A Hallmark Rom-Com About a Jewish Wedding Is Coming – Kveller
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A Hallmark Rom-Com About a Jewish Wedding Is Coming

In the "The Wedding Contract," Jake Epstein and Becca Tobin play a couple headed to the chuppah.

Jake Epstein and Becca Tobin under the chuppah in a scene from Hallmark's "The Wedding Contract"

via Hallmark

Hallmark has gotten the memo: The people want more Jewish romance! And boy, is it delivering.

This year, the popular channel already gave us an excellent new Hanukkah movie and a delightful interpretation of the story of the golem. Now, we’re getting a Jewish rom-com exploring the wedding trope just in time for summer.

“The Wedding Contract,” which will be airing on June 17, marks the return of “Degrassi” (and “Suits!” and “Umbrella Academy!” He’s great in everything!) star Jake Epstein to the Hallmark Jewniverse, if you will. Epstein has starred in two Jewish Hallmark movies already, “Mistletoe and Menorahs” and “Eight Gifts of Hanukkah.” This time, he’ll be playing ad exec Adam.

Epstein is also a new Jewish dad (or jaddy, sorry, can’t stop using that word!). His wife, Vanessa Smythe, just gave birth to their first child this month. Mazel, Jake and Vanessa!

“The Wedding Contract” also stars Becca Tobin (“Glee”) as Adam’s love interest, Rebecca. Tobin, a Jewish mom of one, has been in four Hallmark movies before, but this will be her first Jewish one. We’re so excited.

Adam and Rebecca are an engaged couple whose upcoming nuptials are threatened by their widely differing world views. Adam is all about chasing success and riches, and Rebecca is all about building a warm Jewish home surrounded by loved ones. When a new opportunity at his ad agency might take Adam to Los Angeles, their values clash. And as their wedding approaches, Adam can’t stop prioritizing his work over everything else.

I do have to say this movie’s trailer and preview already fall into the overbearing Jewish mom trope, with a preview showing Rebecca’s mother, Sadie, played by Morgan Wheeler, and future mother-in-law, played by Laura Soltis, arguing and kvetching about her wedding dress at bridal shop — one wants a more elegant option, and the other, more pizzaz. In the clip, a friend suggests that Rebecca should elope, while the bride-to-be laments that “this is why there are no mothers-in-law in romance novels.” (Oh, but there are, Rebecca!)

Still, according to a Hallmark press release, the movie will show these two opinionated Jewish moms coming together to help their children realize that love is all they need. So at least they’re meddling moms with the best intentions.

Peter DeLuise, who has a resume full of Jewish rom-coms, is back in the director’s chair for this one, while veteran Hallmark writer Karen Berger, who wrote “Love, Lights, Hanukkah” and “Eight Gifts of Hanukkah,” is in charge of the script.

The recently released teaser of the movie opens with the breaking of the glass and then Adam proposing in the park, as a voiceover decries that, “Getting to mazel tov can be extremely tough” (I suppose that’s almost a rhyme). We also discover that the movie’s release date coincides with the date of Adam and Rebecca’s fictional wedding. There are lots of Jewish touches you can glimpse in the trailer, from Jewish wedding scenes to Jake joking, “We’re gonna need a bigger chuppah,” and Rebecca wearing an understated Star of David necklace. And yes, of course, there’s that background of the klezmer “Hava Nagila,” because that is the way we let everyone know this movie is Jewish, just in case you haven’t noticed. (Am I a bit tired of the klezmer “Hava Nagila” in literally every Jewish-adjacent movie? Maybe. But also this is a wedding movie so I suppose it’s appropriate.)

Despite some weariness, I have to say the scenes of the movie’s Jewish wedding are really, really lovely. Jake in his kippah, lifting a kiddush cup to Rebecca’s lips, who looks resplendent in a strapless wedding gown and pearls, with Michael Benayer, who plays Rabbi Solomon, looking benevolent and doting behind them, wrapped in a tallis, is giving me all the warm Jewish wedding feelings.

Jewish wedding traditions are so meaningful and unique — from the ketubah, to the chuppah, to the seven blessings and the breaking of the glass. They connect us with Jewish history and tradition, while allowing us to update those traditions to fit a more modern and just world. I’m glad Hallmark is exploring these Jewish traditions more, and sharing them with the rest of America, in this movie.

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