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When Irish artist Diana Muller first presented her works in progress—portrait paintings of some of her country’s few remaining Holocaust survivors—to the Irish Jewish Museum in Dublin City, museum vice chair Yvonne Altman O’Connor sensed a teachable moment in the making. “We consider it very important to teach about the Holocaust, especially as Irish people were somewhat removed from the experience. [Some even] refer to World War II as ‘the emergency,’” an obvious understatement, O’Connor tells JNS.org. Muller suggested that the museum host a temporary exhibit. Three years after beginning the project, her artwork was unveiled on April 12 at the Irish Jewish Museum as part of a Yom HaShoah event.
With the recent Oscars in the rearview mirror, Hollywood’s attention shifts to the rest of this year’s big-screen lineup. Two major action films coming up in 2015—“Avengers: Age of Ultron,” which hits theaters in May, and the third film in the “Fantastic Four” series, slated for an August release—have Jewish roots that the average moviegoer might be unaware of. As it turns out, it took a tough Jewish kid from New York City’s Lower East Side to create the superheroes in “Fantastic Four” and “Captain America.” (The “Captain America” protagonist appears in “The Avengers.”) Born Jacob Kurtzberg to Austrian Jewish immigrants, Jack Kirby became an iconic American comic book artist and writer. But his road to the throne of comics wasn’t an easy one. Experts reflect on Kirby's legacy, and on how his Jewish background influenced his work, in interviews with JNS.org.
What is a Jewish film? In 2011, Tablet Magazine topped its "100 Greatest Jewish Films" list with the surprising choice of “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” the story of the little alien who made Cindy Sher fall in love with movies in the first place. According to Tablet, the “E.T.” themes of home, love, family, friendship, and enchantment make it a beautiful choice for the quintessential Jewish movie. Any film professor worth her salt would find it great food for thought to think about what makes a film Jewish or even what makes a decent film in general, but the joy of movies doesn’t have to be proven like a mathematical equation, writes Sher, the executive editor of Chicago’s JUF News.
Theater directors across the country condemned Ari Roth’s ouster as artistic director of the Washington DC Jewish Community Center’s Theater J, calling the move a blow against freedom of expression. In fact, Roth's chronic productions of anti-Israel boilerplate amounted to personal license. Theater J is now free to be broadly creative—and representative—in Jewish-themed programs, writes Eric Rozenman, Washington director of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA).
Hollywood has had its share of big-budget biblical flops, but until now, the Exodus narrative has not been among them. Studios have brought Moses to the big screen sparingly, but in ways that defined the image and character of Moses for each generation of audiences. Marshall Weiss recaps nine decades of Moses at the movies, including the most recent iteration—Christian Bale in the newly released “Exodus: Gods and Kings.”
In “Exodus: Gods and Kings,” Ridley Scott’s attempt to reinvent the biblical narrative becomes laughable, namely an awkward experiment with trying to rationalize supernatural events like the Ten Plagues and the parting of the Red Sea. “Exodus” is a competent film with epic intentions and scale, but doesn’t live up to its potential, writes reviewer Jason Stack.