Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
The Schmooze

William Shatner Is Nostalgic For His Childhood Hanukkahs

Do you remember the smell of the first latkes of the season in your childhood home?

David Anton’s upcoming PBS documentary is all about the Chanukah. The movie dives into the history of the holiday’s celebration and the rise of its beloved traditions. The film, aptly titled Hanukkah: A Festival of DeLights, interviews Jewish historians, rabbis, and celebrities about their experiences with the holiday.

William Shatner, the Jewish actor and “Star Trek” icon, speaks fondly of his childhood Hanukkah memories in the film. “The menorah was silver and blackened a little by years of use,” he reminisces. “The places where the candles went in were black no matter how much polishing had been done.” He goes on to explain that his family deeply valued the holy object, “It was something that sat somewhere on the mantelpiece all year long until it was used – and then it was used with great reverence,” he says.

Shatner describes the most drool-worthy factor of Chanukah: latkes. He remembers vividly, “My mother’s standing over a frying pan, putting the mixture of potato, the ground-up potatoes into the sizzling fat, the oil, and frying up potato pancakes.” He says, “The [memory of] potato pancakes and the applesauce… and the family all around having the pancakes is indelible.”

Shatner released an album for Christmas called “Shatner Claus,” but despite his deep-rooted connection and appreciation for Hanukkah, he did not incorporate any songs associated with the Jewish holiday. In “A Festival of DeLights” he says that he did deliberate over the decision.

“I was going to do ‘Dreidel, Dreidel,’ then I thought better of it… I mean, I should have, maybe.”

Hanukkah — glowing candles, sizzling latkes, and a touch of Jewish guilt.

Tamar Skydell is an intern at The Forward. You can contact her [email protected]

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.