We asked you to send us your best ideas for Hanukkah movies. We chose our top 10. You voted. And now we are so excited to announce the winner of Alma’s Hanukkah Movie Pitch challenge!
Not coming soon to any theaters near you — because, again, we are not a movie studio but merely a Jewish website — is Paige Feldman’s original Hanukkah film, The Great Hanukkah Heist.
Here’s Paige’s winning plot:
In 2020, the year of COVID, murder hornets, and record fires, we all need a miracle. Hannah Rosenberg, art historian currently studying texts from ancient Jerusalem, is going to make one happen.
See, deep in the bowels of the Vatican vaults, under heavy guard, sits the menorah from the Beit Ha-Mikdash. The Catholic Church won’t admit they stole it, and repeated attempts to ask for it back have gone unanswered. Hannah has discovered, in her studies, that the miracle of Hanukkah is more than lore — it actually happened, and the menorah from the Temple, when put back in its place during the Festival of Lights, will help light the way to justice (and hopefully fix all the crap that’s been wrong this year).
Hannah assembles a crack team of Jewish geniuses, including her camp best friend, Molly (now a renowned hacker), Florencia (the head of the junior sisterhood at her temple, who also knows seven languages), and her ex-boyfriend, Judah, who mysteriously dumped her five years ago with no explanation and now lives in Rome (the Jewish quarter, natch), and who Hannah has never gotten over… Together, with a few others (including a badass Holocaust survivor financing the whole thing), it’s a race against the clock to break into the Vatican, find and steal the menorah, and return it to Jerusalem before sundown on 3 Tevet — the last night of Hanukkah.
The Great Hanukkah Heist is National Treasure meets Ocean’s 11 for those who love the Maccabees.
Paige told us where the inspiration for the movie came from: “I’ve always been an art history nerd, so I naturally have had a lot of questions about where certain stolen art and artifacts are and why, but that intensified when I went to Rome a few years ago. I’d been hearing for years about the amazing art collection of the Vatican, but when I toured, I was underwhelmed. Their collection was laid out very nicely, but sparsely. My tour guide made an errant comment about the Vatican basements and that was the seed. It grew when I heard that the menorah from the Second Temple was purportedly there, plus, Rome has a fantastic Jewish quarter (try the carciofi alla giuda, AKA Jewish style artichokes (they’re deep fried) if you ever visit!) which makes for a great setting. Also, National Treasure and Ocean’s 11 are such fun — we need Jewish versions of those!”
Paige is a Los Angeles based (and St. Louis born and raised) writer and filmmaker with a decade of experience working in independent film and TV sales, financing, and production. Films and shows she’s worked on have won Emmys, been shortlisted for Oscars, and premiered in festivals such as Cannes, Sundance, Berlin, TIFF, Tribeca, and SXSW. In her own words, her “stories, about complex women pursuing their dreams, feature protagonists who are driven, sex-positive, and Jewish,” like Paige herself. Looks like we found an actual moviemaker! Which is good news for all the fans of The Great Hanukkah Heist, because Paige wants to figure out how to actually bring it to the big screen. She’s going to start “researching and writing this script and maybe use this contest win as leverage to get some interest to get it made!”
Paige also suggested that anyone who wants to see her existing work and has a “hankering for Jewish stories” check out HOW TO FALL IN LOVE THE HARD WAY (as long as they’re allowed to see R-rated movies, as it’s very raunchy). “It’s about figuring out life, love, and friendship in your 30s and three of the five main characters are Jewish!”
Fun fact: Paige knows Katy Paul, last year’s Hanukkah movie pitch winner! From Paige: “[Katy] and I went to the same high school (and we’re friends). Voting for her last year was the reason I found out about the contest (and Alma)!”
We love to see it. And we also love to see artists supporting one another. Mazel tov, Paige!