Videos on Jewish subjects in the Leyburn Library
(See selected film descriptions at bottom of page)

Feature Films

       European 
The Truce [French]  PN1997 .T7784 1998 (DVD)
Wondrous Oblivion  [British]  PN1997.2 .W65 2007  (DVD) 
Left Luggage  [Dutch, Flemish]
    PT5881.16.R48 L44 2001 (DVD) 
Only Human [Spanish]     PN1995.9.C55 O559 2006  (DVD)
Le Golem [French]         PG5038 .W49 G6 1990 (VHS)
The Garden of the Finzi-Continis [Italian]    PQ4807.A79 G513 1987
The Shop on Main Street [Czech]    PN1997 .S477
Les Violons du bal   [French]            PN1997 .V528 1992
Leo the Pig Farmer [British]            (VHS) PN1997 .L366 1994
The Governess [British]         PN1997 .G678 1998            (DVD)
Komissar (Russian, 1967)
Little Jerusalem  In a Paris suburb nicknamed La Petite Jerusalem, a family of Tunisian Orthodox immigrants lives in a low-income apartment. The film follows two sisters in this family, Laura and Mathilde.  Laura devotes all her time to studying secular philosophy, and Mathilde,a modest and obedient wife, warns her against abandoning God.  A central theme:  how to negotiate personal desire and sexuality with the restraints of Jewish law and society. We see many scenes of Tunisian Jews following the various rituals of the week and year, and scenes of the mikveh where women go to maintain "purity" in the marriage bed.  One sister seeks to awaken desire in her marital relationship and the other to extinguish all desire for the sake of the life of the mind.  Won several awards.  (French, 2006, 95 min.)

  
        Israeli or Israeli theme: 
Ajami    Directed by a Palestinian and an Israeli, acted by people who actually live in Ajami, a Palestinian neighborhood of Tel Aviv, and by retired Israeli policemen, with a script created spontaneously by the actors, spoken in their native languages of Arabic and Hebrew.  Powerful, realistic, tragic, and sympathetic story of Palestinians living in Ajami and Jewish police and an anxious Jewish family whose son disappeared in the West Bank.
     "Revenge, loyalty, hope and despair, draws us into the lives of two brothers fearing assassination by a Palestinian clan; a young refugee working illegally to cover his mother's medical expenses; a policeman and his family obsessed with finding his missing brother."  Academy Award nominee for best foreign film, 2010; winner of best Israeli film, best directing, best screenplay, 2009.  (Israeli, 2 hours)
Footnote (Heʻarat shulayim)    Written and directed by Joseph Cedar. 
Eliezer and Uriel Shkolnik, father and son, are professors at Hebrew University who approach the study of Talmud in opposing ways. Eliezer the father is a philologist trying to reconstruct an authentic master version of the Talmud before attempting to decipher what it all means. Uriel writes bold, popular theoretical books which win honors and accolades; the scholarly world ignores Eliezer to his great frustration.  Father and son also live their lives and relate to the wives and children, in very different ways.  Their story of conflict and love, which comes to a climax when one of them is offered the prestigious Israel Prize, is told in a light comedic manner, with lively complex orchestral music composed for the film.  Academy Award nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, 2012.  Many awards from the Israeli Film Academy, one award at Cannes. (Israeli, 106 min.)
The Lemon Tree  Directed by Eran Riklis; based on the true story of a Palestinian widow who must defend her lemon tree field when a powerful Israeli neighbor threatens to have it destroyed.  About separations (repeated image of the Separation Wall being constructed), politics, power, and conscience; how political decisions affect marriages.  Reminded me of the story in Kings 21, The Vineyard of Naboth, but the film's Jezebel rejects Ahab's attempt to control the neighbor's vineyard (the lemon grove).  (2008, 106 min.)
Live and Become    When Israelis rescue Ethiopian Jews to bring them to Israel (called Operation Moses), one Christian boy is told by his mother to "live and become" by pretending to be Jewish.  This is the story of his encounter with Israelis, their kindness and openness as well as some racism and religious prejudice; and his own shame, confusion, longing for his Ethiopian mother, and his idealism.  He is always searching for himself, grateful to his adopting family and the Jewish woman who loves him, not a Jew but ready to offer his life for Israel.  (Israelis come out looking pretty good.)  A French film directed and written by Radu Mihaileanu.  French, Amharic, Hebrew with subtitles.  (2005, 105 min.)
The Secrets   Located in the holy city of Safed, mainly in a young women's religious study academy.  Themes:  law vs. individual experience, women's roles in Ultra-Orthodox society, tradition vs. a change in women's roles, Kabbalistic ritual, guilt and atonement, friendship and homosexual love, compassion for the sick and the stranger.  New York Times:  "engrossing mixture of voluptuous spirituality and incisive sensuality." Winner of many awards.  (Israeli, 127 min., 2006)
West Bank Story   20-minute musical comedy by Ari Sandel, modeled on "West Side Story," about Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the form of competition between a Jewish felafel stand and a Palestinian hummus hut;  winner of Academy Award for best live action short film 2006
Waltz with Bashir.  Animated documentary about the director/writer's memories of his involvement in the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1983 and the massacre of Palestinians in refugee camps in Beirut.  Asks the question of why Israeli soldiers and politicians did not stop the massacre by Phalangist Christian militias.  Surreal dream and war scenes, ending with animated and filmed scenes of dead bodies and fleeing women in the camps, as the author's memory returns.  Nominated for Best Foreign Film, 2008.  (DVD, 90 minutes, Hebrew)
The Human Resources Manager     Based on a novel by Abraham B. Yehoshua.     During the suicide bombings of 2001, a bitter Israeli, distant from wife and job, travels to Romania and within the country, meeting members of a grieving family, entering the life of a Romanian woman killed in a suicide attack in Jerusalem, and making decisions on the road which gradually bring him back to life. (2010, Israeli, 110 min.)
Bruriah / produced and directed by Avraham Kushnir ; screenplay, Baruch Brener . 2008
Close to Home PN1995.9 .F67 C56 2007 (DVD)
The Band's Visit
The Attack
Fill the Void
Campfire  PN1995.9 .F67 C36 2004
Devarim  PJ5054 .S2643 Z33133 2006
Ushpizin (Guests) PN1997.2 .U84 2006 
Passover Fever  PN1995.9 .F7 P33 1995
The megilleh 
PJ5129.M26 M44 2007   
Bonjour Monsieur Shlomi   PN1997.2 K63 2004
Yana's Friends    PN1997 .Y236 2001
Broken Wings     PN1997 ,K5264 2004 
James' Journey to Jerusalem   PN1997.2 .J36 2004
Time of Favor      PN1995 .T5274 2002 
The Summer of Aviya         PJ5054 .H4969 H34 (VHS)
Kadosh            PN1997 .K24 1999
As If Nothing Happened    PN1997 .K45 2001
Song of the Siren    PN1997 .S3888 1997
A Woman Called Golda     DS126.6 .M42 W6 1982 (2 tapes) 
I Love You, Rosa         PN1997 .A212 1990 
Noa at Seventeen     PN1997 .N65 1987 
Siege             PN1997 .S491 1988 
They Were Ten         DS125 .T5 2006 (DVD)
Shiva.    PN1997 .S389
My Michael         PJ5054 .O9 M513 1987 
An Intimate Story         PN1997 .I516 1987 
Fictitious Marriage     PN1997 .F398 1992 
Kuni Leml in Tel Aviv     PN1997 .K82 1993 
Crossfire             PN1997 .E688 1996 
Three Days and a Child     PJ054 .Y42 T54 
Four Comedies by Ephraim Kishon (writer and director)
   
    Sallah             PN1997 .S13 1989 (DVD)
        The Big Dig    PN1997 .B496
        Ervinka    PN1997 .E6875 1999
        Policeman    PN1997 .P575 1999

        Yiddish: 
Green Fields             PN1997 .P462 1989 
A Brivele der Mamen (A Letter to Mother)  PN1995.9.Y54 B74 2002 Directed by Joseph Green in 1938, located in the Ukraine and New York City, about a mother's efforts to keep her family together in the face of poverty, war, and new ideas of romance.  (DVD, 100 min.)
Der Purimshpieler: the Jester     PN1995.9.Y54 P8 2002  Directed by Joseph Green in 1937. (DVD, 90 min.)
The Dybbuk             PJ5129.R3 D82 2005  (DVD, 121 min.)
Yidl Mitn Fidl         PN1997 .Y44 1988 
Tevye             PJ 5129 .R2 T4519 1989 a dark version of Tevye played by the outstanding actor/director Maurice Schwartz, who portrays Tevye as a tragic hero suffering for his faith; 1939, Yiddish, 96 min.
Mamele (Little Mama)     PN1997 .M258 1988

     American: 
Arranged       
PN1997.2 .A76 2007 (89 min.)
Sunshine
       PN1997 .S883 2001
A Stranger Among Us  PN1997 .S7815 2003
Fiddler on the Roof     PN1997 .F411
Hester Street        PS3505 .A254 Y42 1984 
The Frisco Kid     PN1997 .F76 1990 
The Jazz Singer     PN1997 .J353 J3 
Yentl             PJ5129 .S49 Y4 1989 
Enemies: A Love Story    PJ5129 .S515 E5 1990 
The Magician of Lublin     PJ5129 .S49 M413 1989 
Brighton Beach Memoirs     PS3537 .I663 B7 
Crossing Delancy     PS3569 .A516 C7 1989 
School Ties         PN1997 .S31355 1993 
Hanna's War         PN1997.H3 1988
The Imported Bridegroom     PS3505 .A254 I46 1992
The Chosen         PS3566.O69 C3 1983
Mel Brooks' History of the World Part 1

Novia que te vea = Like a bride  Mexican, 1994: conflicts of religion and identity of two Mexican Jewish girls, one Sephardi and the other Ashkenazi, in the early 1960s
Morirse está en Hebreo = My Mexican shivah   Mexican, 2007
Driving Miss Daisy (1989)
A Serious Man - written & directed by Joel & Ethan Coen (106 min., 2010)
The Hebrew Hammer
-Jewish superhero Mordechai Jefferson Carver (a.k.a.: The Hebrew Hammer) attempts to save Hanukkah from a psychotic Santa Claus, 85 min., 2003

    Holocaust [see complete list here]
Primo 
Adapted by Antony Sher from
"If this is a man," Primo Levi's memoir of his experience at Auschwitz;  starring Antony Sher, directed by Richard Wilson. A powerful stage performance filmed at England's National Theatre in 2005.  (88 min.)
The Garden of the Finzi-Continis
[Italian]     (DVD) PQ4807.A79 G513
The Pawnbroker     PN1997 .P374 1989 (DVD)
The Diary of Anne Frank (DVD) D810 .J4 F715
(1959, 3 hours)
QB VII PN1995.9.J8 Q2 1984 (3 tapes)
Schindler's List      (DVD) PR9619.3.K46 S3 2004
Europa Europa  Based on the memoirs of Solomon Perel. A Jewish teenager survives World War II by living as a communist and then a Nazi for 7 years. Best Foreign Film Golden Globe Award.  Begins with a scene of his ritual circumcision, the later threat to his secret.  Sympathizing with anti-religious communists and with anti-Semitic Nazis who temporarily protect him, he questions his identity.   (German, 115 min., 1991)  D810.J4 P473 ‎‎‎2003
Die Fälscher = The counterfeiters, 2008 (best foreign language Oscar)
Defiance, 2008
Zwartboek = Black book, Dutch, 2006
Amen
The pianist
Jakob the liar
The Great dictator (1940, Charlie Chaplin)
Defiance
The Reader
God on trial  / BBC Scotland, 2009 (Concentration camp inmates begin asking how God could allow so much suffering. )
The Truce
(1996, 2 hours),
based on the memoir by famous Holocaust survivor, Primo Levi, about his journey back to Turin after the Russians liberated Auschwitz;  directed lovingly, with on-location scenes in Poland and the Ukraine, by Franciesco Rosi, starring John Turturro and Italian film stars)
Everything is Illuminated

Documentaries:

Israel:
The silent exodus / a Pierre Rehov production
Israel: A Nation is Born         DS126.5 .I776 1992 (5 tapes) 
Jerusalem, Soul of a People     DS109.9 .J45 1990 
A Wall in Jerusalem         DS126.5 .W35 1989 
Yaacov Ben-Dov: Father of Hebrew Cinema     TR849 .B43 Y3 1993 
To Touch a City         DS109 .T67 1996 
Jerusalem: Between Heaven and Earth         DS109.9 .J455 1997
Searching for peace in the Middle East
(DVD) DS119.76 .S43 2006  
Foundation for Middle East Peace, c2006

American Jews:
The Tribe: an unorthodox, unauthorized, factual history of the Barbie doll  
Written by Tiffany Shlain and Ken Goldberg. "... rolls together archival footage, graphics, animation, Barbie dioramas, and slam poetry to take viewers on a fast ride through Jewish history and paradoxes of identity." (2006, 18 min.)
Shlom Ya'll
(DVD)     F220 .J5 S53 2002 (on Jews in the American South)  59 min., 2002
Jewish Americans, PBS Paramont (DVD), 2 discs, 6 programs, 360 min.
Hollywoodism:  Jews, Movies, and the American Dream 
    PN1993.5.U65 J3 1998
Yidl in the middle: growing up Jewish in Iowa / a film by Marlene Booth, 1999, 56 min.
The life and times of Hank Greenberg / written, produced and directed by Aviva Kempner, 1999, 94 min.
 

Jewish History: 
Anti-Semitism in the 21st Century: the Resurgence
(written and produced by Andrew Goldberg, hosted by Judy Woodruff;  focuses on the new anti-Semitism among Arabs and Muslims, exemplified by two TV series based on the Protocols)
La Ghriba (The miraculous): a Jewish community in the midst of Islam (Jews on south Tunisian island of Jerba)
Arab and Jew : wounded spirits in a promised land

Partisans of Vilna: the untold story of Jewish resistance during World War II
Last Jews of Radauit (Song of Radauit)         DS135 .R72 L37 1987 
The Dhimmis: To be a Jew in Arab Lands     DS135 .A68 D45 1987 
The Enchanted Travels of Benjamin of Tudela     PN1997 .E628 1991 
Jewish Communities in the Middle Ages         DS 124 .C65 1994 
The Disputation: a theological debate between Christians and Jews     BM 535 .D52 1991 
Image Before My Eyes: Jewish life in Poland before the Holocaust   (DVD, 88 min.)      DS135.P6 I4 2000
Acts of Faith: Jewish Civilization in Spain     DS135 .S7 A29 1995 
Toledo Judio: Museo Sefardi (on the Jews of medieval Toledo, in English) DS135.S75 T6 
Jewish communities of Kaifeng and Sana     DS135.C5 J4 1995
Jewish communities of Fez and Salonica     DS135.M8 J4 1995
Fliegel's Flight: a bird's-eye view of Jewish history     DS118 .F55 1988 
The Jewish Historical Museum, Amsterdam      DS135.N4 J49 1991 
Jews in medieval Spain          DS135.S7 J4 1996
Heritage: Civilization and the Jews (DVD) DS117 .H47 2001 (3 disks)   Contents: [1]. A people is born ; The power of the word ; The shaping of traditions -- [2]. The crucible of Europe ; The search for deliverance ; Roads from the ghetto -- [3]. The golden land ; Out of the ashes ; Into the future

Jewish Music and Art:
Tradition and transformation: a history of Jewish art and architecture / writer/director Ori Z. Soltes
Legendary Voices: Cantors of Yesteryear         BM658.2 .L44 1991 
From Toledo to Jerusalem             DS134 .F76 1990
In the Fiddler's House            1995, VHS, M1850 .I5 1995 
   Performers: Itzhak Perlman; with Red Buttons, Fyvush Finkel, Leopold Kozlowski, Brave Old World, Kapelye, The Klezmatics, The Klezmer Conservatory Band (55 min.)
Jewish Music Heritage Library: 
        Ashkenaz             M1852 .A74 1993 
        Teiman (Yemen)     M1850 .T4 1993 
        Hassidut: the music of the Hassidic community     M1851 .H37 1988 
        Morocco                 M1850.M67 1994 
        Sepharad: Judeo-Spanish     DS124 .S4 1993 
        One Day the Heart Opens: a concert of Jewish ethnic music in Jerusalem     M1850 .O66 1995 
        Toward Jerusalem: the music of seven communities     M1850 .T67 1995 
Ofra Haza: From Sunset to Dawn         M1825.18 .Y4 H29 1988 
From Exile to Exile: Art and Architecture         N7415 .T73 1987 (part 1B) 
Shalom of Safed                 ND979 .S47 S5 1988 
Story of two synagogues         N7414.9.B4 S65 1994

Religious Life:
Trembling before G-d (2003, directed and produced by Sandi Simcha Dubowski;  personal stories of gay and lesbian Hasidic and Orthodox Jews)
Celebrating our mistakes: stories and songs - Shlomo Carlebach, Diane Wolkstein
Yippee: A Journey to Jewish Joy / film by Paul Mazursky, 2006
Roots and Wings: A Jewish Congregation   (DVD)      BM700 .R66 1996
The Jew in the Lotus (DVD, 1998, 1 hr.)  
In Every Generation             BL65 .A85 S53 1987 
Jewish Symbols         DS113 .J4 1985 
Hanukah                 BM695 .H3 .H3 
Lights                 PN1997 .L461 1988 
The Talmud and the Scholar         BM755 .S83 T3 1990 
The Long Search: the "Chosen People"     BL80.2 .L64 Tape 7 
The Return
(on Baalei Teshuvah)             BM198 .R4 
In the Days of Ahasuerus         BS580 .E8 I5
In Her Own Time          F869.L89 J5 1986
A Seal upon thy heart      BM713 .S4 1992
A Life Apart: Hasidism in America    (DVD)    BM198.4.U6 L53 1997
The Return: a Hassidic experience
Jewish time and ritual (DVD)
Women in our time
(On the ordination of women to the position of rabbi)
The Gossamer thread

Holocaust [see complete list here]
The Truce            PN1997 ,M3547 1998
Faith Amid the Flames         D180 .J4 F53 
The Jews of Poland             DS135 .P6 J47 1988 
The Last Journey             DS135 .R92 L37 1987 
Doublecrossing: the Voyage of the St. Louis     D810. J4 D68 1992 
Shoa                 D810 .J4 S4 (5 tapes) 
Genocide   (DVD)      D810 .J4 G45 1981 
The Longest Hatred         DS145 .L68 
Timewatch : out of the ashes          DS125 .T55 1996
Weapons of the spirit              DS135.F85 L435 1989
Les Violons du bal               PN1997 .V528 1992
Paper clips / directed by Elliot Berlin, Joe Fab
Auschwitz--inside the Nazi state (KCET/BBC co-production, 2 discs, 300 min.)
Memory of the camps / WGBH Educational Foundation
A Jew among the Germans / Frontline, 2005
The children of Chabannes
America and the Holocaust: deceit and indifference (WGBH Boston, 1994)
Hiding and seeking: faith and tolerance after the Holocaust / Menachem Daum and Oren Rudavsky
The last days (Best Documentary, 1988)
A Portrait of Elie Wiesel: in the shadow of flames
(1988)
Das Boot ist voll = The boat is full (1981)
Paper clips (2006)

Yiddish Language, Literature, and Theater:
Yiddish Theater: a love story /  (DVD)PN3035 .Y53 2007
Yiddish: The Mame-Loshen      (VHS) PJ5118.Y5 Y5 1988 
Almonds and Raisins                 PN1995.9.Y54 1988 
Isaac Beshevis Singer: Champion of Yiddish Literature      PJ5129 .S49Z625 1991
The World of Sholom Aleichem             PJ129 .R2 A29

A Conversation with Isaac Bashevis Singer

Music Compact Discs:

Religious music: 
18 "Golden age" cantors: Masterpieces of the synagogue
Festival of light 
CDS 1717
The New year in song: melodies for the High Holidays
CS 3970
Days of Awe - Music of the High Holidays / Cantor Nathan Lamm 
- CDS 421
Shabbat Anthology, Volumes 1 through 5 / Various singers and choirs - CDS 4012
The very best of Shlomo Carlebach - Volume I  CDS 3990
The very best of Shlomo Carlebach - Volume II  CDS 3991
Generations - religious compositions by Gerald Cohen (2001) - CDS 211
And You Shall Be A Blessing by Debbie Friedman (1989) - CDS 4026

Klezmer: 
A guide for the perplexed: Jewish alternative movement
(Klezmer) CDS 1271

Yiddish-American klezmer music, 1925-1956

Klezmer pioneers: European and American recordings, 1905-1952
Simcha time: Mickey Katz plays music for weddings, Bar mitzvah & Brisses (The Klezmer sessions)
Live!: the thirteenth anniversary album / Klezmer Conservatory Band.
Yiddishe renaissance / Klezmer Conservatory Band
A jumpin' night in the Garden of Eden / the Klezmer Conservatory Band
Klezmer music / Brave Old World
The Klezmer violin of Yehoshua Rochman
  CDS 3906
Klassic Klezmer / Giora Feidman  CDS 397

Sephardic: 
Kamti lehallel = I rise in praise : the musical tradition of the Spanish and Portuguese Jewish communities of Amsterdam, London and New York 
CDS 3969 (2 discs)
My World / Alberto Mizrahi
  CDS 3987
Sephardic Music Festival
- Shemspeed LLC, c2010 - CDS 506
Wings of time: Jewels of the Sephardim / Lauren Pomerantz
, vocals, dulcimer. CDS 402
Songs from medieval Spain: Jewels of the Sephardim/ Lauren Pomerantz, vocals, dulcimer.  CDS 403

Other: 
A musical diaspora: the journey through Jewish song / hosted by John Schaefer
Our Song / Theodore Bikel, Alberto Mizrahi (Hebrew, Yiddish, and Ladino folk songs) CDS 3967
Jewish Songbook: Heart & Humor of a People
Blessings of Beauty: a classic collection of Jewish gems


Selected Film Descriptions

    "Sunshine"  Written by Israel Horovitz and István Szabó, based partly on the lives of famous Hungarian Jews; directed and produced by István Szabó.  Story of three generations of the Jewish Hungarian family "Sonnenschein," as it yields its values and Jewish identity to "power and lust," as great-grandfather Gustav warns will happen.  The "power" is the social and political rewards brought by allegiance to the Hapsburg Empire, demanding a change of names so as not to seem Jewish;  allegiance to a Hungary controlled by anti-semitic upper-crust families who demanded conversion to Catholicism; and allegiance to the proletariat equality promoted by the communist dictatorship and secret police who replaced the fascists.  Family virtues also crumble through "lust" in the form of adulterous temptations in each generation.  The audience knows that all these attempts to assimilate will fail to protect these Jews from the murder perpetrated by Hungarian Nazis and by soldiers at Auschwitz;  even the later communists begin executing Jews for being dangerous Zionist conspirators.  The family secret to survival turns out to rest in Grandmother Valerie's ability to discover beauty in the world around her (perhaps like the director, Szabo).  Recommended!  (1999, 180 min.)

    "Yippee: A Journey to Jewish Joy" Paul Mazursky talks us through his visit to Uman in the Ukraine where he joined a pilgrimage of 25,000 Hasidic Jews who come to the tomb of Rebbe Nachman of Bratzlav during the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah). Rebbe Nachman had promised that whoever comes to him at that time would receive his help in gaining a good "judgment" for the coming year. Mazursky, who talks so much that he drowns out other people's viewpoints, rejects this claim, the beliefs of the Hasidim, and Judaism in general. He calls himself a secular Jew, which seems to consist of Jewish jokes and identification with other Jews . The film contains some good interviews with a variety of Hasidic Jews who explain why they travel to Uman and how it has changed them, and we see some moving pilgrimage scenes, such as men praying before the rebbe's tomb and especially the pilgrims gathering en masse around Uman's lake at the end of Rosh Hashanah, and Mazursky himself finally claims that his trip made him more respectful of religious Jews, but Mazursky's understanding of Judaism is pretty ignorant and his clownish joking gets boring. (2006, 74 min.)

   "Devarim" (“Things”)     A film by Amos Gitai, who plays Goldman, cinematography by Renato ‎Berta, based on the great novel by Yaakov Shabtai titled “Past Continuous.” The plot begins with a funeral, and becomes a meditation on death and ‎the meaning of life. In Tel Aviv, people prepare food, eat, make love, get pregnant, and die. The film’s characters, dislocated from religion and ‎nation, live lives of individual freedom but disenchantment, drifting without meaning. ‎. The film’s central problem is expressed in the drunken ravings of Besh, who says, “Life’s a bitch but it’s mesmerizing,” “We’re only temporary, all of us,” ‎‎“If there was a God in this city, maybe we’d have something but even the devil fled, leaving us here with … a bunch of merchants who call ‎themselves Jews… Damn this city!” “I feel like shouting to this city, Pull yourself together!” ‎

    "Arranged"   An independent feature film written by Stefan Schaefer and based in part on the story of Yuta Silverman, an Orthodox Jewish woman from Borough Park, Brooklyn and her friendship with a young Muslim woman.  Both women face the possibility of disastrous arranged marriages and the disapproval of the secular establishment, represented here by the principal of the school where both women teach. 

    "Enemies, A Love Story"  With Anjelica Houston, Ron Silver, Lena Olin, Margaret Sophie Stein, Alan King. Directed by Paul Mazursky, music by Maurice Jarre. In New York City, 1949, Holocaust survivor and polygamist Herman Broder struggles with conflicting memories, desires, and obligations, in this ironic comedy. A screen adaptation of Isaac Bashevis Singer's novel. (1989, USA. Color. 121 min. R-rated.) 

  "Wondrous Oblivion"  [British]  PN1997.2 .W65 2007  (DVD)  written and directed by Paul Morrison.  Eleven-year-old David Wiseman lives with the singular dream of being a cricket star.  The son of a Jewish family, German immigrants scarred by loss of family in the Holocaust, who live in a racist and anti-semitic neighborhood of 1960s South London. David and his whole family are transformed by the arrival of new neighbors, the Samuels, a lively and big-hearted Jamaican family.  Starring Delroy Lindo as Dennis Samuels and Emily Woof as Mrs. Wiseman. (2003, 101 min.)

  "Time of Favor " PN1995 .T5274 2002 (DVD) Written and directed by Joseph Cedar, excellent score by Jonathan Bar-Giora.  Winner of six Israeli Academy Awards including Best Picture.   "A taut thriller about the tense relationship between the orthodox nationalists and the military.  Both a politico-psychological drama and a love story between a passionate woman and two best friends."  A highly respected soldier named Menachem is also a pious Orthodox Jew and a devoted student of a charismatic leader of a West Bank settlement, Rabbi Meltzer.  Meltzer directs a yeshivah, where he tells his students, all of them soldiers, that all Jewish hearts must yearn for  the Temple and the Messiah.  Some students interpret this as a call to blow up the Dome of the Rock.  But the rabbi's beautiful daughter, Michal, rejects all of his ideals (Settler and messianic) as cruel and ego-centric.  She wants to marry Menachem, but her father wants her to marry his star Yeshivah student, Pinchas.  The story becomes a tense conflict involving the Mosad, messianic fervor, broken hearts, secret tunnels, and Menachem's choice between love and Settler fanaticism.  The film takes a clear stand against the Orthodox Settler movement.  In Hebrew with English subtitles.  (2000, 101 min.)

    "Campfire"  PN1995.9 .F67 C36 2004 (DVD)  Written and directed also by Joseph Cedar, also with the Zionist Settler Movement as the social setting and also challenging its ideology (but less directly).  "The film is set in 1981, immediately after the peace treaty with Egypt and Israel’s subsequent ‎withdrawal from the Sinai desert, the events that provided much of the energy for the formation ‎of the original settlements. Recently widowed, Rachel Gerlick (Michaela Eshet) wants to move ‎to a new West Bank settlement. She thinks this will give her life meaning, and also provide her ‎teenage daughters, Esti and Tami (Maya Maron and Hani Furstenberg), with a stable communal ‎life. Motke (Assi Dayan), the group’s organizer, however, is worried about admitting the women ‎to such a tightly interdependent community. He appears sincere in his religious convictions. ‎There’s nothing fanatical in his public persona, and yet in private conversations, it’s clear that he ‎would willingly sacrifice everyone around him in service to his cause. Rachel’s ally in her ‎struggle with Motke is Yossi (Moshe Ivgy), one of the suitors Motke has lined up for her. Yossi ‎is an older and more reflective version of Menachem, the hero of “Time of Favor.” Like ‎Menachem, Yossi is a deeply sympathetic character, a man who observes without openly ‎criticizing, and who acts quietly but firmly. Both men are devout yet humanistic, open to ‎women’s needs and accepting of their emotions. " (films42.com) The occasion of the "campfire" itself reveals an ugly violent side of the Orthodox Zionist youth movement.  At the heart of the film is the family drama involving Rachel and her daughters.  (2004, 96 min.)‎

    "Left Luggage"  PT5881.16.R48 L44 2001 (DVD) 
Set in Belgium in 1972,  Chaja (Laura Fraser) is a rebellious philosophy student whose parents are Holocaust survivors;  her mother represses her memories and her father is obsessed with finding the suitcases he buried during the war, suitcases holding family albums and keepsakes, his former life.  Needing money, Chaja goes to work as a nanny for a Hasidic family with 5 children, one of them a troubled 4-year old who doesn't speak.  She feels repelled by Hasidic rules but loves the little boy and determines to help him. As the film progresses, Chaja (and the viewers) come to respect and sympathize with the Hasidic community, as well as see its faults (too passive toward oppressors), and to understand Chaja's parents.  Chaja gradually embraces her own identity as a Jew and child of survivors, seeking her own "lost luggage" with her father.  Chaim Topol plays Mr. Appleschnitt, a kindly Orthodox elder offering wise advice to Chaja.  In English, a Flemish and Dutch production.  (1998, 100 minutes)

  "A Stranger Among Us"  PN1997 .S7815 2003 (DVD)
Director:  Sidney Lumet, written by Robert J. Avrech.     Cast: Melanie Griffith, John Pankow, Tracy Pollan, Lee Richardson, Mia Sara, Jamey Sheridan, Eric Thal.  "Emily Eden, a New York City detective, must go undercover among Hasidic Jews to solve a puzzling murder."  A surprisingly detailed and sympathetic portrait of a Hasidic community  and its counter-cultural values.  Conservative ideals  of love and marriage, and the compassion and caring of a warm community, overcome the cynicism and self-hatred of the detective.  (110 min, 1992) 

  "Passover Fever" (or Passover Knight)  PN1995.9 .F7 P33 1995 (DVD)
Directed by Shemi Zarhin.  Comedy/drama about three generations of a modern Israeli family who convene to celebrate Passover.  Each of the four children and their spouses has a personal history of suffering and a love/hate relationship with the grandparents (played by veteran actors Gila Almagor and Yosef Shiloah), and behind much of the drama is the death of one of the sons in a military training exercise.  (100 min.,1995)

  "The megilleh" (DVD)
Directed by Ilan Eldad, filmed in Israel in 1983, with English rhymed dialogue and ‎Yiddish-language songs (with English subtitles). The film is based on the rhymed play “Songs ‎of the Megilleh" by Itzik Manger (1901-1961), a Yiddish writer from the same circle as Isaac B. ‎Singer. In the film a Jewish tailor’s village in Poland “which no longer exists” puts on a play ‎enacting the Purim story from the Book of Esther. Most of the film presents this play, in which ‎members of the village take on the roles of characters in the story; we are mostly watching the play, ‎commented on by an outsider who also appears in various minor roles. The tone is mostly silly and ‎cheerful, with plenty of Yiddish slapstick and sentimental songs, but the villain, Haman, is updated as a modern anti-Semite -- a cosmopolitan ‎fascist wielding a power drill who tries to destroy all the families of the loyal tailors’ guild. (86 min.)‎

  "Trembling before G-d"     (DVD)  HQ75.15 .T74 2003
A documentary built around personal stories of gay and lesbian Hasidic and Orthodox Jews. Portrays people who face a profound dilemma - how to reconcile their passion for Judaism with the biblical prohibitions against homosexuality. Includes interviews with closeted and out gay Orthodox and Hasidic Jews, including the first openly gay Orthodox rabbis, Steven Greenberg (2001, 84 min.)

  "Ushpizin" (Succot Guests)  (DVD)   PN1997.2 .U84 2006
Light hearted, serious, ironic exploration of the meaning of absolute "faith" as interpreted by the followers of the great Hasidic rabbi, Nahman of Bratslav, written, acted, and directed (mostly) by Orthodox Jews.  "Plot Synopsis: In Jerusalem's orthodox neighborhoods, it's Succoth, seven days celebrating life's essentials in a sukkah, a temporary shack of both deprivation and hospitality. A devout couple, Moshe and Mali, married nearly five years and childless, are broke and praying for a miracle. Being childless may force them, through Jewish law, to divorce though they love each other.  Suddenly, miracles abound: a friend finds Moshe a sukkah  he says is abandoned, Moshe is the beneficiary of local charitable fundraising, and two escaped convicts arrive on Moshe and Mali's doorstep in time to be their ushpizin - their guests. The miracles then become trials. Rabbinical advice, absolution, an effort to avoid anger, and a 1000-shekel citron/etrog (supposed to promote fertility) figure in Moshe's dark night of the soul." (2004, 92 min.)

   "Only Human" (DVD)  PN1995.9.C55 O559 2006
"Written and directed by the husband-and-wife team of Dominic Harari and Teresa De Pelegrí, this Spanish film mines the comic possibilities of the classic setup of introducing the fiancé to the family, with results that are playful, charming and surprisingly thoughtful. Rafi (played by Guillermo Toledo) is a professor of Arabic Literature at a Spanish university and, though a bit of a nerd, just the kind of man that rising television personality Leni  (Marián Aguilera) should want to bring home.  Except that her family is Jewish and Rafi is Palestinian."  Political and religious bias, fear, and resentment between Muslim Palestinians and Jews cause some of the conflict and are the text for an all-out heated argument between Rafi and Leni near the end of the film.  (2006, 85 min., Spanish with English subtitles)

   "My Michael" 
Dramatization of the novel by Amos Oz. In Jerusalem of the 1950's, Hanna, married to a mild-mannered geology professor named Michael, feels lonely and empty, and fantasizes romantic love and violence. "Its depiction of a shut-in, obsessed marriage is a vehicle for exploring the fenced-in quality of Israeli society"--NY Times. (1975, Israel. Color. Hebrew with subtitles. 95 min.) 

    "They Were Ten"
The first feature-length film made by Israelis. It presents the central Zionist "myth" through a story of ten Russian Jews trying to establish a settlement in 19th-century Palestine. Their difficulties are many--arid land, discouragement, quarreling, inexperience with farming, initial hostility of Arab neighbors. The final scene is of death and hopeful rebirth in a fertile land shared by Jews and Arabs. (1961, Israel. B&W. Hebrew with subtitles. 105 min.) 

    "Summer of Aviya" 
Ten-year-old Aviya has lived in orphanages most of her life because her mother, Henya, has spent much of this time in a mental hospital. In the film Henya, played by the famous actress Gila Almagor, takes Aviya home to live with her, but we see Henya struggling against her memories of Nazi Europe, where she fought as a partisan against the Nazis before being captured and placed in a concentration camp. The film's plot revolves around Aviya's attempt to discover her father alive, during the summer of the first year of Israel's independence, when many refugees were streaming into the new state. The story is based on the life of Almagor herself, who wrote and produced the film, and stars in it as her own mother. Directed by Eli Cohen. Winner of the Silver Bear award, Berlin Film Festival, and of three Silver Menorah Awards in Israel. (1989, Israel. Color. Hebrew with subtitles. 96 min.) 

    "Sallah" 
A comedy written and directed by Ephraim Kishon, the famous Israeli humorist. The film follows the exploits of Sallah (played by the actor Haim Topol), a new immigrant to Israel from Yemen, as he struggles to escape the ramshackle transit camp into which the government places him and his large family. While the film has some slapstick fun with Sallah, its main object of satire is the Western Jews who run the country: Israeli bureaucrats, Israeli elections, American Jews who give money to plant trees in Israel, Jewish American tourists, and especially the kibbutz, with its claim to a way of life that is more humane and egalitarian than that of others. Sallah makes complete fools of them all! "Sallah is fun! ... warm of heart, shrewd of head, and rascally to the core" (New York Herald Tribune). Starring Topol, Gila Almagor (when much younger than in "Aviya"), Arik Einstein, and Geula Noni. Academy Award nominee for Best Foreign Film, 1965. (1965, Israel. B&W. Hebrew with subtitles. 105 min.) 

    "Fictitious Marriage" 
Piercing farce about the tensions of life in contemporary Israel. After serving as a reserve soldier (presumably patrolling occupied Palestinian cities), a Jerusalem school teacher named Eldad Ilan has an identity crisis and leaves his family, ending up at the "California Hotel" in Tel Aviv. Mistaken in a park for an Arab, he joins a group of lively good-hearted Arab workers building a house in a Tel Aviv suburb, while in the evenings he enters a "fictitious marriage" with the attractive hotel clerk. In an early scene, an Israeli Jew in the park tells him that Israel is a "land of blood" and that he keeps his sanity by doing the simple, regular things day by day. Eldad's fictitious relationships represent a rebellion against the daily pain and unresolved crisis of this "bloody land." Watch for the symbolism of learning to squat while eating (with the hopeful image at the end). Directed by Haim Bouzaglo. (1988, Israel. Color. Hebrew with subtitles. 90 min.) 

    "Siege"
With some famous Israeli movie stars. Tamar is an Israeli woman who loses her husband during the Six Day War of 1967. Her husband's friends do not want his memory to be forgotten, but Tamar, living with her young son, tries to break away from the past and form new relationships. "A deeply moving film . . . an unusually effective call for peace"--Chicago Sun-Times (1970, Israel. B&W. Hebrew with subtitles. 95 min.) 

    "The Dybbuk" 
Based on S. Ansky's popular Yiddish play about love, broken promises, and exorcism. Khonnon and Leah, betrothed by their parents from before their birth, are barred from marriage. Khonnon, an adept of the magical satanic side of Kabbalah, dies of sorrow and returns as a dybbuk to possess Leah as she is about to marry another. This is one of the classic Yiddish films produced in Poland--dramatic and ambitious. "A motion picture of spellbinding strangeness and extraordinary distinction"--International Herald-Tribune. (1937, Poland. B&W. Yiddish with English subtitles [difficult to read sometimes]. 110 min.) 

    "Genocide"
Written by Martin Gilbert, narrated by Orson Welles, dramatic readings by Elizabeth Taylor from letters and memoirs; music composed by Elmer Bernstein. With footage from news-film and Nazi documentaries, and many photographs of the time, Genocide recounts the destruction of Europe's Jews, showing the earlier rise of political anti-semitism and the context of political events during World War II. Includes original drawings, image collages, and an animated sequence accompanying a poem, "I Never Saw Another Butterfly." Winner of the 1982 Academy Award for Best Feature-Length Documentary. Plausibly the best Holocaust documentary around, the one to see if you see no other. (1982, USA. Color. 83 min.)

    "Flames in the Ashes" 
Using testimony of eyewitnesses and recently discovered film, this video explores the many ways by which Jews resisted the Nazis before and during the War. (90 mins. B&W. Hebrew/Yiddish w/subtitles) "Faith Amid the Flames" How did religious Jews caught in ghettos and the camps respond? This film focuses on Jewish resistance through acts of devotion to a religious tradition scorned by the Nazis. (Color. 40 mins.)

    "I Love You Rosa" 
With Michal Bat-Adam, Gabi Otterman, Yossef Shiloah. According to the law of levirate marriage found in Deuteronomy, a widow must marry the younger brother of her dead husband unless that brother refuses. In this film, Rosa, a 20-year old childless widow, marries her 11-year old brother-in-law. Their relationship develops, over the ten years seen here, from one of guardian-and-child to that of husband-and-wife. Set in 19th-century Jerusalem, this story is based on the life of the mother of Moshe Mizrahi, the film's director and writer. (1972. Color. Hebrew w/English subtitles. 90 min.) 

    "Hester Street" 
With Carol Kane, Steven Keats, et. al. Written and directed by Joan Silver, based on an 1896 novella, Yekl: A Tale ‎of the New York Ghetto, by America’s preeminent Yiddish novelist, Abraham Cahan.  Offers a portrait of Russian-‎Jewish immigrants settling in New York in the 1890's and the problems of adapting traditional customs to a new ‎setting. The story: Gitl (Kane), joining her husband who has preceded her to New York, finds that he is in love with a ‎‎"modern" American woman and no longer wants her. The film ends with a clever and satisfying solution. (1974, ‎USA. Color. 90 minutes.) ‎

    "Fiddler on the Roof" 
With Hayim Topol (as Tevye), Norma Crane, Leonard Frey, Molly Picon (as the matchmaker) et. al. A Musical comedy by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, based on the stories of the Yiddish humorist, Scholem Aleichem. In pre-revolutionary Anatevka, a shtetl in the Ukraine, Jewish life has the beauty and precariousness of a fiddler on the roof. Tevye, the poor milkman, finds his traditions challenged as his daughters marry. Many aspects of Jewish life in the shtetls are portrayed but mainly (I suggest) as a life Jews left to come to America. (1971, USA. Color. 3 hours.) 

     "A Woman Called Golda"    Ingrid Bergman's portrayal of Golda Meir (Bergman's last performance) earned her the 1981-82 Emmy Award; the production itself received an Emmy for Outstanding Drama Special. Also with Ned Beatty, Anne Jackson, Leonard Nemoy, et. al. Music composed by Michel Legrand. This "docudrama" depicts the life of Golda Meir, from her frightening childhood in Russia and her new home in America, focusing on her emigration to Palestine, her work in a Kibbutz and as a leader of the Labor Party, until eventually being elected Israel's Prime Minister, and concludes with her meeting with Egyptian president Anwar Sadat. Her relationship with her husband (Nemoy) casts a sad shadow to her brilliant and influential life. (1982, USA. VHS, 192 min.) 

    "The Magician of Lublin" 
With Alan Arkin, Lou Jacobi, Valerie Perrine, Shelley Winters, Louise Fletcher. Directed by Menahem Golan, music by Maurice Jarre. In Poland, 1901, a Jewish magician and womanizer tries to juggle the many people, promises, and dreams of his life. Based rather loosely on the novel by I.B.Singer. (1979, USA. Color. 105 min. R-rated.)

    "A Life Apart: Hasidism in America"
A film by Menachem Daum and Oren Rudavsky, narrated by Leonard Nimoy and Sarah Jessica Parker
, 1997. "In this extraordinarily intimate film, seven years in the making, we are taken into the depths of the Hasidim's joyous, sometimes harsh, and often-beautiful world. From mystical tales to mesmerizing music, Rebbes to Holocaust survivors, A Life Apart reveals a strange, insular world few outsiders have seen, and fewer yet could imagine." (95 min.)

    "Roots and Wings:  a Jewish Congregation"
A presentation of Maryknoll fathers and brothers, Producer and narrator, Bill Grimm, 1996.  Scenes of religious ritual inside the synagogue of a Conservative congregation in Maryland and in the homes of members of the congregation, together with interviews with rabbis and congregants about the meaning of Judaism and how they try to live Jewish lives amid the competing forces of American culture. (29 min.)

    "My Mexican Shiva" (Morirse está en Hebreo) is a  comedy of manners centered around the seven-day Jewish mourning ritual called "shiva," but this film is much more interested in the conflict between the generations. The death of the family's patriarch - Moishe, an immigrant from Poland in 1937, an actor and philanderer - leaves his children full of anger and feelings of rejection; the young-adult grandchildren who come to the shiva have their own conflicts with their parents. The film tells the story of a gradual acceptance and reconciliation, and eventually a joyful affirmation of the grandfather's death and of their own love for each other. Two silly angels comment on the action, trying to guess the fate of Moishe's soul (but adding nothing to the plot). The Catholic maids and mariachi band playing at the end emphasize the Mexican cultural background. Film music by the famous klezmer band, The Klezmatics. (DVD, 98 min. Mexican, 2007)

    "The Jew in the Lotus" (DVD, 1998, 1 hr.)  purports to show how travel changed Rodger Kamanetz, who was going through a personal and ‎artistic crisis before joining the trip to Dharamsala. He undergoes a crisis on the night before the ‎dialogue with the Dalai Lama begins, but then the experience starts changing him. The ‎mechanism for this never becomes clear, but he’s a happy guy when he returns to ‎Dharamsala to give a copy of his book to the DL, and as he lectures to an audience at a ‎synagogue. The film suggests the strangeness of India and Tibetan culture. Shows different ‎approaches of rabbis (Zalman Schachter-Shalomi and Yitz Greenberg, also Joy Levitt) to this journey.

    Der Purimshpieler: the Jester (DVD, 1937, 90 min., directed by Joseph Green ) A sad romantic comedic musical fantasy (odd changes of mood, improbable plotting) about a lonely bad-luck wanderer named Getsel (a schlimazel) and two love-triangles ending with Getsel's lonely exit, the woman he loves finding happiness with a showbiz comedian, and the disappointment of the woman who loves Getsel.  One of the film's centerpieces is a Purim play with its parade of costumes and music. Scenes of a lively circus and vaudeville music provide a glimpse of Warsaw's then-thriving Yiddish revues and cabarets, which were destroyed soon after.  Lots of joking and wisecracks.  “A wistful romance that’s interspersed with songs but rooted in the wisecracks and banter of Yiddish culture.”  – J. Hoberman, The Village Voice.  “An incomparable window into the world of Jewish Eastern Europe in the 1930s, where the rich folk-culture of the shtetl and ghetto meet the urbane sophistication of contemporary European society. Stage dancing, an old-fashioned Purim play, and a singing love scene in the park." – Hankus Netsky

Many of these films were purchased through the Max and Silvia Weinstein Memorial Fund for Judaic Studies at Washington and Lee