‘Tis the season for the Goldbergs to face the ‘December Dilemma’

By Nate Bloom

The Goldbergs’ Hanukkah Episode; Hanukkah in “A Christmas Story”

The title family of “The Goldbergs” TV show didn’t “come out” as Jewish until a Hanukkah episode in 2015 (the 57th episode), in which it explored the problems of being Jewish during the Christmas season deluge. Hanukkah is at the center of the episode airing on Wednesday, Dec. 13 (7 p.m. CST, ABC ) when a competition arises as to who will throw the best Hanukkah party. There’s also a sub-plot involving Pops (GEORGE SEGAL, 83) advising his grandson to become popular by entering a school talent show and then realizing the boy can’t sing.

On Sunday, Dec. 17, at 7 p.m., Fox will present “A Christmas Story Live!” a three-hour production inspired by the hit 1983 film of (almost) the same name and hit 2013 Broadway musical. The musical (music and lyrics) was written by the team of BENJ PASEK and Justin Paul, both 32. They wrote the lyrics for the 2016 best song Oscar winner, “City of Stars.”

“A Christmas Story” is based on short stories by the late Jean Shepherd. It takes place circa 1950 and focuses on Ralphie, who is about 10 years old. Funny events involving Ralphie, his friends, and his working class family are sandwiched around the progress of Ralphie’s plan to get a special Christmas present. The story is very secular, and I’d venture to say that most Jews like it as much as non-Jews.

MAYA RUDOLPH, 45, co-stars as Ralphie’s mother, Mrs. Parker. Pasek and Paul wrote several new songs for the special, including a Hanukkah song. The news of the Hanukkah song was broken by Ana Gasteyer, who plays Mrs. Schwartz, the mother of one of Ralphie’s best friends. I’m guessing that the Schwartzes have become Jewish in this re-telling.

MATTHEW BRODERICK, 55, narrates the TV special as the voice of Ralph (Ralphie) as an adult. Broderick’s mother was Jewish and while not religious, he identifies as Jewish. He says the narrator role has special meaning for him because his late father, James Broderick, played Mr. Parker in a 1976 PBS dramatization of some other Shepherd stories.

Carrie flies one last time and Apatow on-stage

Opening Dec. 15 is “Star Wars: the Last Jedi.” As you guessed, the Skywalker saga continues as the heroes of “The Force Awakens” (2016) return for an epic adventure. The late CARRIE FISHER (Princess Leia) makes her final screen appearance in this film.

On Tuesday, Dec. 12, Netflix will begin streaming a new comedy special entitled “Judd Apatow: the Return.” The special marks APATOW’s first return to stand-up performance in 25 years.  He will be riffing on living with his wife and two daughters as well as recounting amusing career moments. Apatow, 49, was a relative failure as a stand-up back in the ‘80s, but his stand-up work did directly lead to a career writing TV comedy. His big breakthrough came when he directed and wrote “The 40-Year Old Virgin” in 2004.

Briefly noted odds and ends

This year’s “Jeopardy!” Tournament of Champions ended with a very exciting finale on Nov. 17 as AUSTIN “Buzzy” COHEN, 32, won, coming from way behind in the second half of the show. A music company executive, his father-in-law is MOSHE LEVIN, a beloved, recently retired San Francisco rabbi. Levin told J. Weekly, the San Francisco Jewish paper: “I always knew he was smart and funny, but didn’t know he was that smart and funny.”

Well, even the New York Times and USA Today fell for widespread internet mis-information that Meghan Markle, now the fiancée of Prince Harry, has a Jewish father. The Times corrected itself (Nov. 28) the same day it made the mistake.  Her correct religious background, as related in the Times’ correction, is Protestant born (but not baptized). She went to a Catholic girls school and intends to be baptized into the Church of England before marrying Harry. Her father is of varied European ancestry, including German and Irish (but not Jewish). Her mother is African-American. I suspect the “Jewish story” originated in the fact that her ex-husband, TREVOR ENGELSON, is Jewish and their wedding, reports said, contained “Jewish elements.”

 Readers, wonder, I know, so here’s the background of just a few of the celebs recently fired or suspended for sexual harassment: Charlie Rose isn’t Jewish; New York Times reporter GLENN THRUSH is, and MATT LAUER is the son of a Jewish father/non-Jewish mother. He wasn’t raised in any faith.