This Week: "Jewish Journey: America" on PBS

Leaving and arriving – and crossing the sea -- is long part of the Jewish narrative. When the ancient Israelites left Egypt, the sea split and they crossed over.  Many Jewish immigrants to America had to endure crossings over rough seas, often crowded into the underbelly of the ship, in steerage.

Family Portrait: Jewish immigrants from Egypt in America at a 1928 wedding. Courtesy Andre Aciman

The Great Escape

The Soviet Jewry hijacking plot of 1970, soon to be a film.

10/27/2014 - 20:00
Associate Editor

In the Orwellian Soviet Union, the 1970 hijacking of a plane by Soviet Jews was the crime of the century, its masterminds sentenced to death, although the hijacking never happened. It was a time, as Dylan sang, when too much of nothing could make a man abuse a king, sleep on nails or eat fire, and Soviet Jews had too much of nothing, routinely sent into — and lost within — the gulag “archipelago” of icy Siberian labor camps for simply teaching Hebrew or requesting a visa to Israel. And so a handful of Soviet Jews dreamed of hijacking a plane, flying over the Iron Curtain to freedom. They were caught in the airport, in the early morning fog, sentenced to years in the gulag and two were sentenced to death for hijacking — sentenced for dreaming; they never got on a plane.

Director Anat Kuznetzov-Zalmanson, daughter of Edward Kuzentzov and Sylva Zalmanson. Michael Datikash/JW

‘She’ll Help You Live A Happier Life’

Doc featuring Alice Herz-Sommer, world’s oldest Holocaust survivor, wins Oscar just days after her death.

03/03/2014 - 19:00

Los Angeles — In her 110 years, Alice Herz-Sommer was an accomplished concert pianist and teacher, a wife and mother — and a prisoner in Theresienstadt.

Alice Herz-Sommer, the subject of an Oscar-winning documentary. “Music is God,” she would say.  JTA

The Babe As Humanitarian

09/24/2013 - 20:00
Staff Writer

Yankee great Babe Ruth was many things — prodigious slugger, as well as prodigious drinker and carouser.

But humanitarian and early Hitler critic?

Poster for “Universal Babe:" A different side of the Sultan of Swat.

Two States For Two People?

New documentary looks at the chances for a deal between the Israelis and Palestinians.
05/13/2013 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

The cover of the latest issue of Moment Magazine asks, “Is the Two-State Solution Dead?” Israeli documentarian Dan Setton approaches the same question in his new film “State 194,” opening on May 17, with a sober, somber tread befitting the slow-motion train wreck that Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations have become.

Former PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad in scene from “State 194.”

Tainted Names and New Jewish Identities

As I write that descendants of prominent Nazis have chosen to live in Israel today, and that some of them – with surnames like Goering, Goebbels or Himmler -- are converted to Judaism or in process, I realize that readers will reread this sentence to make sure they didn’t misread.

The Holocaust As Family Affair

‘Six Million and One’ charts the emotional toll the Shoah has exacted on the filmmaker’s clan.
09/23/2012 - 20:00
Special to the Jewish Week

The first image one sees in David Fisher’s new documentary “Six Million and One” is a crumbling stone doorway bridged by a spider web. The visual irony is striking, with the rough yellow stone breaking down, the wispy lacework sturdy and undamaged. That irony is, perhaps, at the center of Fisher’s film.

Retracing dad’s footsteps: Filmmaker David Fisher and his siblings at Mauthausen, top, and on park bench.

Netanyahu Recalls His Heroic Brother

05/14/2012 - 20:00

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, commenting on “Follow Me,” a documentary film opening here this week on the life of his heroic older brother, Yonatan, told The Jewish Week: “This film will show an American audience about Yoni’s humanity, his leadership, and his commitment to Israel.”

Yonatan Netanyahu, a highly decorated Israeli soldier, was killed leading the Entebbe rescue in Uganda in 1976 that saved the lives of more than 100 Israeli hostages.

Yonatan Netanyahu, with his wife Tutti, and dog, Lara, in new documentary, “Follow Me.”

The Art Of The Steal

The story behind the provenance fight over Egon Schiele’s ‘Portrait of Wally.’
05/07/2012 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

It’s not a very large painting, not much more than a square foot of oil on canvas. But Egon Schiele’s portrait of his beloved mistress Walburga Neuzil shook the art world in ways that the Austrian painter could never have imagined. This earthquake had almost nothing to do with the quality of the painting, “Portrait of Wally,” and everything to do with the sinister intersection of the sometimes shadowy world of art dealers and the black hole that was the Shoah.

Egon Schiele’s “Portrait of Wally” is focus of a new documentary at the Quad Cinema.

One Hungarian Town’s Lost Jews

There Was Once’ is an unusually effective and moving Holocaust documentary.
09/19/2011 - 20:00
Special to the Jewish Week

Eva Gregory recalls the moment when she realized that her family was in great peril. Then a young girl, she had accidentally dropped and shattered an entire set of expensive china. Horrified at what she had done, she braced for her mother’s explosion, but all her mother said was, “It’s all right. This doesn’t matter anymore.” Gregory, now an elderly woman, says, “That’s when I realized how bad the situation was.”

The elementary school in Kalosca, Hungary, in 1942.
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