Promoted during the Israeli Film Festival of Philadelphia, the film The Wedding Plan finally opened for American audiences, after having received three Ophir Awards, or Israeli Oscars. In Hebrew with English subtitles, the film was written and directed by Rama Burshtein, an Orthodox Israeli, and the creator of the award-winning 2012 film Fill the Void.
In “The Wedding Plan,” protagonist Michal is a 32-year-old religiously observant woman, who runs a mobile petting zoo. Excitedly planning for her upcoming wedding, she is shocked when her fiancé reluctantly admits that he doesn’t love her. Nevertheless, she decides to move forward with her wedding preparations, trusting that if God wants her to be married, He will find a husband for her. The wedding is scheduled for the last night of Hanukkah, leaving exactly one month for a new groom to materialize. Her family is doubtful, and even her rabbi wonders what will happen to Michal’s faith if she doesn’t find a groom under the chuppah.
An American director would have made this film into a romantic comedy, but Burshtein aimed for something deeper, more poignant. Her debut film, “Fill the Void,” is about a religious woman who must make a decision about whether or not to marry her late sister’s husband. Burshtein writes and directs stories set in the religious Jewish world, but which illuminate human emotions common to us all.
The film In Search of Israeli Cuisine, featuring Chef Michael Solomonov, is being screened from March 31 to April 6 at the Ritz 5 in Philadelphia. In light of this special screening, we offer the following review of the film, written by Philadelphia Jewish Voice contributor Hannah Lee. This review was originally posted on Lee’s blog, A Cultural Mix, in March 2016, and also includes an overview of the post-film discussion. [Read more…]
If you think your Passover Seder is missing that magic touch, perhaps Harry Potter and his friends can help you out. Moshe Rosenberg, author of Morality for Muggles: Ethics in the Bible and the World of Harry Potter, recently published his latest Jewish-Potter hybrid project, The (Unofficial) Hogwarts Haggadah.
For the kids (and let’s be honest, adults), who are fast asleep before you can finally eat at the Seder, The (Unofficial) Hogwarts Haggadah will be the spell that breaks the boredom curse. First, the Haggadah itself is aesthetically pleasing with Harry Potter and Passover illustrations, designed by Aviva Shur, that will keep the wondering eye on the page. In regards to the text, the Haggadah has a traditional layout so it can be used in lieu of your non-wizard copy. Rosenberg periodically stops the Passover story with quick nuggets of Jewish thoughts that are grounded in Talmud, Midrash and Kabbalah. But right when you think you may be growing tired, he shifts to Harry Potter and how the J.K. Rowling series relates to the biblical story. [Read more…]
Marianna Bergues, a 17-year old Narberth native, has published a whimsical children’s book in English, Hebrew, and French. The Cat, the Fish, and the Waiter is a retelling of a French bedtime story that her father tucked her into bed with throughout her childhood.
It is a story of a French waiter who works in a café in Paris. He makes many friends while doing his job, and agrees to take care of some of their pets while they are away.
The charming illustrations, executed by Christian Bergues, convey what café life in Paris is like. The cat and the fish take the reader on a wonderful tour of Paris.
Ms. Bergues gives her readers a glimpse of what it is like to grow up in a multicultural and multilingual home. As it becomes more common for families to relocate, many families are becoming more international. Readers of all ages will enjoy this delightful story, and perhaps improve their Hebrew or French.
By Laurel Fairworth
This year the Israeli Film Festival of Philadelphia is all over the map in a theatrical way. Now in its 21st year, the festival kicked off on Saturday, March 4. The month-long film extravaganza, which runs through April 2, 2017, takes place in venues around the Philadelphia area including the Perelman at the Kimmel Center, the Ritz, the International House, Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy and the Bryn Mawr Film Institute. [Read more…]
Over 35 prominent Philadelphia authors, journalists and poets will read for hundreds of members of the literary community and concerned citizens at Philadelphia Writers Resist: United for Liberty on Sunday, January 15 at 2 PM to protest the potential erosion of cherished American rights such as free expression in the wake of the 2016 Presidential election. The event will be held at the National Museum of Jewish History and is free and open to the public.
“Philadelphia Writers Resist: United for Liberty” will take place in sight of Independence Hall. It will feature Beth Kephart, Liz Moore, Thomas Devaney, Nathaniel Popkin, Herman Beavers, Lorene Cary, Carmen Machado, Fran Wilde, former Philly Poet Laureate Frank Sherlock, and dozens of other members of the local literary community. Many of them will be reading seminal Philadelphia freedom texts from the American Revolution to the 21st century.
It’s one of 50 simultaneous Writers Resist events around the US, which will include readings and speeches by authors like Cheryl Strayed, Alexander Chee, and Mary Karr, former U.S. Poet Laureates Robert Pinsky and Rita Dove, and journalist Amy Goodman.
“Writers Resist” was conceived by poet and literary activist Erin Bilieu. She became concerned during the recent Presidential campaign about public cynicism and the disdain for truthfulness that have eroded democratic ideals.
“Writers are acutely aware when the uses of language are empty,” she said. “Whether you live in a red or blue state, or another country that cares deeply about the American experiment, there is no more important battle than our right to truth.”
“Philadelphia Writers Resist: United for Liberty” is being organized by local authors Nathaniel Popkin, Alicia Askenase, and Stephanie Feldman.
“We’re bringing together writers at the birthplace of American freedoms, and we’ll be reading from historic texts to remind us of the legacy we all need to protect,” says Popkin. “We’re coming together because as writers we must speak up for the First Amendment, for dignity and truth.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
“Philadelphia Writers Resist: United for Liberty” Facebook page #WritersResist. “Writers Resist” is a national network of writers driven to #WriteOurDemocracy by defending the ideals of a free, just and compassionate democratic society.
“Philadelphia Writers Resist: United for Liberty”
Sunday January 15, 2017
National Museum of American Jewish History, Dell Auditorium
5th and Market Streets
Free and open to the public.
Tonight we offer a double musical treat for Hanukkah from Six 13, a nationally renowned, all-male Jewish a capella group. An internet sensation, the group has also performed on national TV and radio, and in venues across the country and around the world. As described on their website, their music is “fueled by thumping beatbox, intricate arrangements, and soulful harmonies” with the goal of “connect[ing] Jews around the globe with their heritage through music.” The lyrics in Six 13’s Hanukkah videos below are impressively creative and thoroughly entertaining.
Here is their 2014 parody of the Taylor Swift song “Shake It Off”:
Six 13’s most recent Hanukkah song, which they performed at the White House for the president and the first lady, is a parody of the show “Hamilton”: