David Grubin’s epic documentary about Jewish life and accommodation in the United States begins and ends with scenes of the ship that brought 23 Jews fleeing the Inquisition in Brazil to safety in New Amsterdam. In between, over the six hours of "The Jewish Americans," are such staples of American-Jewish history as Congregation Shearith Israel in Manhattan, the immigrant experience on the Lower East Side and the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire.
But it’s more than New York City.
The 2000-Year-Old Man tells a 350-year-old story — about Jews in the United States.
The now-classic comedy routine of Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner, a new PBS documentary suggests, delivers a serious moral message about Jewish identity, about Jewish self-confidence, and about how the act itself became a part of popular American culture.