But anyone paying attention to pop culture in 2022 saw a lot of Jewish creativity. This year saw several big, distinctly Jewish releases across multiple media, ranging from acclaimed movies to popular TV shows to theater, books and viral TikToks. And amid endless debates over who has the right to tell (and be cast in) Jewish stories, it was notable just how many of the biggest pop-culture events of the year fervently embraced Jewish identity.
Here were the biggest Jewish cultural releases of 2022:
Growing up Jewish at the movies
Two of the year’s big art-house film releases were autobiographical portrayals of their directors’ Jewish upbringings. In “The Fabelmans,” Steven Spielberg’s account of how he became a filmmaker, a teenager in 1950s America navigates a fracturing Jewish family and antisemitism at school. And in “Armageddon Time,” James Gray’s retelling of his Reagan-era childhood (with appearances from the Trumps), a Jewish family in Queens, New York tries to assimilate into the WASPy upper class — while their young son brushes aside the needs of his Black friend.
‘Tár’ and teshuvah
While the families in “The Fabelmans” and “Armageddon Time” were obviously Jewish, Cate Blanchett’s monstrous fictional conductor in “Tár” was not — which made it all the more surprising when the film not-so-subtly incorporated several Jewish themes into its story of artistic success and karmic retribution. The acclaimed drama looks to make big inroads this awards season as it gives audiences a de facto Hebrew lesson.
A ‘Rehearsal’ for living Jewishly
Gonzo comedian Nathan Fielder staged elaborate simulations of everyday life in “The Rehearsal,” a new HBO series that proved to be among the buzziest TV shows of the year — and whose late-season pivot to discussions of Jewish parenting caught just about everyone by surprise. As the Internet lit up with conversations about Miriam Eskenasy, the Hebrew tutor Fielder hired for his fake Jewish son, JTA spoke to Miriam herself about the various questions of Jewish identity explored by the show.
‘The U.S. and the Holocaust’ under a microscope
The latest Ken Burns PBS history documentary, relaying how the United States responded to the horrors of the Holocaust both on the homefront and in wartime, ignited a fierce national reckoning over America’s historic treatment of Jews and outsiders. Burns and his Jewish co-directors told JTA they hoped to communicate an important lesson to the country about antisemitism and xenophobia that could challenge America’s founding myths.
TV had Jewish conflicts, with heart
Narrative TV saw storylines about Jews clashing with each other and bonding with unexpected allies. FX/Hulu’s thriller “The Patient” dug into an inter-family divide between Reform parents and Orthodox children, even as the show weathered criticism for its casting of non-Jew Steve Carell as a Jewish therapist. Another Hulu show, Ramy Youssef’s “Ramy,” entered its third season with a storyline set in Israel and an Orthodox Jewish supporting character — notable for a series that focuses on a Muslim American protagonist.
A Nazi gold train on ‘Russian Doll’
Natasha Lyonne’s time-hopping Netflix series returned for a second season this year, reaching deep into the past to find Lyonne’s protagonist Nadia unearthing generations of Jewish trauma in her family. It all culminated with her exploration of a Hungarian “gold train” filled with treasures the Nazis supposedly looted from the country’s Jews during wartime. Lyonne was drawing on real-life Holocaust history for the plot, suggesting that Jewish inherited trauma remains with us to this day.
‘And Just Like That,’ some uncomfortable Jewish jokes
HBO’s “Sex and the City” follow-up was largely viewed by fans of the original as a fascinating trainwreck. Jewish viewers saw something else: a throughline of bizarre Jewish jokes, from a midseason flirtation with a Holocaust denier to a season-finale “They Mitzvah” that ultimately didn’t happen.
‘Funny Girl,’ serious cast conflicts
A classically Jewish Broadway show became the centerpiece of the year’s messiest backstage drama. “Funny Girl,” the hotly anticipated revival of the biographical musical about Jewish comedian Fanny Brice that initially launched the career of Barbra Streisand, debuted in spring to sky-high expectations. Lead Beanie Feldstein told JTA that taking on the role of Brice was “incredibly meaningful for me as a Jewish woman.” But following poor reviews and ticket sales, Feldstein exited with gusto — and was replaced by Lea Michele, the “Glee” star with Jewish ancestry who’d spent much of her career openly pining for the role of Fanny.
Tom Stoppard’s ‘Leopoldstadt’ puts the Shoah on stage
While Tom Stoppard would make just about anybody’s shortlist of the world’s most influential playwrights, he had never before explored his Jewish background onstage — until this play. Stoppard’s sprawling new historical drama, featuring a massive cast depicting several generations of Austrian Jews before and after the Holocaust, was Broadway’s most hotly debated play this year — and, he told JTA, its themes of assimilation and lost Jewish histories are ideas he found to be rich and poignant.
Non-Jewish authors explore Jewish legacies
Two seismic novels this year dealt in controversial ways with traumatic Jewish history, both written by European non-Jews. The Polish Nobel laureate Olga Tokarchuk delivered the English translation of “The Books of Jacob,” a 1,000-page doorstopper steeped in the tale of false messiah Jacob Frank, while Irish author John Boyne delivered “All The Broken Places,” a sequel to his infamous Holocaust fable “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” — as he defended the first against charges that it was implausible and tone deaf.
Jewish comedians stuck out their shtick
Stand-up comedy could be a scary place for Jews this year — see the aforementioned Dave Chappelle controversy. But a new generation of Jewish jokers still found ways to assert themselves, whether it was Ariel Elias parlaying a confrontation with a heckler into a very Jewish “Jimmy Kimmel Live” set or Ari Shaffir’s YouTube special about leaving Judaism, but not his Jewishness, behind. The New York Jewish Week was among the sponsors of a “Chosen Comedy Festival” that drew 4,000 people to Coney Island for a night of unapologetically Jewish standup by the likes of Modi, Jessica Kirson and Elon Gold. Meanwhile, British Jewish comic David Baddiel opened up a giant can of worms by playing it straight with his TV documentary “Jews Don’t Count,” based on his book about the ways he believes progressive circles have disregarded the scourge of antisemitism.
The Miami Boys Choir lit up the Internet
If you recently found yourself moved to tears by clips of Orthodox boys singing harmonized Hebrew pop songs on TikTok, you weren’t alone. The Miami Boys Choir became a breakout viral sensation this fall, with millions of newly minted fans celebrating their besuited swagger — and a few of the group’s alums getting in on the fun, too. MBC’s success was welcomed by Orthodox Jews in every corner of the Internet, who often feel sidelined or misrepresented by their depictions in popular culture.
A new Museum of Broadway is a Jewish hall of fame
Delayed by COVID, the Museum of Broadway finally opened in the heart of New York’s Theater District. And while it doesn’t go out of its way to center the Jewish contributions to the Great White Way, the work of Jewish composers, lyricists, playwrights, producers and choreographers is everywhere, from exhibits dedicated to Rodgers and Hammerstein and Stephen Sondheim to tributes to Mel Brooks, Tony Kushner and the late, great cartoonist Al Hirschfeld.
Other Jewish stories from 2022 now available to stream:
13: The Musical (Netflix)
Ahed’s Knee (VOD rental)
The Calling (Peacock)
Cha Cha Real Smooth (Apple TV+)
Heirs to the Land (Netflix)
Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song (VOD rental)
Idina Menzel: Which Way to the Stage (Disney+)
Image of Victory (Netflix)
Jackass Forever (Paramount+)
Last Flight Home (Paramount+)
Ridley Road (PBS)
Yosi, the Regretful Spy (Amazon Prime)
The post 2022 was a big year for Jews in the arts. Here’s what happened on screen and stage. appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
Phyllis Pollock died at home Sunday September 3, 2023 in Winnipeg, after a courageous lifetime battle with cancer.
Phyllis was a mother of four: Gary (Laura), daughter Randi, Steven (deceased in 2010) (Karen), and Robert. Phyllis also had two grandchildren: Lauren and Quinn.
Born in Fort Frances, Ontario on February 7, 1939, Phyllis was an only child to Ruby and Alex Lerman. After graduating high school, Phyllis moved to Winnipeg where she married and later divorced Danny Pollock, the father of her children. She moved to Beverly Hills in 1971, where she raised her children.
Phyllis had a busy social life and lucrative real estate career that spanned over 50 years, including new home sales with CoastCo. Phyllis was the original sales agent for three buildings in Santa Monica, oceanfront: Sea Colony I, Sea Colony II, and Sea Colony. She was known as the Sea Colony Queen. She worked side by side with her daughter Randi for about 25 years – handling over 600 transactions, including sales and leases within the three phases of Sea Colony alone.
Phyllis had more energy than most people half her age. She loved entertaining, working in the real estate field, meeting new and interesting people everyday no matter where she went, and thrived on making new lifelong friends. Phyllis eventually moved to the Sea Colony in Santa Monica where she lived for many years before moving to Palm Desert, then Winnipeg.
After battling breast cancer four times in approximately 20 years, she developed metastatic Stage 4 lung cancer. Her long-time domestic partner of 27 years, Joseph Wilder, K.C., was the love of her life. They were never far apart. They traveled the world and went on many adventures during their relationship. During her treatment, Phyllis would say how much she missed work and seeing her clients. Joey demonstrated amazing strength, love, care, and compassion for Phyllis as her condition progressed. He was her rock and was by her side 24/7, making sure she had the best possible care. Joey’s son David was always there to support Phyllis and to make her smile. Joey’s other children, Sheri, Kenny, Joshua and wife Davina, were also a part of her life. His kids would Facetime Phyllis and include her during any of their important functions. Phyllis loved Joey’s children as if they were her own.
Thank you to all of her friends and family who were there to support her during these difficult times. Phyllis is now, finally, pain free and in a better place. She was loved dearly and will be greatly missed. Interment took place in Los Angeles.
Gwen Centre Creative Living Centre celebrates 35th anniversary
By BERNIE BELLAN Over 100 individuals gathered at the Gwen Secter Centre on Tuesday evening, July 18 – under the big top that serves as the venue for the summer series of outdoor concerts that is now in its third year at the centre.
The occasion was the celebration of the Gwen Secter Centre’s 35th anniversary. It was also an opportunity to honour the memory of Sophie Shinewald, who passed away at the age of 106 in 2019, but who, as recently as 2018, was still a regular attendee at the Gwen Secter Centre.
As Gwen Secter Executive Director Becky Chisick noted in her remarks to the audience, Sophie had been volunteering at the Gwen Secter Centre for years – answering the phone among other duties. Becky remarked that Sophie’s son, Ed Shinewald, had the phone number for the Gwen Secter Centre stored in his phone as “Mum’s work.”
Remarks were also delivered by Raquel Dancho, Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St. Paul, who was the only representative of any level of government in attendance. (How times have changed: I remember well the steadfast support the former Member of the Legislature for St. John’s, Gord Mackintosh, showed the Gwen Secter Centre when it was perilously close to being closed down. And, of course, for years, the area in which the Gwen Secter Centre is situated was represented by the late Saul Cherniack.)
Sophie Shinewald’s granddaughter, Alix (who flew in from Chicago), represented the Shinewald family at the event. (Her brother, Benjamin, who lives in Ottawa, wasn’t able to attend, but he sent a pre-recorded audio message that was played for the audience.)
Musical entertainment for the evening was provided by a group of talented singers, led by Julia Kroft. Following the concert, attendees headed inside to partake of a sumptuous assortment of pastries, all prepared by the Gwen Secter culinary staff. (And, despite my asking whether I could take a doggy bag home, I was turned down.)
Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station
This is a developing story.
(JTA) — Palestinian gunmen killed four people and wounded four in a terror attack at a gas station near the West Bank settlement of Eli, the Israeli army reported.
An Israeli civilian returning fire at the scene of the attack on Tuesday killed one of the attackers, who emerged from a vehicle, and two others fled.
Kan, Israel’s public broadcaster, said one of those wounded was in serious condition. The gunmen, while in the vehicle, shot at a guard post at the entry to the settlement, and then continued to the gas station which is also the site of a snack bar. A nearby yeshiva went into lockdown.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced plans to convene a briefing with top security officials within hours of the attack. Kan reported that there were celebrations of the killing in major West Bank cities and in the Gaza Strip, initiated by terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Hamas said the shooting attack Tuesday was triggered by the Jenin raid.
The shooting comes as tensions intensify in the West Bank. A day earlier, Israeli troops raiding the city of Jenin to arrest accused terrorists killed five people.
The Biden administration spoke out over the weekend against Israel’s plans to build 4,000 new housing units for Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also finalized plans to transfer West Bank building decisions to Bezalel Smotrich, the extremist who is the finance minister. Smotrich has said he wants to limit Palestinian building and expand settlement building.
Kan reported that the dead terrorist was a resident of a village, Urif, close to Huwara, the Palestinian town where terrorists killed two Israeli brothers driving through in February. Settlers retaliated by raiding the village and burning cars and buildings.
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