When I asked you for nominations of the best Jewish movie for kids, the biggest surprise was that several of you mentioned "The Frisco Kid" with Gene Wilder. I had never seen the movie and figured it was some third-generation "Blazing Saddles" spin-off. We finally saw it this weekend, and I agree it should be near the top of the list.

It's a charming comedy about a humble but likeable rabbi from Poland send to America in 1850 to lead a new congregation in San Francisco. The movie is about his exploits crossing the West: teaching Native Americans how to dance the horah, bandits how to say 'oy' instead of sh-t, refusing to ride his "horsie" even when being chased by people trying to kill him.

For purposes of Hebrew school, the two most teachable moments involved a conversation that Rebbe Avram has with an Indian who is impressed by his willingness to die to protect his Torah and curious about the white man's God. The chief demands to know why, if the God is all-powerful, he won't listen to his tribe's prayers for rain. Avram is halfway done explaining that God is way too busy to deal with things like that when it starts to pour. Avram looks up, with a whimsical expression, and says, "But sometimes He changes his mind."

The most thought-provoking moment occurs during a showdown between some bad guys and Avram and his new best friend-a deep-down-good bank robber named Tommy Lillard, played by a young Harrison Ford. The scalawags throw Avram's Torah into the fire, and he rescues it instead of helping Tommy.

Avram is then forced to shoot and kill one of the robbers out of self-defense. He comes away from the scene profoundly depressed and later declares he's no longer fit to be a rabbi. Tommy-and my family-assumed that Avram meant that he could no longer be a rabbi because he'd murdered a man. No, Avram explains, it's because he chose to rescue the Torah instead of a friend. Though he has spent much of the movie risking his life to protect the Torah, he declares that it is ultimately a piece of parchment and valuing the life of a friend is more important.

The lesson for my kids from this movie, like the one I extracted from my experience a few months ago with Orthodox Jews who wanted to exterminate Arabs, was that being a good Jew relates primarily to how you treat others.

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