Oh my sweet baby Macabeo. A new Hallmark Hanukkah movie, “Hanukkah on Rye,” will be released this December and wait until you hear all the details about it. Seriously, prepare to be shaken to your Jewish core.
First of all, yes, this movie is about a Jewish delicatessen, actually Jewish delicatessen, plural. This has been a long time coming for us, some would say since the “Crossing Delancey” days. And yes, just like “Crossing Delancey,” this movie will have a nosy bubble — two nosy bubbles, in fact — and a matchmaker as well (although no one will ever match the greatness that Sylvia Miles was). It will also be all about the tug of war between tradition and modernity.
The film is about Jacob Leven and Molly Gilbert, whose families own “world-class delis.” They are each trying to pave their own path and modernize their family businesses to take them into 2022. The two meet when Jacob goes to New York City to look for a new deli location, and though there are sparks, they are too busy. be Jewish food professionals (running a Jewish deli is no joke!).
Concerned about their grandchildren’s lack of a love life, Molly and Jacob’s Jewish grandmothers sign them up for an old-school matchmaking service that involves writing letters (not emails, actual letters!). Unaware that they are writing to each other, the two form a real connection through these missives. In real life, tensions rise between the two when Jacob decides to open a deli on the same block as Molly’s. Gasp!
As the tagline for the movie goes: will a Hanukkah miracle keep them together? (Spoiler alert: yes, it will, this is a Hallmark movie.)
This premise is giving me strong Joan Micklin Silver and Nora Ephron (“You’ve got mail,” anyone?) vibes, all packaged in a Hallmark schmaltzy package (hey, schmaltz is great at a Jewish deli!).
Do you wish the Jewish deli movie was a real high production value romantic comedy? Maybe. But maybe this is just the beginning of an era of Jewish romantic comedy to come, calling Billy Eichner and Judd Apatow.
Now, let’s talk about this cast, okay? This film will star the one and only Yael Grobglas, aka Petra from “Jane the Virgin,” as Molly. I absolutely adore Yael (she recently had to learn to speak both Yiddish and Polish for a role in the excellent Amazon Prime series “Undone”). I would see anything for her, and this is no exception to her.
But that’s not all: this movie also stars Jewish mom Lisa Loeb (!!!) who could make me “stay” in even the cheesiest Hallmark movie (sorry I had to. But so does Lisa. the best and sweetest children’s music).
And that would have been enough (dayenu), except that the very handsome and nice Jewish father, Jeremy Jordan, will play Jacob. You may know Jordan from “Supergirl,” “The Flash,” and his many Broadway and Off-Broadway appearances, including “Newsies,” which you can watch on Disney+. This man is so talented. Though let’s hope this movie is a better Jewish representation than The Last 5 Years.
Hanukkah on Rye is also currently looking for some really worthwhile roles (the movie, like all Hallmark movies, is shooting in Canada, specifically Winnipeg, so that’s something to consider). These include Molly and Jacob’s nosy bubbles; Mrs. Tychosinsky, an old-school matchmaker; an emo girl singing an emo version of a Hanukkah song (it’s 2022 and I guess emo girls are still a thing? Who am I to argue with Hallmark greatness); a middle-aged latke aficionado and regular deli; and a boy who is excited for Jacob to “teach them some sweet tricks with the dreidel.” We have never met such a child, but he is fine.
Here’s hoping that Hallmark doesn’t skimp on the style of food for this one, that the Jewish jokes aren’t too stereotypical, and that the bubbes are as adorable as they deserve to be. The film will be released on December 18, which is the first night of Hanukkah. Here’s hoping it’s, um, well, turned on.
In the meantime, if you’re craving more Jewish romance, try one of these excellent Jewish romance novels.