Well pals, we asked for your best ideas for the ultimate made-for-TV Hanukkah movie, and you delivered. We received over 100 entries to our Hanukkah Movie Pitch Challenge, and we gotta say, you all are really good at this! So good that it was truly difficult to narrow the entries down to our top 8.
Before we get to them, we wanted to share some common themes we noticed: Lawyers. Lots and lots of lawyers, mostly named Rebecca. Latke competitions, which we’re not sure exists in real life, but should. Old camp flames reuniting as adults. Several Judah Maccabees transported from the past to modern life. Lots of bubbes doing lots of set-ups. Jewish bakers. Struggling delis. High-powered career women. And lots of exceptional punny names.
Okay, onto the top 8. Now’s your chance to vote for your favorite idea, which again, will absolutely not be made into a movie, but will be made into a fun digital poster. Once you’re read through them all, you can vote here.
By Carrie Nelson
Dina Katz is a professional gambler living in Las Vegas. She lives for the thrill of the game and there’s nothing she wouldn’t risk for a chance at victory. Naturally, when she travels home to Westchester to visit her family for Hanukkah, she eagerly signs up for her hometown’s annual dreidel tournament. But Dina’s confidence is shaken when she discovers that her top opponent is none other than her high school sweetheart, Jessica. Over the course of eight nights, dreidels are spun, old resentments are confronted, and desires are reignited. Will Dina’s feelings for Jessica interfere with her strategy? Or does love finally mean more than winning? Featuring a sultry cover of “I Have a Little Dreidel” by HAIM.
Gelty As Charged
By A.R. Vishny
Jewish attorney Natalie Greenblatt hates her job at the law firm Antiochus & Selucid LLP. The firm’s partner, famous conservative TV legal correspondent Mel Antiochus, leads a nightly charge against the “War on Christmas,” and expects the whole firm to do their part. But Natalie is willing to make ideological sacrifices to make her Manhattan rent, and Hanukkah was never that big of a deal to her anyway. That changes when she meets the firm’s new associate, Yehuda Macchabanai, a scruffy and uncompromising Jerusalemite who is actually from 164 BCE. Yehuda is paired with Natalie on a big religious freedom case, defending a local law to install a Santa statue in every public school in New York state. She is, at first, less than pleased by this upstart associate who seems to have no concept of the American legal system, computers, or how to resolve an issue without smashing anything up. But after weeks of burning the midnight oil with him, Natalie falls for his passion, dedication, and refusal to abandon his ideals. Together, they decide that a little rebellion might be just the thing the firm needs.
Hanukkah from A to Z
By Kelly McMeen
Alana Greenstein, career-driven photographer/owner of the family bakery, is almost 30. Her bubbe, Frances, who raised her after her parents’ semi-mysterious deaths in a tragic sufganiyot incident, just wants to see her married to an NJB before her own time comes. Alana is heading back home for Hanukkah, and has set up eight dates with eight different NJBs in the hopes of finding her beshert and making bubbe’s dreams come true. There’s just one problem: Frances has been conspiring with the ladies in her mahjong group to set Alana up with their grandsons! And one of them, unknown to Frances, is Anna’s total smoke-show bad-boy Birthright hook-up, Zach! How will Alana juggle Bubbe’s hopes AND 16 (yes, 16) smokin’ hot Jewish dudes, nine of whom are named David? What will happen when her all-glowed-up, good-guy sleep-away camp sweetheart, Zev, returns home after four years working with Doctors Without Borders (making it 17 hot Jewish dudes, and actually three problems)?
Home for Hanukkah
By Abe Merker
Rebecca Rosenberg is a serious career woman in New York City who doesn’t have time to call her mother more than once a week, let alone go home for the holidays! But when the company Rebecca works for goes under, she’s forced to return to her small town to get back on her feet. What she wasn’t expecting was Max Kaplan, her childhood best friend, to show up at her family’s Hanukkah dinner and change everything she thought she knew about what she wanted. In a world of all work and no play, will Rebecca finally make room for love, family, and the holiday spirit? Yes. Will Max be the one to light her menorah? Maybe. They will hook up in her childhood twin-size bed, and they’ll laugh about his Mets-themed bar mitzvah, but after a while will realize all they have in common are their memories and she’ll move back to the city, start a bakery/photography business/pet salon and marry a financial analyst (probably also named Max, or Josh).
By Jon Savitt
“Sometimes you feel a spark, sometimes you feel the whole eternal flame”
A recent graduate, Sara, just moved away from her hometown for the first time in her life. She’s anxious, lost, and to make matters worse — this will be her first Hanukkah away from her family (oy vey!). The challenge of making friends as an adult is an all-too-familiar experience. That’s when she comes up with an idea even her grandma would kvell about: She’ll throw a Hanukkah party! The invites are ready, the overpriced apartment is decorated (seriously, $1,350 for THAT?!). There’s just one problem — on the day of her party, the homemade latkes accidentally get bumped onto the ground (a case of anti-Semitism? The authorities are looking into it). Without latkes, a Hanukkah party is just a party. Sara needs to think fast. That’s when Ben comes in: a NJB (5’10’’, plays piano, at least that’s what his JSwipe profile says). As luck would have it, he’s been cooking latkes his whole life. He even skipped college to take over the family latke business, “Yam It Feels Good To Be A Baker.” With just hours until the party of the year, the two begin to cook up latkes — and possibly even something much more meaningful and less starch-based. Will Sara and Ben find a spark? Or will they find the whole eternal flame? Let’s just say this movie isn’t kosher for Passover. It’s rated R for “Really F*cking Jewish.” Coming to a JCC auditorium near you…
Let It Beshert
By Katy Paul
Amy Shoneberg and Jennifer Levine have been pitted against each other since birth by their well-meaning and overbearing mothers. From Girl Scout cookie sales to bat mitzvah themes to valedictorian, Amy and Jennifer have been at each other’s throats for years. After moving away from home to pursue their respective careers as legal council for a Fortune 100 company and world renowned neonatal heart surgeon, they’re both finally guilted enough by their mothers to return home for Hanukkah. On a last minute gift trip to the mall, they bump into each other at the Estée Lauder makeup counter searching for the only shade of lipstick their mothers will wear. As their conversation gradually turns from competitive to compassionate, Amy and Jennifer discover that what they truly wanted to win all along was each other’s hearts.
By Dan Glass
Nika Cohen (Tiffany Haddish), single high school English teacher, perpetual bridesmaid, and hater of the Christmas shopping season, is forced to attend a white-elephant-style gift exchange at work where she receives a dreidel-shaped little bottle of Schnapps, which she halfheartedly opens and drinks in her apartment before bed. In the morning, she wakes to a world transformed, where the Starbucks cups are blue with dancing menorahs, there is a giant spinning dreidel over the ice rink at Rockefeller center, and the radio in the cab is station after station of crooners belting Hannukah classics like “Well-Lit Night.” At the mall, kids sit on the shoulder of the jacked Uncle Judah (Jeremy Lewis, ironically not Jewish, played by Seth Rogen) who is aided in his present distribution by the Maccababies (Jenny Slate as the lead Maccababy). Can Nika and Jeremy reconcile their different experiences of loneliness, and their worlds, and find each other? Mall Judah is the hilarious story of what happens when love — and a little magical dreidel Schnapps — turns our world upside down.
Out of the Frying Pan…
By Sarah Alpert
Esther “Essie” Halperin takes a break from her big city job at Food Magazine to go home for Hanukkah. But her mother, the local rabbi, has thrown out her back, and she needs Essie to do what she does best: run a kitchen. Specifically, the synagogue Latke Contest kitchen. The catch? Her partner in the task is Religious Activities Leader and her ex-high school sweetheart, Sam Katzberg. They get off to a rocky start when Essie leaves her Egg McMuffin on a counter and they have to kasher the whole kitchen. Then Sam adds sugar to the mix instead of salt. Clothes are stained and someone (we won’t say who) drops six dozen eggs. But as the day’s prep goes on, Sam and Essie find themselves laughing more than bickering. Will one or two (minor) grease fires be enough to rekindle an old flame?
Thanks for reading, now go vote! Vote here!!!
Voting closes December 17, winner announced December 18.