Hebrew Hammer

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The Hebrew Hammer is a film that was released in 2003.  It stars Adam Goldberg,  Judy Greer,  Andy Dick,  Mario Van Peebles, and Peter Coyote.

The plot concerns a Jewish superhero known as The Hebrew Hammer who must save Hanukkah from the evil son of  Santa Claus who wants to destroy Hanukkah and make everyone celebrate Christmas. The film parodies blaxploitation films; and features Melvin Van Peebles in a cameo as “Sweetback”.

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The movie begins with a flashback to a young Mordechai Jefferson Carver.  At school,  Mordechai is tormented by his fellow students and his teacher for being a Jewish child in a Christian school, and celebrating Hanukkah while everyone else celebrates Christmas.  He feels further alienated as he walks through his neighborhood and sees a seemingly endless number of  Christmas decorations and window displays celebrating the season.  As he lies down on the sidewalk,  and spins his dreidel to cheer himself up…  a department store  Santa walks by and crushes the toy under his foot, then gives Mordechai the finger.

The scene then changes to Mordechai as a retired Captain in the Israel Defense Forces. He is now the Hebrew Hammer, a Certified Circumcised Dick who has dedicated his life to defending Jews.  His snappy dress (a cross between the clothes of a pimp and a Hasidic Jew) and tough-guy demeanor have made him a local hero within the Jewish community.

The Hebrew Hammer uses his “superpowers” to stop Damian, the evil son of  Santa Clause who is trying to ruin the meaning of  Christmas.  In the end, the Hebrew Hammer triumphs by stopping Damian’s evil plans while preserving the meaning of  Hanukkah and  Christmas for his Gentile bretheren.

The Hebrew Hammer parodies many common stereotypes about Jews.  During filming, the movie came to the attention of the Anti-Defamation League, who were concerned that it might promote unfavorable images of Jews. Additionally, many Christian groups argued that the film portrayed most Christians as anti-semitic and intolerant. After viewing the film, Warren Katz of  the Anti-Defamation League brought legal action against the producers of the film, but lost in a summary ruling handed down by the U.S. District Court – Northern District of  New York.

Many scenes were shot in Borough Park,  Brooklyn.  Filmmakers were initially concerned that members of the Hasidic community might protest the movie, as they did with the 1998  film A Price Above Rubies, and shut down filming. Reaction of  the Hasidim in Borough Park  was mixed, however,  no organized protest was pursued,  and some residents of the neighborhood actually agreed to appear as extras in the movie (source).

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