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 Has Survived Eight Years of Barack Obama’s False Friendship

Jan. 20 2017

In his speech justifying America’s decision to allow passage of the UN Security Council resolution declaring it a violation of international law for Jews to live in east Jerusalem, the West Bank, or the Golan Heights, Secretary of State John Kerry declared that “friends need to tell each other the hard truths.” John Podhoretz comments:

The decision in December by President Obama to abstain on the UN Security Council vote . . . marked the moment he crossed the finish line in the course he had charted from 2008 onward. The turn against Israel was complete. And, as he had when he began it, in farewell interview after farewell interview he characterized his assault on the legitimacy of the Jewish presence in the Holy Land as an act of tough love. . . .

Which raises the key question: why [only] abstain [from the resolution]? If “hard truths” define friendship, then by all means they should have made the truths as hard as possible. If Barack Obama and John Kerry truly believe the Jewish presence in east Jerusalem is illicit, then they should have voted for the resolution. Instead, they took the coward’s way out. They opened the vault to the criminals and placed the jewels in their hands while wearing white gloves so there would be no residual trace of their fingerprints. The abstention was in some weird sense the mark of their bad conscience. They wanted something to happen while maintaining some historical deniability about their involvement in it.

In the eight years of the Obama presidency, war broke out twice between the Palestinians and the Israelis and nearly broke out a third time. In each case, the issue was not the West Bank, or east Jerusalem, or anything near. . . . The idea that the settlements and the Jewish presence in East Jerusalem are the main barrier to peace between Israel and the Palestinians was proved to be a lie right before Obama’s eyes in 2009, and 2012, and 2014. And he didn’t care to see it, because he is blinded by an antipathy he wishes to ascribe to Israeli action when honesty would compel him to find it in his own misguided leftist ideology—or within his own soul.

Israel has survived the horrendous blessing of Barack Obama’s false friendship.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Barack Obama, Israel & Zionism, John Kerry, U.S. Foreign policy, US-Israel relations