The Surprising Return of Yiddish to Film and Television

Dec. 20 2016

Over the past decade, writes Rebecca Margolin, there has been a “small renaissance” of movies and television shows that employ the Yiddish language. These include films produced in the U.S. and Europe featuring actors that have learned Yiddish for their parts, brief Yiddish-language scenes in the movie A Serious Man and the television series My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, an all-Yiddish Internet comedy series, and an action movie produced by and for Ḥasidim that features no profanity, no women, and a redemptive ending. Margolin describes the last of these:

A Gesheft (A Deal) was produced fully in what might be termed a “vernacular mode”: its directors, actors, and viewers were all members of a Yiddish-speaking ḥasidic community that produces and consumes media in Yiddish. . . .

The film, which follows the story of a corrupt ḥasidic character who ultimately finds redemption, abides by ḥaredi norms of behavior and morality . . . . Likewise, the moral conflicts of the film are resolved when the anti-hero achieves the forgiveness of the man whom he has wronged by devoting himself to the study of sacred Jewish texts until the end of his life. . . .

The relative moral turpitude of a character can be ascertained by how much English—a symbol of American integration—he incorporates into his Yiddish; the only character to die on screen uses extensive English slang.

Read more at In Geveb

More about: Arts & Culture, Film, Haredim, Popular culture, Television, Yiddish


Israel’s Economy Thrives While the Middle East Disintegrates

Jan. 19 2018

Now that the data have come in from 2017, it is clear that the Israeli economy had another successful year, expanding at a rate higher than that of any other advanced country. Israel’s per-capita GDP also grew, placing it above those of France and Japan. Daniel Kryger notes some of the implications regarding the Jewish state’s place in the Middle East:

The contrast between first-world Israel and the surrounding third-world Arab states is larger today than ever before. Israel’s GDP per capita is almost twenty times the GDP per capita of impoverished Egypt and five times larger than semi-developed Lebanon.

Like any human project, Israel is a never-ending work in progress and much work remains to integrate ḥaredi Jews and Israeli Arabs into Israel’s knowledge economy. Properly addressing Israel’s high costs of living requires more economic and legislative reforms and breaking up inefficient oligopolies that keep the prices artificially high. However, by any standard, the reborn Jewish state is a remarkable success story. . . .

Much has changed since OPEC launched its oil embargo against the West after the failed Arab aggression against Israel in October 1973. Before the collapse of the pro-Arab Soviet empire, China and India had no official ties with Israel and many Western and Japanese companies avoided doing business with Israel. Collapsing oil prices have dramatically eroded the power of oil-producing countries. It has become obvious that the future belongs to those who innovate, not those who happen to sit on oil. Israel has today strong commercial ties with China and a thriving partnership with India. Business delegations from Jamaica to Japan are eager to do business with Israel and benefit from Israel’s expertise. . . .

[For its part], the boycott, divest, and sanction (BDS) movement may bully Jewish and pro-Israel students on Western campuses. However, in real life, BDS stands no chance of succeeding against Israel. The reason is simple: reborn Israel has . . . become too valuable a player in the global economy.

Read more at Mida

More about: BDS, Israel & Zionism, Israeli economy, Middle East, OPEC