This week I had the opportunity to screen a documentary about a community of Holocaust survivors who bought a bungalow colony in the Catskills called the Four Seasons Lodge to spend their summers together at each year. I was looking forward to seeing the film after my cousin sent me a link to the trailer. I knew exactly why she was so excited about it -- the survivors in the trailer acted and sounded exactly like our grandparents, Ben and Rose Berkenwald.
I logged onto the computer last weekend to see that Anne Frank was a trending topic on Twitter. That was largely thanks to the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, which released (as the Bintel Blog reported) a new video, showing the only known footage of Anne, leaning out of a window and watching a married couple. It immediately became a hit on YouTube. Seeing such a timelessly tragic figure from another time on such definitively contemporary context — Web 2.0 — had an odd feeling to it. And then of course, Anne got caught in the middle of a bizarre dust-up between David Mamet and the Disney Studio. (Mamet’s re-imagining of the diary onscreen involved a contemporary girl going to Israel to learn about the trauma of suicide bombings) and she is the subject of a new book by Francine Prose.
I heard the news about Patrick Swayze's death when I logged on to Facebook last night and saw numerous status updaes about dancing the merenge and not putting Baby in the corner. Swayze's death is not just sad (he was only 57); for Jewish girls of my generation, it's the end of era.
Inglourious Basterds has been called the "ultimate Jewish revenge fantasy," in every review and blog post I have seen. I am not interested in adding my two cents to the debate about whether revenge fantasies are "good for the Jews" or "bad for the Jews." Instead, I would like to offer a different angle on the film.
Last week I wrote about the deficit of "kick-ass Jewish women" in film, and Sylvia suggested that Shoshana of Inglourious Basterds fit the bill. Now that I've seen the movie, I completely agree. The true hero of Inglourious Basterds is the heroine: Shoshana Dreyfus, a kick-ass Jewish feminist.
In honor of Pride month (and a relatively calm and safe Pride Parade in Jerusalem today - yay!), I'm posting our latest podcast: LGBT activist Shulamit Izen describing her experience coming out at a Jewish high school and creating the first ever Gay-Straight Alliance at a Jewish School. I had the privilege of being Shula's teacher at the New Jewish High School during the events she describes, and I learned a lot from her about pride and integrity.
Years ago, when I was working on my undergraduate thesis on Yiddish film, I attempted conversation about the subject at cocktail parties (well, at that point they weren’t yet cocktail parties, but there were definitely M&Ms) –
“Yiddish? Film? What? Like Yentl?”
No. Not like Yentl. They’re in Yiddish! And most of them were originally Yiddish theater productions. Molly Picon? ... No?... Nobody?... Nevermind. Is it hot in here? Pass the M&Ms.