Amid the hundreds of Christmas movies and romance novels, there are not as many books that highlight Hanukkah as the romantic time of the year it is.
However, between gift-giving, holiday parties, beautiful lights and winter weather, Hanukkah contains all of the elements of the best Hallmark movies.
Unpacked compiled eight of our favorite Hanukkah rom-coms — one for every night of Hanukkah — that will make you swoon, laugh out loud, and feel inspired to devour another.
“Eight Dates and Nights” by Betsy Aldridge
This fizzy YA romance is perfect for fans of lighthearted novels. Set during the eight days of Hanukkah, “Eight Dates and Nights” is a new romantic comedy that just came out in October.
The novel follows Hannah Levin, a New Yorker who finds herself spending Hanukkah at her grandmother’s home in Texas. Longing for her traditional snow-filled holiday back home, she meets Noah, the only other Jewish teen in town. Noah is on a mission to ensure Hannah experiences the best Hanukkah possible.
“Eight Dates and Nights” gives a Jewish flair to typical romance novel tropes, as Noah and Hannah don ugly Hanukkah sweaters, make latkes together and play truth or dare with a dreidel.
“Spark” by Allie Lasky
Another new romance novel, just released this month, is Allie Lasky’s “Spark,” the first of a Hanukkah romance series.
Arielle has been friends with Asher for 20 years because he sees her for more than just her neurodivergence. Her teenage crush on the boy-next-door comes roaring back after he nearly kisses her at Thanksgiving. Despite this, Arielle doubts her interpretation of the relationship.
“Spark” takes place over the eight nights of Hanukkah, giving Arielle eight chances to confess her feelings toward Asher so they can finally be together.
If you love a friends-to-lovers trope, “Spark” is the perfect fit.
Do you like fantasy novels? Read this next: Cassandra Clare wants readers to feel Jewish magic in “Sword Catcher”
“The Matzah Ball” by Jean Meltzer
Jewish romance titan Jean Meltzer rose to fame with “The Matzah Ball,” and there’s no debate on why.
NJG Rachel Rubenstein-Goldblatt has been hiding a secret from her family: She is a best-selling author of Christmas romance novels and is obsessed with Christmas. However, her chronic illness has always hindered her own romantic endeavors.
Faced with the challenge of writing a Hanukkah romance, Rachel struggles to find the same inspiration in her Jewish heritage as as she does in Christmas. Seeking a spark for her writing, she decides to attend the Matzah Ball, a Jewish music celebration taking place on the last night of Hanukkah.
However, that means seeing her former summer camp rival, Jacob Greenberg. In this enemies-to-lovers romance, these camp nemeses bicker and realize that there is more to one other (and to Hanukkah) than they initially thought.
To learn more about Jean Meltzer’s latest novel, check out Unpacked’s review of “Kissing Kosher.”
“Three Holidays and a Wedding” by Marissa Stapley and Uzma Jalaluddin
In 2000, Ramadan, Christmas and Hanukkah all overlapped in a rare occurrence, setting the stage for this unique novel.
Maryam Aziz and Anna Gibson are strangers who meet on a flight to Toronto. Neither expect to share their secrets with each other, but a bout of turbulence and an emergency landing changes everything. Anna, Maryam, Maryam’s crush Saif, and her sister’s bridal party find themselves unexpectedly stranded at the Snow Falls Inn.
Lucky for Anna, her favorite actor is filming a holiday romance at the resort and sparks fly between the pair. Maryam and Saif have a chance to reconnect after a childhood of friendship.
“Three Holidays and a Wedding” is a lighthearted multicultural romance, combining Maryam’s family observing Ramadan and Anna’s Hanukkah celebrations.
“Love and Latkes” by Stacey Agdern
Everyone loves a good latke-making competition, and the annual latke fry-off is at the center of Stacey Agdern’s “Love and Latkes.”
Batya Averman is over the moon when she is hired by the fry-off to be its web designer. However, her glee is immediately dampened when she learns the competition is in her hometown of Rivertown, New York.
Batya ran away from Rivertown after multiple embarrassments, including an unrequited crush on Abe Neumann. However, her past doesn’t stop her from continuing with her work, even when she learns that Abe is a contestant in the latke competition.
For his part, Abe is tired of his accountant job and is certain the prize money from the competition will get him one step closer to opening his dream Jewish deli. However, Abe realizes that maybe sharing his life with Batya might be just the change he needs.
“Seasons of Love” by Helena Greer
Out of all eight of our books, “Season of Love” most resembles a Hallmark movie — for all the best reasons.
Miriam Blum inherits her Jewish family’s Christmas tree farm when her great-aunt dies. She returns to Carrigans for the shiva, but postpones her plans to resume her bustling art career when she learns the farm is struggling financially.
In this heart-filled romance, Miriam’s biggest problem in saving Carrigans is Noelle Northwood, the farm’s manager, who is less than thrilled about her presence. However, the duo can’t deny that there is a spark between them in this enemies-to-lovers novel.
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“Eight Nights of Flirting” by Hannah Reynolds
In this bubbly YA rom-com, 16-year-old Shira Barbanel is determined to get a boyfriend before Hanukkah.
Shira believes that her great uncle’s assistant Isaac is the perfect candidate. However, she doubts he could ever reciprocate her feelings due to her weak flirting skills.
Shira’s ex-crush and current nemesis Tyler Nelson steps in to coach her in the art of flirting. Everything is strictly platonic until they get snowed in. Shira begins to realize that Tyler’s not the player she thought he was — and maybe he has been the right guy for her all along.
“Eight Nights of Flirting” is a hilarious, love triangle full of winter weather, hot chocolate and first love — a perfect young adult read for romance lovers of any age.
If you enjoy Hannah Reynolds’ storytelling, you can dive back into the same captivating universe immediately after with her companion novel, “The Summer of Lost Letters.”
“Recommended for You” by Laura Silverman
If you’re obsessed with workplace romances, “Recommended for You” is Unpacked’s choice for your next Hanukkah read.
Shoshanna Greenberg is a star employee at Once Upon, a beloved local bookstore. With her parents divorcing and needing money to fix her broken car, Shoshanna finds a refuge and escape in the familiar aisles of her workplace.
When her boss offers a bonus to the employee who can sell the most books, Shoshanna sees this as the perfect solution to her financial woes. However, charismatic new hire Jake Kaplan also has his sights set on the bonus.
Despite his lack of interest in reading and limited knowledge of books, Jake’s sales begin to eclipse Shoshanna’s.
His effective sales strategies and good looks make him a formidable competitior, leading Shoshanna to ramp up her efforts to ensure that Jake loses. But in the end, Shoshana and Jake discover that they’re not so different from each other after all.
“Recommended for You” is filled with silly hijinks and is a great deviation from most enemies-to-lovers novels with a very slow burn.
If you’re interested in reading more Jewish novels, read Unpacked’s interview with three Jewish romance novelists about their latest releases.
Originally Published Nov 21, 2023 01:33PM EST