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Fourth Dispatch from the Jerusalem Film Festival

Jul21

by: Olga Gershenson on July 21st, 2017 | No Comments »

Fourth set of notes from the Jerusalem Film Festival from Tikkun’s correspondent Olga Gershenson!

“The Man with the Iron Heart”–a historical drama about Reinhard Heydrich, his rise to power, and his eventual death by the hand of the resistance in Prague. It’s an international co-production (directed by a French filmmaker, Cedric Jimenez), and as such is suffering from the usual problem of WWII films: all the dialogue is in English, with Germans speaking with hysterical German accents and Czechs with a faux Slavic one. The filming of the Nazi parades and such is a bit fetishistic, reeling in all these crisp uniform and colorful insignia. Finally, and that’s the main problem, how do you make a movie about an architect of the Final Solution, and make it NOT about the Jews? In a two-hour-film, the Jewish question is mentioned literally once, in a brief scene set at the Villa Wannsee meeting. No Jews appear in the Kristallnacht massacres. Even in the scenes of mass executions by Einsatzgruppen, the identity of the victims is not marked in any way. It appears that the Nazis just shot all these innocent Czechs and Poles. Alternatively, there are tons of Christian symbolism–the crosses, the prayer, the churchy music. The two resistance fighters who fatally wounded Heydrich, die in a flooded church, martyrs in a kind of eternal baptism. One of the last shots of the film is a floating rosary with a cross.

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Third Dispatch from the Jerusalem Film Festival

Jul20

by: Olga Gershenson on July 20th, 2017 | No Comments »

Third set of notes from the Jerusalem Film Festival from Tikkun’s correspondent Olga Gershenson!

 

Three films for today: first “The Cakemaker”–from the first-time Israeli director Ofir Raul Grazier, starring an incomparable Sara Adler. Here is the story: an Israeli businessman Oren has an affair with a German baker on his frequent trips to Berlin. After he dies, the German is distraught; he comes to Jerusalem, and has an affair with Oren’s wife! The German-Israeli love affair across gender, religious, and sexuality boundaries is reminiscent of “Walk on Water,” but with a lot more food porn (specifically pastry) and even more schmaltzy, if that is possible. On the other hand, the performances are brilliant and the filming of Jerusalem rises to the level of visual poetry.

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Addendum to Privilege, Responsibility, and Nonviolence

Jul20

by: on July 20th, 2017 | No Comments »

After posting my recent post, I received a comment that completely surprised me, in which I was challenged about what I thought was the opposite of what I said. Given what was written in the comment, I believe it was a person of color writing it. Given my overall commitments, including the ones I wrote about in that piece, it was vitally important for me to take the comment seriously as important feedback. This meant focusing on what I may have done to contribute to the misunderstanding rather than on trying to explain myself.

In reflecting, and in further conversation with a colleague, it didn’t take much to recognize what it might have been. What I discovered is three things I didn’t say rather than specific things that I said. Because of these omissions, my piece ended up vulnerable to being interpreted through the lens of shifting blame to the marginalized. The purpose of this piece is to make explicit what was left unsaid before.

Naming the Audience

The first was a very major slip; something I intended to add to the piece and was still thinking about where to add it most effectively, and then I forgot to close that loop and sent it off for publication without it. I am deeply chagrined about this slip, and want to correct it now.

It’s the failure to name the audience.

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Second Dispatch from the Jerusalem Film Festival

Jul19

by: Olga Gershenson on July 19th, 2017 | No Comments »

​More notes from the JerusalemFilm Festival from Tikkun’s correspondent Olga Gershenson!

 

A documentary “Gaza Surf Club“–exactly what it sounds like–a quixotic group of surfing enthusiasts in Gaza, struggling against the double burden of occupation and patriarchy (girls are not allowed to surf or even swim). The human story is very touching, but the film-making is too predictable. And then, a real revelation, “Holy Air” by writer/director Shady Srour, and starring Latitia Eido. Absurdist comedy set in Nazareth, and very clearly paying tribute to Elia Suleiman’s sense of irony. Beautiful, nuanced, funny, straddling the lines between issues at stake for Palestinians, citizens of Israel, and universal issues of love, loss, sex, and faith. The cinematography is such that I could freeze any frame and put it on the wall. What is it with Nazareth and filmmakers? One is better than another.

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First Dispatch from the Jerusalem Film Festival

Jul17

by: Olga Gershenson on July 17th, 2017 | No Comments »

We at Tikkun have the good fortune to have U Mass Amherst professor of Film Studies and Jewish Studies Olga Gershenson reporting for us on the Jerusalem Film Festival. These are short snippets that give our readers some feel for what is being presented in Israel at the moment. We hope to have a longer analytic piece from her about the Jerusalem Film Festival in the Winter or Spring 2018 issue of the print magazine (which, as you probably know, is quite different from what we print on Tikkun Daily (which is not edited) or on our website wwww.tikkun.org (where the articles tend to be more focused on immediate realities, since the print magazine has a large gap from the time we get the articles edited till the time it is printed by Duke U Press, and hence has more articles about subjects that will still be relevant a half year later). Below is the first such report from Professor Gershenson:​

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Privilege, Responsibility, and Nonviolence

Jul15

by: on July 15th, 2017 | 1 Comment »

When I first heard Marshall Rosenberg, back in 1994, say that the actions of another person are a stimulus, and never a cause, for my feelings, I was shocked. Little did I know that this statement would become the nucleus of my growing understanding about what has come to be called self-responsibility in the community of practice that I belong to: those who have chosen to adopt Nonviolent Communication (NVC) as a core organizing principle of our lives and work. This is a spiritual practice that is surprisingly demanding in moments when it’s so tempting to think that I am having the experience I am having, or that I am doing what I doing, because of what someone else is doing or some other force that is outside me. Locating the source of my inner experience and my choices within me has been the most difficult and most liberating aspect of my practice.

Equally liberating, and far less comfortable, has been the twin practice of taking responsibility for my actions and choices and their effects within an interdependent world. The juxtaposition of the two conjures up mystery: my actions, however harmful they may be, don’t cause the feelings of another, nor are their feelings unrelated to my actions. The nature of the relationship is elusive and complex, as all interdependence is. When you add power differences to the mix, responsibility, all around, becomes an achievement few of us can step into fully, without blame of self or other. Teasing apart this complexity is one of the ways I aim to use whatever privilege I have in the world in service of transforming the structures and effects of privilege.

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Review of THE FIX by Sharon Leder

Jul14

by: Gail F. Melson on July 14th, 2017 | 1 Comment »

The opioid epidemic rages all around us. Its fires, far from abating, are feeding on themselves. For the first time, overdoses from heroin, fentanyl, oxycodone and other opioids exceed deaths from motor vehicle accidents. In 2015, over 52,000 people died from opioid overdoes in the U. S. No corner, no community is immune. The epidemic has spread through cities into suburbs and has ravaged rural areas. No demographic is spared.

The ravages of heroin and other opioids are nothing new. In the 1940′s and 50′s, they swept through urban New York, from the jazz clubs of Harlem to boho Greenwich Village to Westchester suburbs. For a young man eager to break out of the stifling confines of Jewish immigrant life, the “cool” Manhattan clubs were like a refreshing shower, washing away anti-semitic taunts, money troubles, family conflicts. The drugs were part of, maybe the essence of, cool. They fused with the jazz, the smoky dark interiors, the nodding knowingness of a beckoning life.

This is how Sara, the young protagonist of Sharon Leder’s debut novel,The Fix: A Father’s Secrets, A Daughter’s Search(KiCam Projects, 2017) imagines the beginning of her father Joseph’s twenty-five year struggle with heroin addiction.

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Blessing the World and All Its Inhabitants

Jul13

by: Charles Burack on July 13th, 2017 | No Comments »

In Biblical times the Israelite priests came from the tribe of Levi.  Today their descendants, the Cohanim, continue to bless their congregations with the priestly benediction: “May the Eternal One bless you and keep you!  May the Eternal One shine Its face upon you and grace you!  May the Eternal One lift up Its face upon you and grant you peace!”

Now imagine what life would be like if this sacred duty of blessing was no longer limited to the Cohanim.  Imagine what would happen if, beginning today, every human being resolved to take on this holy responsibility and expand its scope and purpose.  Rather than being confined to blessing a particular congregation, community, or people, this sacred benediction would encompass the entire world and all its inhabitants.

Imagine what a difference it would make to both the blessers and the world if, every day, every human being on this planet sent out blessings to all beings.  Surely, this would promote love, peace, and harmony.  Surely, this would curb hatred, violence, and conflict.  Surely, this would promote the well-being of Earth and Universe.

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The Psychology of Disrespect

Jul10

by: Ron Seigel on July 10th, 2017 | 2 Comments »

Rabbi Michael Lerner has noted people “hunger for communities of meaning that can transcend the individualism and selfishness that we see around us and that will provide an ethical and spiritual framework that gives our lives some higher purpose.”

A major obstacle to the existence of such communities is a psychological one, a widespread lack of respect.

In my decades of work as a journalist, a social change activist, who has been helpful in making some social changes, and an advocate for people’s rights, who had some acquaintance with officials and bureaucrats involved in denying them their rights, I have witnessed in many areas a shocking lack of respect.

Social researchers have uncovered one important reason why. Many individuals have a profound insecurity about whether they themselves are respected.

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Words, Harm, Blame, and Splintering

Jul10

by: Wade Hudson on July 10th, 2017 | 2 Comments »

[Jesus] recognized with authentic realism that anyone who permits another to determine the quality of his inner life gives into the hands of the other the key to his destiny. If a man knows precisely what he can do to you or what epithet he can hurl against you in order to make you lose your temper, your equilibrium, then he can always keep you under subjection.

Jesus and the Disinherited, Howard Thurman

Cruel words can trigger hurt feelings and anger. Individuals who speak those words need to be held accountable and we need to reduce their frequency. But a compassionate response avoids blaming only the speaker. Listeners share responsibility for their reactions, and social conditioning and other factors contribute as well.

The Dalai Lama said:

You have to think: Why did this happen? This person is not your enemy from birth…. You see that this person’s actions are due to their own destructive emotions. You can develop a sense of concern, compassion, even feel sorry for their pain and suffering.

Words do not directly cause harm like a hammer causes pain when it hits my thumb. Cause and effect is a linear dynamic; emotions are immersed in a holistic system. Words contribute to hurt feelings, but how I process what others say is another factor. I am partly responsible for how I respond. I can learn how to react differently.

So I no longer tell people, “You hurt me.” That phrase shifts all responsibility onto the speaker.

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