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The Last of the Unjust Claude Lanzmann and Benjamin Murmelstein (right) in Rome, The Last of the Unjust (2013), documentary film by Lanzmann, courtesy Synecdoche & Le Pacte Films The horror…the horror does not dissipate even after 69 years.  Benjamin Murmelstein was the last “Elder of…
Defiance Liev Schreiber as Zus Bielski and Daniel Craig as Tuvia Bielski, courtesy Paramount Vantage Pictures When God hides His face, it seems Jews are on their own. Defiance, the story of the Jewish partisan combat group headed by the Bielski brothers in the new movie by…
Here I Learned to Love Avner Kerem, still from 2011 documentary: Here I Learned to Love, a film by Avi Angel, Distributed by Ruth Diskin Films What is your earliest memory? Itzik Weinberg’s earliest memory may be of him and his younger brother, Avner, fleeing the…
A Serious Man Something serious is going on here… The movie opens with Rashi’s comment on Deuteronomy 18:13: You shall be wholehearted with the Lord your God. Rashi explains that we must “Receive with simplicity everything that happens to you.”
A Play by Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer When we peer back through the millennia whom do we see?  Two women standing at the very beginning of our history, Sarah and Hagar.  Sarah conspired to overcome her barrenness and provide Abraham with an heir through her maidservant Hagar.…
Way to Heaven by Juan Mayorga An unshaven man stumbles on stage, clad in a raincoat covering his pajamas.  He is barefoot and shuffles among the dried leaves that litter the stage area, a long rectangle set between the audience on either side.  It is…
A Movie by Jean-Marie Straub & Daniele Huillet (1975) How can the artist presume to make art when every stroke, every effort at creating an intelligible and beautiful object, might be construed as an affront to the wholeness and perfection of God and His handiwork. …
Feinsmith Quartet at Merkin Concert Hall Daniel David Feinsmith To encounter God is an elemental quest of mankind.  And yet for Jews it is paradoxically impossible and immediate.  In any physical sense we know that “…no human can see My face and live” (Exodus 33:20) even…
Yet Another Test: Ushpizin, the Movie “And God tested Abraham...” It seems that He hasn't stopped testing the Jewish people ever since. Abraham already had nine trials to boast of, Isaac was sorely tested in choosing between his two sons and Jacob stoically withstood the…
Everything Is Illuminated Everything Is Illuminated, a new movie directed by Liev Schreiber opening September 16th, is a deeply moving and highly engaging film based on a curiously flawed premise. The notion that if we can but understand our past somehow our present will become…
Lost Objects Found As one enters the theater the stage is dominated by three levels of scaffolding filling the entire proscenium behind a gray scrim. Plunged into darkness as the lights go down a single face is illuminated on the stage by a bolt of…
Desecration or Sanctification Ferruccio Furlanetto as Cardinal Brogni, Neil Shicoff as Eleazar, and Soile Isokoski as Rachel in Halevy's La Juive The curtain rises to reveal a towering wall of translucent glass behind which the chorus sings “Te deum laudamus, You are God, we praise you,”…

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