Film review

From dust to human: A new Hallmark rom-com puts a twist on the Jewish golem legend

‘Made for Each Other,’ written by Israeli-American screenwriter Adi Blotman, centers around a mystical 16th-century folktale, with a 21st-century twist

Amy Spiro is a reporter and writer with The Times of Israel

The cast of the Hallmark film 'Made for Each Other.' (Steve Ackerman/Hallmark)
The cast of the Hallmark film 'Made for Each Other.' (Steve Ackerman/Hallmark)

It’s a classic girl meets boy story.

Except this time around, it’s a classic “girl carves perfect boyfriend out of clay, brings him to life by invoking an ancient Jewish folktale, and realizes that perhaps perfect is not what she’s looking for after all” story.

That is more or less the plot of the new Hallmark romantic comedy “Made for Each Other,” which premieres on Saturday. Centered around a magical Jewish amulet and a 16th-century myth, the film is an eyebrow-raising foray for the US cable network most famous for its cheesy Christmas movies.

But make no mistake: “Made for Each Other” is certainly still cheesy.

In the film, Rachel Becker, a sculptor and art teacher played by Alexandra Turshan, feels unlucky in love. She sculpts her ideal man out of clay and, egged on by her neighbor Doris (Illeana Douglas), places an old pendant with Hebrew letters around his neck. The next day, her perfect man has come to life, named, of course, Clay.

“I took the best parts of every man I could think of,” Rachel says in the film. “Couldn’t find a perfect boyfriend, so I made one.”

But as it turns out, perfect isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Enter lawyer-turned-comedian David Cohen — played by Matt Cohen and endowed with a name as generically and stereotypically Jewish as possible — as Clay’s romantic rival for Rachel’s affections.

The film was penned by Adi Blotman, an Israeli-American comedian and screenwriter.

“Still can’t believe I wrote a golem rom-com and Hallmark made it. THAT is magic,” Blotman tweeted this week.

For the uninitiated, golems are a Jewish mystical legend about beings made from mud or clay brought to life through the power of Hebrew letters. The most famous is likely the Golem from Prague, which was said to be brought to life in the city in the 1500s by the rabbinic sage known as the Maharal, in order to protect the Jewish community from antisemitic attacks.

The legend gets a tongue-in-cheek 21st-century update when Rachel sculpts her ideal man — complete with a six-pack and chiseled jaw — and wills him into existence.

“My bubbe used to tell me about the legend of the golem… it’s Jewish folklore,” Doris tells her. Together, the pair place a pendant from Doris’s grandmother — emblazoned with the Hebrew words “smart, strong, nice, loyal” — around the statue’s neck.

Aaron O’Connell as Clay and Alexandra Turshen as Rachel in Hallmark’s ‘Made for Each Other.’ (Steve Ackerman/Hallmark)

Surprise, surprise, the statue – which had a conveniently placed tea towel around its waist – comes to life, embodying everything Rachel had been dreaming of.

This isn’t the first foray for Hallmark – which is known for its family-friendly programming and has a history as a conservative Christian network – into Jewish fare. The TV station has aired a series of Hanukkah films in recent years alongside its wide array of Christmas movies.

And it has even dabbled before in some of the more obscure parts of Jewish observance. The 2009 Hallmark film, “Loving Leah,” features a Jewish couple who marry through the ancient Jewish rite of yibbum, in which the brother of a man who dies married but childless is encouraged to wed his widow (starring Ricki Lake as a rabbi and a pre-fame Timothee Chalamet).

Golem origin story aside, “Made for Each Other” is a remarkably Jewish film, notable in that it is not tied to any particular Jewish holiday that may be more familiar to a broader audience.

Alexandra Turshen as Rachel and Matt Cohen as David in Hallmark’s ‘Made for Each Other.’ (Steve Ackerman/Hallmark)

Though it leans a little too hard into the pushy Jewish mom stereotype, there are nods throughout the film that Jewish viewers will enjoy, including the omnipresent chocolate rugelach. It also features a Jewish wedding scene so accurate that — were the actors Jewish — they may have needed to seek a rabbinic divorce.

Both Jewish and non-Jewish viewers are likely to chuckle at David’s stand-up routines, though his jokes may hit a little closer to home for some members of the tribe.

“My family of course wanted me to be a doctor, and I rebelled against that Jewish stereotype — and I became a lawyer,” he jokes. “Then I decided to try comedy and really crossed a line… they haven’t returned my calls in a year.”

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