Finally, there’s a good Hanukkah movie to watch this holiday season

  • Hallmark’s Hanukkah On Rye Hanukkah rom-com premieres Dec. 18 at 8 p.m. ET.
  • Two rival Jewish restaurateurs, Molly (Yael Groblas) and Jacob (Jeremy Jordan), fall in love.
  • The movie is funny, subtle, and doesn’t feel like a Christmas movie, which makes it worth watching.

Hallmark has finally hit its Hanukkah stride with this year’s new romantic comedy “Hanukkah on Rye.” It’s basically “You’ve Got Mail” meets “Crossing Delancey,” which is fun.

The Hallmark Channel has begun incorporating Hanukkah lines into its original Christmas movies with 2019’s “Holiday Date” and “Double Holiday” and “Love, Lights, Hanukkah!” in 2020. While they were well-intentioned attempts at fusion, they ultimately felt more like Christmas movies with poorly written Jewish characters included as an afterthought.

Last year, the network released its first entirely Hanukkah-focused movie, Eight Gifts of Hanukkah—a promising effort that, in my opinion, remains indistinguishable from the rest of Hallmark’s Christmas catalog.

“Hanukkah on Rye” finally gets it right.

‘Hanukkah on Rye’ is an authentic rom-com unlike any other Christmas movie, making it a rare, high-quality movie worth watching.

As a Hanukkah gift from each of their grandmothers, Molly (Yael Groblas) and Jacob (Jeremy Jordan) are signed up for an old-fashioned matchmaking service in which they only communicate through anonymous letters. catch? Molly’s family owns the beloved Gilbert’s Jewish Deli on New York City’s Lower East Side, and Jacob’s family is about to open their own Zimmer restaurant in the same building.

Their budding romance soon becomes complicated when their true identities are revealed. It takes a Hanukkah miracle to resolve their rivalry with a surprising twist that involves their meddling but well-meaning bubbles (grandmothers).

A scene in Gilbert's Deli from Hanukkah on Rye.

Jacob (Jeremy Jordan) and Molly (Yael Groblas) in “Hanukkah on Rye.”

Hallmark Channel

Both Grobglas and Jordan are a joy to watch, displaying spot-on comedic timing as their characters turn from enemies to lovers. Their banter strikes a balance in conveying their Jewish heritage without overdoing it and turning it into caricature.

The movie’s Hanukkah celebrations also feel true to the holiday itself, rather than a copy-and-paste of Christmas tradition. There’s public menorah lighting, a Hanukkah party at the local Jewish community center, and even a Hanukkah songwriting contest that features a cameo by Lisa Loeb performing her 2014 Hanukkah-themed single, “Light.”

The list of current Hanukkah movies is still so short that even the critically acclaimed Jewish films that are usually included as viable options at Hanukkah movie nights. It’s refreshing to finally have a good Hanukkah rom-com to enjoy this holiday season.

“Hanukkah On Rye” premieres December 18 at 8 p.m. ET on the Hallmark Channel.

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