About Jewish Film

I love the movies, and I believe they are a great way to explore Jewish experiences, issues, and values.  I’ve set up this blog as a resource for Introduction to the Jewish Experience, a class at Lehrhaus Judaica in Berkeley, CA, but I hope that it will also be useful to other teachers and learners.  My entries are not reviews, but rather a rabbinic commentary on the Jewish “text” that the film represents.

How did I choose the films in this list?  I started with the definition Kathryn Bernheimer gave in her book,  The 50 Greatest Jewish Movies: A Critic’s Ranking of the Very Best: “a film that examines an aspect of the Jewish experience and features at least one clearly defined Jewish central character.”  Since then, I’ve broadened my definition a bit to include films that have had an impact on perceptions about Jews or Judaism in the wider culture.  Inclusion does not necessarily mean that I recommend a film; in fact, some films have been included precisely because they are popular but misleading. A few of them are bad films, or have destructive messages: I think it’s important to talk about them, too.

I am gradually getting around to watching all the films on the list.  I don’t write the commentary on the basis of my memory of a film; I watch it and then write.  That’s why some films are listed but not yet commented upon.  In a few cases I have linked films to  the article The Top 10 Interfaith Films by the film reviewer and critic Michael Fox.  I do not necessarily agree with him on every detail, but his account of those films will give you some Jewish thinking on those films.

Some films I would like to include, but haven’t, because they are too difficult to obtain on Region 1 DVD.  Everything listed here is available either for purchase online or on loan from Blockbuster or Netflix.  If you know of a film that I should include but haven’t, perhaps because it has only recently become available, please let me know by leaving a comment.

I have already learned about films I should include from people who took the time to leave comments on the blog.  If there is something I haven’t included, or something about which you disagree, I hope that you will join the conversation!

— Rabbi Adar


5 responses to “About Jewish Film

  1. Dear Rabbi Adar,
    Shana Tova.
    I would like to invite you to visit my recently launched web site
    It is an online cinema with Jewish movies from around the world.
    Please send me an email and I will return you a coupon for watching free movies.
    David Silberman

  2. I was wondering what is the definition of Jewish films?
    if you are intrested in israeli film, you can visit:

    • For my purposes on this blog, “Jewish Films” are films with Jewish content. That might include a story line, a main character, or a theme. Certainly many Israeli films fall into this category, and I look forward to checking out your website. Thanks for the link!

      — Rabbi Adar

  3. Can you recommend films for children age 8-10 years old on Jewish themes, Israel, Bible, Biblical characters?

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