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Helena Bonham Carter Says She Was ‘Born to Play’ Role in Film About Holocaust Rescuer Nicholas Winton

British actress Helena Bonham Carter speaking with a Jewish woman whose family escaped Czechoslovakia with the help of the actress’ grandmother, Violet Bonham Carter. Photo: Screenshot/”My Grandparents’ War.”

Actress Helena Bonham Carter said in a new interview that, because of her Jewish heritage, she felt she was destined to play her role in the new film One Life, which is about British stockbroker Sir Nicholas Winton and his efforts to save 669 Jewish children from the Nazis before the outbreak of World War II.

In the BBC Films and See-Saw Films production, Bonham Carter plays Winton’s German-Jewish mother, Babette “Babi” Wertheim. Two-time Oscar winner Anthony Hopkins and Johnny Flynn both play Winton at different ages, and the cast also includes Jonathan Pryce, Lena Olin, Romola Garai, and Alex Sharp.

“It was in my DNA to play this role because I come from Austrian Jewish heritage,” Bonham Carter told Britain’s Jewish News. “And on top of that, on both sides, both my grandparents helped a lot of Jewish people with visas to get out of Nazi Europe.”

Bonham Carter discovered in 2021 that her maternal Jewish grandfather, Eduardo Propper de Callejon, was a Spanish diplomat who defied government orders to help save thousands of French Jews during the Holocaust and that her British paternal grandmother, Lady Violet Bonham Carter, was a politician and volunteer air raid warden who helped Jews from around Europe find refuge in Britain. The latter also sponsored a family from Prague who had escaped Nazi persecution.

Bonham Carter said the role of Babette in One Life “resonated on a different level” because of her Jewish background.

“My great grandmother was Austrian. So most people in my family will recognize my great granny who just popped up when I put on the accent and the clothes. So in a way, she just came to life,” explained the BAFTA-award winning actress. “So there was a lot of overlap with my actual history. I felt when asked to do it that it was in the stars. I was compelled to do it.”

Bonham Carter also said she “loved the idea of being able to say I was Anthony Hopkins’ mom.”

Winton organized a rescue mission that brought approximately 669 children, mostly Jewish, safely from Czechoslovakia to Britain, in an effort later known as the Kindertransport. He raised money to fund the transports and also found British foster families to care for the children. He did not publicize his heroic efforts, even after the war, but they were brought to light in 1988 during an episode of the television program That’s Life. Winton, who was nicknamed “British Schindler” after German Holocaust rescuer Oscar Schindler, died in 2015 at the age of 106.

Bonham Carter told Jewish News that One Life could be “hugely educational” in terms of teaching audiences about the Holocaust.

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Tribute: Rabbi Dovid Schochet, 91, a pioneer in building Toronto’s observant community

The Jewish community in Toronto lost a towering leader when Rabbi Dovid Schochet, the president of the Toronto Rabbinical Council and the senior rabbi of the Chabad community in Toronto, passed away at the age of 91 on Jan. 28. He was born in 1932 in Basel, Switzerland, the second of 10 children, to Rabbi […]

The post Tribute: Rabbi Dovid Schochet, 91, a pioneer in building Toronto’s observant community appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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Attacker in 2021 Antisemitic Assault in New York Sentenced to Three Years in State Prison

Joseph Borgen, victim of an antisemitic attack, addressing a rally in Long Island. Photo: courtesy

The final criminal proceeding for the case of Joseph “Joey” Borgen, a Jewish man whom a gang of antisemites mauled and pepper-sprayed in broad daylight during protests and counter-protests over Israel’s 2021 war with Hamas, resulted in another conviction Wednesday.

Mohammed Said Othman, 29, was sentenced to three years in state prison, according to a press release issued by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg.

Borgen, who is Jewish, was wearing a kippah while walking in Manhattan when Said Othman, along with several other men, ambushed him without being provoked. They shouted antisemitic slurs at the pro-Israel advocate, who suffered a concussion, wrist injury, black eye, and bruises all over his body.

Since then, three other sentences have been handed down in the Borgen case. Waseem Awawdeh, who continuously struck Borgen with a crutch while allegedly joining the others in shouting antisemitic epithets at him, pleaded guilty to attempted assault as a hate crime and received 18 months in jail, as part of a plea bargain negotiated with Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Jonathon Junig.

In November, Mahmoud Musa received seven years in prison for his role in the attack. In December, Mohammed Othman was sentenced to five-and-a-half years in state prison and five additional years of post-release supervision.

As seen in footage of the incident, Othman kicked and repeatedly struck Borgen in the face while sitting on his chest to weigh him down. In court, he pleaded guilty to gang assault and third-degree hate crime assault.

“These defendants violently targeted and assaulted another individual simply because he is Jewish,” District Attorney Bragg said in a statement. “While this office always supports the right to peacefully protest and engage in open dialogue, these multi-year prison sentences makes clear that physically attacking someone because of their religion is never acceptable. I thank our hate crimes unit for its diligent work in this case.”

Throughout the criminal proceedings in his case, Joey Borgen called on New York City lawmakers to do more to eradicate antisemitic hatred in the five boroughs.

In December, he told The Algemeiner that while he is pleased with the outcome of the case he is worried that the group with which his attackers were allegedly affiliated, the extreme anti-Zionist organization Within Our Lifetime (WOL), is still engaging in antisemitic activity that could lead to more hate crimes.

Since Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel, WOL has posted (and deleted) a map, titled “Know Your Enemies,” showing the addresses of Jewish organizations in New York City, and staged numerous disruptive protests. The group is led by Nerdeen Kiswani, a former City University of New York (CUNY) student who once threatened to set on fire someone’s Israel Defense Forces (IDF) hoodie while he was wearing it.

“They’re still causing havoc; they’re forcing Jewish attendees of a fundraiser to speak at the backdoor of a police van, and they’re bombarding the mother of a hostage with horrible antisemitic chants,” Borgen said. “While I’m happy that I got a positive result in my case, I’m still disturbed that this same group is still going around causing issues for Jewish people, attacking restaurants, and putting people in danger.”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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See Mark Breslin live in conversation with Ralph Benmergui

A special live taping of our podcast ‘Not That Kind of Rabbi’.

The post See Mark Breslin live in conversation with Ralph Benmergui appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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