If ‘Home Alone’ Was Jewish

What if the McAllisters were the McAleichems? If Old Man Marley was Old Bubbie Barbara? If the Gelt Bandits struck on Hanukkah?

Every year during the holiday season, everyone (including Jews) engages in the tradition of exclusively watching Christmas movies as the Hallmark Channel unfortunately lacks many Hanukkah movie options.

One movie in particular comes to mind as a holiday staple: a movie about the youngest kid in his family… who lives in the Windy City… who was left alone to fend for himself… of course you all know I’m talking about “Home Alone!” This film is not expressly about Christmas, but it does occur during the holiday season, which then poses the question: What would have happened in the film if the McCallister family (now the McAleichem family) were Jewish and celebrated Hanukkah instead?

Let’s use our imagination: What mishaps and mayhem might mark the Hanukkah season and infiltrate Levi McAleichem’s attempt to defend his home from the Gelt Bandits?

Music is a big part of Jewish holidays, especially Hanukkah. Who hasn’t sung the Yiddish version of “Oh Hanukkah” in front of their entire congregation? For the Christmas version of the film John Williams composed an iconic score, the most famous of the tracks being the theme, “The House.” However, in “Home Shalom,” the track would be titled “The Shtetl.” Additionally, the holiday songs featured would all be Christmas tunes written by Jews: think “White Christmas,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Let It Snow.”

As we all know, characters make or break a story, so some beloved characters must be Jewified: namely, Old Man Marley must become Old Bubbie Barbara, who is rumored to have murdered a man with her crochet hooks. And while the Gelt Bandits remain virtually the same, Harry’s iconic hat will be traded for a woolen kippah.

Instead of being home alone for three days, Levi would be home alone for all eight nights of Hanukkah, but luckily (unlike Kevin McCallister) Levi McAleichem has one thing going for him: A Jewish home never lacks food. This surplus of home cooked frozen food permits Levi to skip grocery shopping, and instead he says, “Baruch Hashem for these highly nutritious potato latkes and my mother who made them in advance and froze them. Amen.”

While the burglars leave Levi alone for the first few nights of Hanukkah, once he starts lighting more and more candles every night, he attracts their attention and spurs on their decision to rob his house. However, little do they know that this nice Jewish boy has some not-so-nice tricks up his sleeve, including but not limited to: pelting them with freshly powdered sufganiyot from the top of the staircase to impair their vision, blasting Maccabeats songs to distract them from the sound of his footsteps, putting dreidels on the floor for Marv to step on when he climbs through the window, dumping hot latke oil on the burglars’ heads when they chase him and cutting the power to the house so they must walk around holding a menorah for light. It truly is a miracle that he managed to trick them so well — one might say he’s an honorary Maccabee.

But tragedy strikes when Levi is cornered by the Gelt Bandits. What will he do?!

Never doubt the power of a concerned Bubbie! Bubbie Barbara has entered the house to complain about the noise, gripping her latke frying pan like a baseball bat. She yells “oy!” and nails the bandits in the back of the head with her weapon, and tells Levi, in a condescending tone, “You’ve got some chutzpah, kid.” She then invites Levi over to her house for the final night of Hanukkah and stuffs him full of her world-famous sufganiyot. And when Kevin asks her for the recipe so his own Bubbie can replicate it, she just says, “Add a little bit of flour. You’ll know how much when you see it.”

Meanwhile, Kate McAleichem is on a mission to get home to her son, who to her knowledge doesn’t even know how to pack his own suitcase. She hitches a ride with Gus Polinski, the Klezmer King of the Midwest, and once she gets home, the first thing she says to her son is not “Happy Hanukkah” or “Are you okay?”

No, the first thing she says to him is: “How could you do this to me?” It’s unclear what exactly Levi did to her, when she’s the one who left him alone for eight nights, but a good Jewish mother never needs an airtight reason for a good guilt trip.

At the end of the day, though, this entire imaginary movie amounts to nothing. Because really, can you imagine a yiddishe mamme leaving her child home alone for the holidays and not calling to check up on him 36 times a day? No way. Never gonna happen.

Read More