Disney is showcasing Princess Rebecca in time for Chanukah.
The Disney Junior Channel series “Elena of Avalor” recently introduced a new princess named Rebecca in an episode called “Festival of Lights,” another name for the holiday of Chanukah. Rebecca represents the first Jewish princess character Disney has created.
Following a post on Disney’s Twitter account on March 8 that showed four of its cultural characters for International Women’s Day, the Jewish comedian and actress, Sarah Silverman wrote on her own Twitter account, “Um you’re missing a lil Jewish girl in a green hoodie & candy stuck2 her hair.”
In the episode, Princess Rebecca, who hails from the Ladino kingdom of Galonia, is shipwrecked with her family off the coast of Avalor. The disaster happens while returning home for the Chanukah holiday.
They are welcomed into the palace of Elena, where they teach everyone about Chanukah, its traditions and celebrate.
“It has always been important to us on Elena of Avalor to showcase the diversity of Latin and Hispanic cultures,” Craig Gerber, the creator and executive producer of the series, said in an interview with Remezcla. “We decided to focus on Chanukah and a part of the culture that we hadn’t yet represented on the show.”
Rachel Ruderman authored the Jewish princess episode. She originally introduced Elena in an earlier Disney series, “Sofia the First.”
Tovah Feldush is the voice of Rebecca’s grandmother, Miriam. She is referred to as “Bubbie,” which is Yiddish for grandmother.
Jamie Lynn-Sigler, from the hit show “The Sopranos,” provides Rebecca’s voice.
“I am so excited to voice Disney’s first Jewish princess,” said the actress, who came to Israel in 2008 on a Birthright trip.
Disney’s first princess was Snow White, who appeared in 1937. Since then, there have been 11 official Disney princesses.
Over the past several years, Disney has expanded its repertoire of princesses, as well as heroines, to include more cultural diversity. The additions include: Jasmine, an Arab princess; Pocahontas, a native American; Esmeralda, who is Christian; Mulan, who is Asian; and Tiana, an African American.
Jewish blogger Lisa Dawn wrote her reaction to the show her The Princess Blog: Your Resource for All Things Princess. “I’ve seen many holiday princess specials, and this is the first one that Disney has released about characters who grew up with the same traditions as me. This is so important because it normalizes Judaism for today’s audience of children by showing them that not all fairy tale princesses celebrate Christmas.”
The Chanukah episode is available on the Disney Channel and the DisneyNow app.