Miriam Harary used to scour New York City bookstores in search of Hebrew textbooks for her students at Hillel High School in Ocean, N.J.Until recently, Hebrew language instruction at Hillel, like dozens of other Jewish day schools, depended largely on the initiative of individual teachers. Yet even the most ambitious instructors often were discouraged by the lack of formal curricula and age-appropriate materials for teaching modern Hebrew to teens.
How do you preserve a culture and yet move forward in a changing world? That dilemma is at the heart of the Jewish experience, so it comes as no great shock that almost all the films in this year’s New York Sephardic Jewish Film Festival center on that theme. The documentaries in this year’s event are particularly sensitive to the nuances of evolving cultures and the results are frequently as dramatic and poignant as you will find in any fiction feature this year.