was a big, brown mess. I think ants had eaten it. Very sad, but we had a good laugh about it. 

When I was growing up, living in Iran, we were poor. I never got a present. But I got a lot of love and that’s the most important thing.”
— Jamie Masada, Laugh Factory owner


LLC/Photographer: Allister Foster

I loved Hanukkah because I was a potato latke maniac. If I was on a deserted island the only thing I’d want is a bucket of potato latkes and applesauce to dip them in. I know how to make them and made them once. They’re so delicious.
This year I’m going to try again.”
— Matt Cohen, actor, “Holiday Date”

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