Advertisement

“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”: What’s the Allure?

by Elliot B. Gertel   THE CW NETWORK’S Crazy Ex-Girlfriend began with Jewish lawyer Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom) running into her irresolute summer-camp crush, Filipino-American Josh Chan (Vincent Rodriguez III), and then leaving a high-powered New York job in order to stalk him in his home town of West Covina, California. Rebecca is obsessed and devious, […]

Read More

“Marshall” — Civil Rights and Old-Fashioned Shul Jews

by Elliot B. Gertel Discussed in this essay: Marshall, a film directed by directed by Reginald Hudlin and written by Michael and Jacob Koskoff. THE WELL-WRITTEN and finely-acted movie Marshall may have taken some liberties in depicting Thurgood Marshall (Chadwick Boseman) and Samuel Friedman (Josh Gad), the Bridgeport, Connecticut Jewish attorney who helped out with a noted […]

Read More

“Norman” — Why Trash the Jewish Community?

by Rabbi Elliot B. Gertel ALTHOUGH WELL-ACTED and creatively shot, Joseph Cedar’s Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer, is a cynical and nihilistic assault on Jewish community. The title character, Norman Oppenheimer (Richard Gere), is a lonely New York Jewish man of limited means who seeks the attention of […]

Read More

TV Time: Jewish Manhood in “Royal Pains”

by Rabbi Elliot B. Gertel ROYAL PAINS (2009-2016), though a limited summer series on the USA Network, was a noteworthy television show because of its longevity and popularity, and because of its Jewish themes, its odd take on Jewish manhood — and womanhood. (Episodes are all available through your favorite on-demand conveyor.) When we meet […]

Read More

Portrayals of Jews in Recent Films

by Elliot B. Gertel FROM LATE SUMMER to early fall, I saw four films that were short-lived in theaters but widely discussed. These movies presented different portraits of Jews — the first, very indirectly; the others, pervasively. Here are some short reviews for the curious, who may be interested in tracking down any or all […]

Read More

Deborah Lipstadt vs. David Irving

PUTTING THE LIE TO HOLOCAUST DENIAL by Elliot B. Gertel Discussed in this essay: Denial, a film directed by Mick Jackson, written by David Hare. DENIAL is an engaging, beautifully acted and finely-structured film, based on the well-publicized story of an Emory University historian, Deborah Lipstadt (Rachel Weisz), a Holocaust studies specialist, and British writer, […]

Read More

Kvetching about Judaism in “Café Society”

by Elliot B. Gertel WHILE WOODY ALLEN’S movies can be formulaic, this has rarely prevented him from telling a good story and providing interesting characters. But except for the fine cast and the enchanting luster provided by new production partner cinematographer, Vittorio Storaro, Café Society comes across simply as a checklist for many a Woody […]

Read More

A Symposium on the Jewish Future

AT ONE OF THE SITES WHERE THAT FUTURE WAS CREATED by Elliot B. Gertel THIS IS THE THIRD and (at least for now) final installment in a series I’ve done about noteworthy discussions of Jewish religion and culture found on internet videos of valuable symposia. The first installment was a look at milestones at New […]

Read More

Searching the Battle-Torn Universe for Jewish Values

INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE by Elliot B. Gertel NEVER KEEP an old space ship around for twenty years after an epic battle to save Earth from space aliens. You never know when its distress signal system will be reactivated, drawing horrible insect-like creatures from a technologically-formidable beyond, especially their ruthless, powerful queen bee leader. That is […]

Read More

The Painting of Her Beloved Aunt

by Rabbi Elliot B. Gertel JUST RELEASED on DVD, Woman in Gold, seamlessly directed by Simon Curtis and engagingly written by Alexi Kaye Campbell, is an absorbing, moving, and well-paced film about Maria Altmann, a Holocaust survivor who resolves to use every possible legal means to press the government of her native Vienna to return […]

Read More

Christopher Hitchens vs. Rabbi David Wolpe

A Cultural Milestone on the Jewish Internet by Rabbi Elliot B. Gertel AMERICAN JEWS already possess a vast internet video treasure-trove of Jewish culture and thought, whether under synagogue auspices or not. I was recently moved to explore some of the video offerings of New York’s Temple Emanu-El and discuss what they say about American […]

Read More

Mad Men’s Jews

by Rabbi Elliot B. Gertel THE ARTISTIC and engaging AMC series, Mad Men, which just ended, contrasted the closed 1960s male Protestant world of Madison (“Mad”) Avenue admen with an occasional Jewish character. Actually, the Jewish male characters were all contrasted with mysterious advertising genius Don Draper, known for his conquests of corporations and women.

Read More

Temple Emanu-El and American Jewish Culture

Forces of Preservation of Classical Reform Judaism by Rabbi Elliot B. Gertel CLICKING ONTO a recording of a religious service on the web site of New York City’s Temple Emanu-El (officially, Congregation Emanu-El of the City of New York, established in 1845) is a cultural event. In architecture, liturgy, music, and ambiance, Temple Emanu-El is […]

Read More

John Turturro’s Sensitivity to Jewish Culture

In Fading Gigolo, Turturro Accomplished What Many Jewish Directors Have Not by Rabbi Elliot B. Gertel IF I COULD SUGGEST a special Oscar category, it would be for a film director from outside the Jewish community who successfully makes movies appreciative of Jewish life and Jewish values. In such a category, the best picture would […]

Read More

On the “Red Tent” Phenomenon

by Rabbi Elliot B. Gertel EARLY IN THE CURRENT TV season, the most read “underground novel” in American Jewish life, Anita Diamant’s The Red Tent (1997), was made into a movie on the Lifetime Network. It tells the story of Dinah, the daughter of Jacob and Leah, who is briefly mentioned in the Bible as […]

Read More

The Eternal Brit

Television’s Forever Converts the Eternal Jew Into an Eternal Physician by Rabbi Elliot B. Gertel THE NEW ABC SERIES Forever, tells the story of Dr. Henry Morgan (Ioan Gruffudd), a gifted New York City medical examiner who has found himself resurrecting, naked, in water ever since his first death 200 years ago, as a doctor […]

Read More