The Hebrew Hammer was a 2003 comedy written and directed by Jonathan Kesselman that starred Adam Goldberg as the Hebrew Hammer, with a cast that included Andy Dick, Judy Greer, Sean Whalen, Mario Van Peebles, Peter Coyote, Tony Cox, and Nora Dunn, among others.
The plot centered on Mordecai Jefferson Carver (aka “The Hebrew Hammer”), a private investigator who defends Jews. Mordecai joins forces with Muhammad (Mario Van Peebles), leader of the Kwanzaa Liberation Front, in order to defeat the evil deeds of Santa’s son, Damian (Andy Dick), who threatens to destroy Hanukkah and Kwanzaa permanently during the Christmas season.
The film is based on “Blaxploitation” films such as Melvin Van Peebles’ Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song and Gordon Parks’ Shaft, which were (according to the now-defunct website to the original movie), “reactions to Hollywood’s inability or unwillingness to portray strong, sexy Black characters in the early 70s, Kesselman’s “Hammer” is his way of creating a new hero for a new generation.” 1
The film attracted some controversy when first released, particularly from the Anti-Defamation League, who were portrayed in the movie as the “Jewish Justice League” as well as some Christian groups who felt that the movie disparaged Jews and Christians alike. The film was shot in and around Borough Park, Brooklyn, with a high concentration of Hasidic Jews, who normally are not open to movie shoots in the area. However, though the reaction to the movie shoot was mixed, there were no protests against the filming and some members of the community were extras in the film. 2
- 1 “The Hebrew Hammer.” Wayback Machine Archive: http://web.archive.org/web/20041209073749/http://www.thehebrewhammer.com/about.asp?ct=1. Accessed December 5, 2012.
- 2 "The Hebrew Hammer." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hebrew_Hammer. Accessed December 5, 2012.
From the guide to the Hebrew Hammer (Film) Records, undated, 2001-2003, (American Jewish Historical Society)