One Family’s Story of Jewish Life and Rebirth in the Shadow of the Shoah

Aug. 19 2022

Directed by Steve Brand, the 1984 film Kaddish tells the story of Yossi Klein Halevi, his father the Hungarian Holocaust survivor Zoltan Klein, his mother Breindy, and his experience growing up in Brooklyn in the shadow of the Shoah. The film has recently been remastered and rereleased, and was screened last week by Mosaic along with an interview with Klein Halevi. Karen Lehrman Bloch writes in her review:

Kaddish . . . is an intimately powerful documentary about the effects of the Holocaust on its first- and second-generation survivors, [which] movingly contemplates how trauma is passed down from parent to child.

At first, Zoltan didn’t see the point of bringing Jewish children into the world. But Breindy insisted. Three years later, Yossi was born. As with many survivors, having a family helped Zoltan reintegrate into society. But while other survivors did not talk about it openly, Zoltan wanted his son to be “emotionally prepared.” For many coming of age in the 1950s and 60s, the postwar years were a time of stability and calm, but Yossi’s childhood was dominated by his father’s belief that the Shoah could recur at any time.

As a child, Yossi and his friends organized civil-defense units, planning escape routes through Borough Park’s sewer systems. In the sixth grade, Yossi became a writer and activist, forming a Zionist discussion group and joining the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry. He led student delegations to confront Jewish establishment organizations in New York and eventually the Ovir—the Soviet migrations office—in Moscow.

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Read more at Jewish Journal

More about: American Jewry, Film, Holocaust, Yossi Klein Halevi

How the Death of Mahsa Amini Changed Iran—and Its Western Apologists

Sept. 28 2022

On September 16, a twenty-two-year-old named Mahsa Amini was arrested by the Iranian morality police for improperly wearing a hijab. Her death in custody three days later, evidently after being severely beaten, sparked waves of intense protests throughout the country. Since then, the Iranian authorities have killed dozens more in trying to quell the unrest. Nervana Mahmoud comments on how Amini’s death has been felt inside and outside of the Islamic Republic:

[I]n Western countries, the glamorizing of the hijab has been going on for decades. Even Playboy magazine published an article about the first “hijabi” news anchor in American TV history. Meanwhile, questioning the hijab’s authenticity and enforcement has been framed as “Islamophobia.” . . . But the death of Mahsa Amini has changed everything.

Commentators who downplayed the impact of enforced hijab have changed their tune. [Last week], CNN’s Christiane Amanpour declined an interview with the Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi, and the Biden administration imposed sanctions on Iran’s notorious morality police and senior officials for the violence carried out against protesters and for the death of Mahsa Amini.

The visual impact of the scenes in Iran has extended to the Arab world too. Arabic media outlets have felt the winds of change. The death of Mahsa Amini and the resulting protests in Iran are now top headlines, with Arab audiences watching daily as Iranian women from all age groups remove their hijabs and challenge the regime policy.

Iranian women are making history. They are teaching the world—including the Muslim world—about the glaring difference between opting to wear the hijab and being forced to wear it, whether by law or due to social pressure and mental bullying. Finally, non-hijabi women are not afraid to defy, proudly, their Islamist oppressors.

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Read more at Nervana

More about: Arab World, Iran, Women in Islam