Idol Chatter

Because May is Jewish American Heritage month, there are several blogs and websites that are posting lists of what movies they consider to be essential as a cinematic reflection of the Jewish experience. That’s far too intimidating goal for me to attempt. In fact, I think it can even be debated there are not enough films that represent enough diversity of the Jewish American experience. But I do have a few favorite movies – certainly not all of them are Oscar contenders – that have given me personally a deeper appreciation of Jewish culture and history and I thought I would share them here.
What are some of your favorites? Leave some sugestions in the comment box below.
For Your Consideration: This movie is not really about Jewish culture as much as it is a spoof about Hollywood and the Academy Awards, but the movie about making a movie taught me more about the Jewish holiday of Purim than I would have thought possible while still laughing out loud.
Paper Clips: An important little documentary that should not be overlooked, it is a simple yet powerful examination of the educational process a group of students go through as they build a Holocaust memorial out of paper clips. It’s a movie I personally have enjoyed showing in the classroom many times because my students end up loving this movie as well.

Driving Miss Daisy: The friendship between chauffeur Hoke and the wealthy Miss Daisy is a stirring, unforgettable love story in its own and an examination of civil rights as well as of Jewish culture and anti-Semitism in the South.
Crossing Delancey: Though this movie has an incredibly dated, 80s feel, it is still a favorite romantic comedy of mine that I have recommended before. This movie about a savvy New York woman being given the matchmaker treatment rises about stereotypes of New York Jewish culture while still making me wish I had a bubbe.
Biloxi Blues: I love Neil Simon’s entire “Brighton Beach” triology, but Mathew Broderick’s performance as Eugene and his time coming of age in the military is especially charming as Eugene learns to deal with life and love outside of his New York Jewish upbringing.
Enemies, A Love Story: A darkly comic look at a Holocaust survivor’s romantic troubles when he finds himself entangled with three different women who are all important to him for different reasons, “Enemies” is not as traumatizing to watch as “Sophie’s Choice” yet still provides a gripping look at the effects of post-traumatic stress and the deep desire to survive.
A Serious Man: I am not even going to pretend I completely understand all of the nuances of the latest Coen brothers film about a Jewish professor’s troubles in suburbia in the 60s. I understand just enough that I know I need to watch it again to figure out some of the layers of this complex look at faith, religious mores, and purpose in postmodern America. I also know this is the kind of film about the Jewish experience I would like to see more of.

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