UPROXX Interview: ‘Hebrew Hammer’ Director Jonathan Kesselman Explains The Chanukah Movie Void

Although Chanukah is not a major holiday (in comparison, to say, the High Holidays) its proximity to Christmas has bolstered its reputation. We now live in a world where many a Christmas tradition has been appropriated to befit the Festival of Lights — from Star of David wrapping paper to cobalt-blue fake trees. The media catch up, however, has yet to flourish.

When attempting to write a list of classic Chanukah films, the void becomes depressingly apparent. When Hebrew Hammer was released in 2003 — wherein a Jewish superhero [Adam Goldberg] sets out to save Chanukah from the new evil Santa [Andy Dick] — it joined a negligible canon of Chanukah movies that include Adam Sandler’s Eight Crazy Nights. So I spoke to Hebrew Hammer director Jonathan Resselman about the matter.

UPROXX: Growing up what were some Chanukah films you enjoyed? If there were any?

Jonathan Resselman: That’s a great question! Growing up, my favorite Chanukah movies were definitely… nope, I got nothing.

UPROXX: What do you think of this void of Chanukah movies?

Jonathan: Do you remember that Eric Stoltz/Cher movie, Mask, about that kid Rocky Dennis who has craniodiaphyseal dysplasia? There was this part in which he gets a really bad headache and then goes to bed and dies. It reminds me of that, minus Cher.

UPROXX: What have been some Chanukah movies you appreciate since Hebrew Hammer came out?

Jonathan: I’ve never seen it because I’ve been potty trained for a little while. However, I imagine I’d appreciate A Rugrats Chanukah if I still had to sh*t into a diaper.

UPROXX: Your movie shows the strife of the young Hebrew Hammer, feeling neglected and sad, showing how Chanukah seems somber in comparison to Christmas. Sure, it’s exaggerated, but what aspects do you relate to? How does this connect to your own childhood experience?

Jonathan: I relate to the strife coupled with feelings of neglect and sadness. Chanukah really has nothing to do with it.

UPROXX: Did you have Christmas envy as a kid?

Jonathan: No, but I had foreskin envy for sure.

UPROXX: Hebrew Hammer also shows that holiday movies leave impressions. Like when the Jewish kids watch It’s a Wonderful Life and it converts them to Christmas ways. Do you feel this effect is true to some extent?

Jonathan: I believe that there is [a] direct correlation between every school shooting that’s ever happened and the film It’s A Wonderful Life. Seriously. Re-watch the movie in that headspace, and you’ll see what I mean.

UPROXX: Hebrew Hammer also makes fun of the lack of movies with a strong Jewish protagonist. Do you feel that has changed?

Jonathan: It can change if The Hebrew Hammer VS Hitler gets the rest of its financing. If you’re a wealthy Jew reading this, and you want to create positive change in the world, let’s talk.

UPROXX: What is the fate of Chanukah movies?

Jonathan: I have nothing pithy for this question.