Jewish Identity: A Case For Israeli Cinema


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Family University program
Jacksonville, FL
Class: Jewish Identity A Case for Israeli Cinema
Author and presenter: Noemi Szoychen

Published in: Education
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  • @sebachuffer Hola Sebastian. You are welcome to download it. I put together this presentation for an adult class on Jewish Identity and Israeli Cinema some years ago. I also coordinated a high school Jewish program on Israel and Jewish identity through contemporary Israeli Cinema. I Would also like to learn about your program. You can email me at
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  • Nice article.
    Is it possible to download it or receive it by email?
    What are you working in with this?
    I have a project about kids, cinema and jewish identity.

    Might be interesting to stay in touch.


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  • Hey, just wanted to share if you are looking for interesting online video classes about Judaism, psychology, and cinema visit
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Jewish Identity: A Case For Israeli Cinema

  1. 1. Jewish Identity:A case for Israeli Cinema<br />
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  4. 4. Demographics <br />ISRAEL <br />DIASPORA<br />2009<br />-15,000<br />2009<br /> + 85,000<br />*There are 13.3 million people around the world who define themselves as Jewish and who do not belong to any other faith<br />*Natural population growth in Israel that was partially canceled out by negative growth in the Diaspora resulted in a net increase in the past year of 70,000 Jews<br />*Arnold Dashefskyis a well-regarded expert on Jewish identity. In addition to heading the University's Judaic Studies Center, he is active in the Association for the Social Scientific Study of Jewry and the Association for Jewish Studies.<br />
  5. 5. Perceptions<br /><ul><li>Arnold Dashefsky,
  6. 6. The relationship between Jews with Israel is affected by the fact that Jews constitute the majority of the population. Jewish identity is taken for granted, while in USA Jews had been welcome in the American society, and this had the consequence that people are less interested in their Jewish heritage.</li></li></ul><li>
  7. 7. Jewish identity has not remained the same throughout the four millennia, which span the development of Jewish civilization. Nor is Jewish identity identical in all of the societies of the contemporary world in which Jews find themselves <br />Prof. Sergio Della Pergola from the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute and the Harman Institute of Contemporary Jewry at the Hebrew University<br />
  8. 8. "Straight Way Journey”<br />
  9. 9. "Roundabout Path" <br />
  10. 10. Key factors in the evolution of Jewish civilization and identity<br />Cultural<br />And personal Jewish Spheres<br />
  11. 11. Halakhic and non-Halakhic, ethnic definition<br />Development of denominations in the Diaspora<br />Patrilineal descent<br />Matrilineal descent<br />Emancipation period <br />Rabbinical period<br />Biblical period<br />20th century<br />
  12. 12. Zionism and the creation of the State of Israel, of course, have<br />dramatically affected contemporary Jewish identity<br />Rav Abraham Isaac Erik H. Cohen<br />
  13. 13. The Law of Return<br />1950 the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, enacted the Law of Return. According to it, any Jew, from anywhere in the world, who decided to immigrate to Israel would automatically receive full rights of citizenship, with all the privileges this would imply. Thus, Jews from over a hundred states answered the call, turning Israel into a genuine nation of immigrants, who had to integrate into the new nationality quickly, including their having to learn a new language. The Law of Return continues to be in force in the present day, having undergone several amendments. One of these, from 1970, extends the right of citizenship automatically also to the non-Jewish relatives of Jewish immigrants. <br />
  14. 14. Waves of Immigration<br />Jews came to the Land of Israel in several different waves of immigration. Each wave had its own characteristics in terms of geographical origin, causes, dimensions, dominant ideas and achievements in Palestine<br />
  15. 15. 11 million people living in the US who are eligible for automatic citizenship under the Law of Return, and another million in the FSU<br />Source: Jpost, april 15,2010<br /><br />
  16. 16. The Ethnic element:<br />Edot<br />Jews residing in different lands and living under different social, cultural and religious conditions, developed different customs, manners and cultural expressions. These Jewish "ethnic sub-groups" are referred to in Israel as "Edot". They are characterized by a particular place of origin (for example Yemen) and a distinct culture which can include dress, cuisine, song, dance, crafts, religious traditions, language and even Hebrew pronunciation.<br />
  17. 17.
  18. 18. Movies that deal with Jewish ethnic issues and Immigration of different Edot to Israel<br />
  19. 19. Following the declaration of the state, a flood of Jewish migrants and refugees entered Israel from the Arab world and the Muslim world in general. Most were Sephardim and Mizrahim, Jews from the Maghreb, Yemenite Jews, Bukhorim, Persian Jews, Iraqi Jews, Kurdish Jews, and smaller communities, principally from Libya, Egypt and Turkey.<br />
  20. 20. Film 1: The Forgotten Refugees<br />Genre: Documentary<br />1945 there were up to one<br />million Jews living in the Middle East<br />and North Africa outside the Palestine <br />Mandate - many living in .. all communities dating back more than three<br />millennia. <br />Today, there are only several thousand remaining.Who are these Jews? What precipitated their mass-exodus in the 20th century? Where did they go? And why do we always hear about the Palestinian refugees, but didn't even know these Jewish refugees existed?<br />* To watch the rest of this documentary click here: The Forgotten Refugees <br />
  21. 21. Film 2:Sallah Shabati<br />Israel, 1964<br />Director: Ephraim Kishon<br />Starring: HayimTopol, <br />Genre: Comedy<br />Run Time: 110 min.<br />Language: Hebrew<br /> Oscar-nominated for best foreign film, 1964. <br /> Israeli stage and film favorite ChaimTopol tops the cast of Sallah.Topol plays a Jewish refugee who moves his family to Israel shortly after the official establishment of that "promised land." Unlike his hard-working new neighbors, Topol is shiftless and lazy, forever finding the easiest, most painless means to support his family. Amazingly, Topol becomes a hero when, while wheeling and dealing, he uncovers misappropriations and corner-cutting in Israel's housing industry. <br />*For a preview of this movie click here: SallahShabati<br />
  22. 22. Film 3:Turn Left at The End of The World<br />A Film by AviNesher<br />(Israel, 2004, 108 Minutes, Color, Hebrew/ French, English subtitles, Cast: NetaGarty, LirazCharchi, AureAtika, Jean Benguigui)<br />The year is 1969. Into a small town in the Israeli desert, inhabited mostly by Moroccan immigrants, come a few Indian families – who have immigrated to Israel seeking a better life in the West. Not only do the Indians end up in a place distant from the mythical “West” – they also find themselves embroiled in a culture war with the Moroccans. The passionate and temperamental Moroccans – who consider themselves    “French” – look down on the dark skinned Indians. The reserved and quiet Indians, who consider themselves “British” – think of the Moroccans as uncouth ruffians.In order to assert their imperial identity, the Indians put together a rag tag cricket team.  The Moroccans, who take the game as a ritualistic act of condensation, do their utmost to disrupt.  The desperate Indians beg the British consulate for used equipment. The British, surprised that anyone shows interest in “their” game at this secluded part of the world, send equipment, and, as a post-colonial good will gesture, also dispatch a British team to play a friendly match against the town’s squad.  Though completely unfamiliar with the rules of the game, Moroccans join the effort to put the town on the map.  Much hilarity ensues as old enemies cross cultural mine fields and two teenage girls, a Moroccan and an Indian, discover the sexual revolution of the Sixties.* For a preview of the movie click here:<br />
  23. 23. Film 4: Shiva<br />A Film by RonitElkabetz,  ShlomiElkabetz<br /> ( Israel, 2008, 103 Minutes, Color, Hebrew/ French/ Moroccan,  English subtitles, Cast: RonitElkabetz, Albert Iluz, YaëlAbecassis, Hana Laszlo, Moshe Ivgy <br />It is 1991 in the midst of the first Gulf War and Israel is under daily missile attacks. But in the Ohayon family, tragedy has hit in more mundane circumstances as beloved Maurice, one of nine brothers and sisters, has suddenly died. The family gathers for the traditional seven days of mourning (shiva) in which they are not allowed to leave the house. The intensity of this situation is a catalyst for more than just emotional support and communal grief. Jealousy, gossip, long term rivalry and financial problems come to the fore, as each of the siblings is faced with his frustrated ambitions. Boasting an impressive cast of some of Israel’s best actors including Elkabetz herself, KerenMor, Yael Abecassis, HanaAzoulay-Safrari, Hanna Laszlo, Moshe Ivgy and AlonAbutbul, The Seven Days conveys the complexity of family life in a way that cannot but invite us to contemplate our own.<br />For a preview of the movie click here:<br />
  24. 24. Film 5: Live and Become<br />Film Details:<br />Country of Origin: France, Belgium, Italy, Israel 2005Original Language: Hebrew, French, Amharic Running Time: 140 min<br />Director/Writer: RaduMihaileanuWriters: RaduMihaileanu, Alain-Michel BlancProducers: Denis Carot, Marie Masmonteil, RaduMihaileanu<br />Cast:<br />Yael - Yael AbecassisYoramRoschdy - ZemSchlomo child - Moshe AgazaiSchlomo teenager - MoscheAbebeSchlomo adult -Sirak M. Sabahat<br /> The magnificent, epic story of an Ethiopian boy who is airlifted from a Sudanese refugee camp to Israel in 1984 during Operation Moses. Shlomo is plagued by two big secrets: He is neither a Jew nor an orphan, just an African boy who survived and wants, somehow, to fulfill his Ethiopian mother’s parting request that he “go, live, and become.” Buoyed by a profound and unfaltering motherly love – both in his memory and in the arms of his adoptive mother – he ultimately finds an identity and a happiness all his own.<br />* For a preview of this movie, click here:<br />
  25. 25. Religious Identity<br />Religious Identity:Secular, Orthodox, Ultra-OrthodoxIn the traditional society of the middle ages, all Jews followed the precepts of Jewish law as set down in the Bible, the Talmud and later rabbinic writings.<br />From the eighteenth century on, Jewish society began to undergo processes of secularization and acculturation to the surrounding society which led, especially in western Europe of the mid-nineteenth century, to the emergence of new religious trends (Reform Judaism, Neo-Orthodoxy and Ultra-Orthodoxy for example) as an attempt to redefine Jewish identity in an age of increasing modernization.<br />
  26. 26. The Haredim<br />Orthodox and Ultra-Orthodox Jews (referred to in Hebrew as "Haredim") formed the so-called Old Yishuv in the four holy cities as noted above. In the pre-state period, Russian Socialist-Zionist pioneers, for whom Judaism was a national-cultural identity as opposed to a religious one, played the formative role in creating the foundations of modern Israeli society.<br />
  27. 27. Datiim<br /> Modern orthodox Jews came to settle in Israel, both before and after the establishment of the state. <br />The large influx of Jews from oriental communities brought Jews who, for the most part, still lived in a traditional social and religious environment which included religious observance and practice. <br />While many of these took on much of the secular lifestyle of the Israeli majority, others continued to be religiously observant Jews, while still others were attracted to Ultra-Orthodox groups<br />
  28. 28. Masoratim<br />Immigrants from North America and other Diaspora communities have brought with them the trends of Reform and Conservative Judaism (known in Israel as Progressive and Traditional - "Masorati" - Judaism respectively).<br />
  29. 29. Film 6: In Her Own Voice<br />Directed by Yael KatzirProduced by Dan Katzir, Yael Katzir & Ravit MarkusColor. Video. 60 minutes<br /> This powerful film documents the courageous struggle of the famed “Women of the wall” movement. This group has spearheaded the battle for female equality in the religious world. Their main focus has been on the Wailing Wall - the holiest site for Jews where orthodox, conservative and reform women are not allowed to gather and pray. For the past decade they have challenged the government of Israel and the entire Jewish world by raising a lot of media attention both through colorful protests and by their unstoppable legal battle – which has ended several times at the Israeli Supreme Court which made some very controversial rulings.The story of the Women of the Wall is a test case for the deprived status of women in Israeli public life. The film is an outcry protesting religious coercion and the violent silencing of women. It's a film that raises many questions about the battle of the sexes within the religious Jewish world.<br /> This important film includes interviews with some of the most influential women Rabbis in the US: Laura Geller, Lisa Edwards, Sharon Brous, Lynn Brody, Naomi Levy and Denise Eger; as well as with Rabbi David Hartman of the famous Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. <br />* For a preview of this movie click here: Praying in her own voice<br />
  30. 30. Film 7: Religion.Com<br />A documentary trilogy directed by Ron Ofer and YochaiHakak, produced by Belfilms for broadcast on Keshet (Channel 2). This series can do a tremendous amount for bridging the gap that divides us from the ultra-orthodox world.<br />Religion.Com is about two men in the “haredi” (ultra-orthodox) community – one uses the internet and media in his work running a large and successful advertising agency, the other is fanatically working against the internet becoming part of everyday life in the haredi world. One believes in freedom of expression, the other believes that the internet threatens haredi society from within. Both men are charming and articulate in opening up to the camera and exposing their lives, their beliefs and their inner selves. In fact, the mixed audience of secular and religious Jews were equally fascinated and appreciative of these two charismatic men, who had so much to share with all of us.<br />This film, which was made by secular filmmakers, revealed an amazing amount of sensitivity to and understanding of the issues which the ultra-orthodox world faces in confronting modernity in contemporary Israel. Not only that, but one of the directors of the film, Ron Ofer, who spoke after the screening, said that the issue of putting limits on the use of internet is an issue we all face in Israeli society, so that the central issue of the film is not limited to orthodox Jews.<br />For a preview of this film click here:<br />Click here for the movie website:<br />
  31. 31. Factors redefining Jewish identity today<br />Mixing of ancestry<br />Decreased religiosity and increased ethnicity in Israeli Jewish life<br />There is a growing interest in some for ritual observance<br />Decreasing sense of ethnicity<br />
  32. 32. New Developments <br /><ul><li>Matrilineal descent law and traditional conversion specifications have been challenged and altered in recent times based on denominational standards and values, namely in the Reform and Reconstructionist movements </li></ul>(“The Changing Nature of Jewish Identity” 142).<br /> <br />
  33. 33. Questions for Discussion: <br /><ul><li>What factors unite and what factors separate the various groups which together comprise Israeli society?
  34. 34. On what basis is it possible to unite the largest number of Israelis?</li></li></ul><li>Resources<br />Israel Central Bureau of Statistics<br />Jewish Identity in the United States and Israel (Arnold Dashefsky, Bernard Lazerwitz, and Ephraim Tabory )<br />Jewish Identity Research: A state of the Art (Eric H. Cohen)<br />Statistical Abstract of Israel 2009-No.60<br />
  35. 35. The Films<br />Films<br />The Steven Spielberg Jewish Film Archive<br />ShallaShabati<br />The Forgotten Refugees <br />Praying in her own voice<br />Live and become <br />Weitzman Street Number 10<br />