Within the first ten minutes of Adam Sandler’s “You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah,” the Alma-award winning best Jewish movie of 5783, there’s a moment of exciting queer, Jewish representation. “Make some noise, mishpacha! It’s Devin’s B’nai Mitzvah,” DJ Shmuley shouts over a party scene. “They’re becoming an adult! Let’s hear it for Devin!”
Sammi Cohen, the queer and nonbinary director of “You Are So Not Invited,” recently revealed on a podcast that Adam Sandler was extremely supportive of adding queer elements to the movie.
“When we were doing prep for the movie and I read the script, it was great and I was madly in love with the story and everyone involved, but then I went, ‘this needs to be a little more gay,'” Cohen said in an interview on “Yenta!” a podcast from Jewish comedians Raye Schiller and Antonia Lassar. They went on, explaining how through the movie they looked into whether Jewish coming of age ceremonies existed for nonbinary kids because they struggled with their gender identity when they were 13. “When I discovered [b’nai mitzvahs or b-mitzvahs were] a thing and people are doing it, I freaked out. I was like, ‘Oh my god, we need to do this.’ So the first big party is a b’nai mitzvah and Sandler was so stoked to put it in.” (Side note: thanks to the movie, Sammi now has a Hebrew tattoo which says b’nai mitzvah! Aw!)
Raye then asked the all-important follow-up question: how was Adam Sandler with using they/them pronouns? Thankfully, Sammi relayed that Adam is “really great” and makes sure to ask questions when he’s unsure how to talk about queer culture. You heard it here, folks: Adam Sandler is a queer ally.
Sammi went on to share that the beloved Rabbi Rebecca character was also born out of their desire to make the movie more queer. “The rabbi was initially written as Rabbi Josh, it was a male rabbi,” Sammi explained, adding that they suggested the character be rewritten as either a woman or queer. (Another side note: according to Sammi, the Sandlers’ rabbi IRL is a queer woman!) Sunny Sandler, who was also a part of this conversation, then said that she loved Sarah Sherman. So they reached out to Sarah, who was immediately onboard, and the character was rewritten. And though Rabbi Rebecca isn’t explicitly queer, Sammi confirms all our thoughts that “there’s a lot of queer energy there.”
Thanks to Raye and Antonia for facilitating this amazing conversation! We can’t wait to see Sammi’s next project, which they teased on the podcast as being “a movie for the gay Jews.” Baruch Hashem!