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Chanukah Feature: Pbs, Npr Shine Light on Chanukah; Commercial Tv Offers Mostly Static

Chanukah appears to be lost amid commercial television’s blizzard of Christmas specials, so it’s up to public TV and radio to air Jewish holiday content.

PBS and American Public Television are offering a number of Chanukah-themed programs to some 347 affiliated stations. But it’s up to each local station to decide whether and when to run them.

Here’s what to look for, but for details check local listings and PBS’s Web site, www.pbs.org.

“A Taste of Chanukah” — Theodore Bikel hosts this cultural and musical celebration of Chanukah, which includes the Klezmer Conservatory Band, as well as the recipe for the “perfect” latkes.

“A Chanukah Mitzvah” — Mitzvah Mouse and his puppet pals David and Rachel, of “Alef … Bet … Blast-Off” fame, travel back in time and meet Judah the Maccabee.

“Chanukah at Bubbe’s” — In another time trip back, puppets visit everyone’s favorite grandmother, who relates stories of the Festival of Lights.

“December Dilemma: The Creche, the Dreidel and the Star” — This documentary examines tensions of the season and the “blending” of the holidays, as viewed by Jewish and Christian pundits.

“Lighting the Way: Young People Celebrate” — Four youngsters ages 11-16 play hosts as their families celebrate Chanukah, Christmas and Kwanzaa.

“New Jewish Cuisine” — Chef Jeffrey Nathan prepares the culinary delights of the holiday, including potato latkes, brisket and braided challah.

The Jewish Television Network will present some of the same programs over various cable channels and PBS affiliates in Southern California, Connecticut, Southern Florida, New York/New Jersey and Philadelphia.

Additional JTN programs are:

“HomeStyles” — Host Teresa Strasser comes up with innovative ideas for holiday decorating, chocolate treats and a new dreidel game.

“92nd Street Y Presents” — Contemporary chamber and choral music on Jewish themes, and the premiere of “Chanukah Suite” by Nora Kroll-Rosenbaum.

“Spirit and Song” — A documentary on a national gathering of choral singers joining in a concert of Jewish music, with emphasis on Chanukah and other holidays.

For more information on JTN offerings, log on to www.jewz.com and click on “Jewish TV.”

The Nickelodeon and Noggin networks will jointly air “A Walk in Your Shoes” on Sunday, Dec. 17 at 6 p.m. Two girls, one Jewish and the other Catholic, “switch” their lives for four days and experience each other’s religious observances.

For radio listeners, National Public Radio provides most of the Chanukah action over its 644 affiliated stations. Check local listings for dates and times or NPR’s Website at www.npr.org. Scheduled programs include:

“Chanukah Story” — A history of the holiday with past and contemporary music.

“Chanukah Lights” — A rich menu of holiday stories by Chaim Potok, Cynthia Ozick, Herman Wouk, Elie Wiesel, Sholem Aleichem and others.

“Mostly Meshugah! The Music and Comedy of Mickey Katz” — An hour-long Chanukah tribute to the king of Jewish musical satire, hosted by his sons and actor Joel Grey. Comedians Milton Berle and Sid Caesar will add their own brand of commentary.

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