One of the things that initially drew me to start watching “The O.C.” was its inherent Judaic elements. The show follows the Cohen family, complete with NYC-born Sandy Cohen, his Californian, Catholic wife Kirsten, and their son Seth. From the beginning, I loved all of the random Jewish references, such as Sandy making ``a bagel and a schmear” for lunch, sporadic uses of Hebrew and Yiddish words, and Seth’s stereotypical Jewish nana from the Bronx.
My favorite nod to Judaism throughout the whole series, however, was “Chrismukkah.” Chrismukkah was a creation of Seth’s in order to celebrate the best parts of both Hanukkah and Christmas during the winter season (even though the show was set in Newport Beach, CA and the temperature never went below 50°F). He wanted to celebrate the beliefs of both of his parents and pay homage to their upbringings in the Bronx and Newport Beach, respectively. To Seth, Chrismukkah could solve any problems, serving as a perfect blend of cultures and tolerance in the Cohen household. He also believed that this holiday had twice the magic of Hanukkah and Christmas individually.
In the first season’s Chrismukkah episode (‘The Best Chrismukkah Ever’), audiences are first introduced to this loveable holiday, and Seth uses the holiday’s magic to cheer up the Grinch-like Ryan Atwood. In the second season’s episode (‘The Chrismukkah That Almost Wasn’t’), the other characters begin to lean into the spirit of Chrismukkah, as Marissa and Summer attempt to pull off a Chrismukkah miracle and the Cohens welcome a new person into their family. In the third season’s episode (‘The Chrismukkah Bar Mitz-vahkkah’), the characters embody the Jewish principle of tzedakah by organizing a “bar mitzvah” for Ryan in order to raise money for a friend in need. This episode also adds an extra Jewish layer to the Chrismukkah fun by providing all the aspects of a bar mitzvah: reading from the Torah, giving a D’var Torah, and having fun with friends and family. Seth Cohen’s avid celebration of Chrismukkah on “The O.C.” inspired interfaith families across the country to begin making their own traditions that apply to their family’s unique religious denominations and beliefs.
The Cohen family is a perfect example of how holidays aren’t about deciding whether to decorate a Christmas tree or light a menorah. The holidays are about spending time with those you love and spreading happiness everywhere, no matter what your traditions are.
You can watch ‘The O.C.’ streaming on HBO Max.
Sophie Neuwirth is a BBG from South Jersey Region and loves to play the guitar.
All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.
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