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

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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
    thejewishcinema.com
    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.
    Yours,
    David Silberman

  2. I was wondering what is the definition of Jewish films?
    if you are intrested in israeli film, you can visit:
    http://www.go2films.com

    • 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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