Evan and Seth’s Jewish Not-Jewish Movie Blog: The Disaster Artist, Part 2

by | Feb 29, 2020 | Hillel Ontario | 0 comments

Jewy and Not-as-Jewy Sources

As you think about the film and consider the post-screening questions below, here are some fun Jewy and not-as-Jewy sources for you to think about! We’ve chosen texts that relate to the themes of friendship and relentless pursuit of one’s goals, both of which show up strongly in The Disaster Artist (because why would we chose quotes that have nothing to do with the movie? That would be weird.)

  1. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Two are better off than one, in that they have greater benefit from their earnings. For should they fall, one can raise the other; but woe betide him who is alone and falls with no companion to raise him! Further, when two lie together they are warm; but how can he who is alone get warm? Also, if one attacks, two can stand up to him. A threefold cord is not readily broken!

  1. Proverbs 18:24

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

  1. Hatikvah

As long as in the heart within,

The Jewish soul yearns,

And toward the eastern edges, onward,

An eye gazes toward Zion,

Our hope is not yet lost,

The hope two thousand years old,

To be a free nation in our land,

The land of Zion and Jerusalem

  1. “A good friend will always stab you in the front.” ― Oscar Wilde

Post-Screening Questions

  1. Tommy and Greg promise each other mutual support and never to give up on their dreams. Have you ever had a partner in a sweeping endeavour or made a promise like this to someone? How did that affect how you approached your goals? Do you find that the Jewish community provides support for you in working toward being your best self, Jewishly or generally?
  2. Toward the end of the film, Carolyn/”Claudette” responds to Greg’s question about why she persists in acting in spite of the difficulty, saying, “We’re actors, Greg. For you, me, people like us, even the worst day on a movie set is better than the best day doing anything else.” Is there anything you’ve ever felt this strongly about? Did you have other people you could share that feeling with?
  3. There are moments in the film where Tommy’s dream is unclear or changes (e.g., Tommy’s dream often seems to be more about finding friendship or respect or creating community around himself than acting or producing a movie, Tommy accepts Greg’s take that people love and are entertained by the film, even if it’s not exactly in the way Tommy intended it). Similarly, what it means to be and to express being Jewish have changed over time, and Jewishness and Judaism can sometimes be a little ambiguous in terms of what they mean. Have you ever had moments of uncertainty or change in how you defined your dreams or who you are?

Dear dedicated readers, if you’ve read this blog post this far, felicitations! Thanks for sticking with us to the sweet, sweet end, and we hope you enjoyed the film and our attempts to find/unearth Jewiness in the most unexpected of places! Please join us again next month, and hey, feel free to send us suggestions of films to screen.

Holocaust Remembrance Day 2023

Holocaust Remembrance Day 2023

In their research on listening to survivors of the Holocaust and other genocides, Bronwen E. Low and Emmanuelle Sonntag note listeners’ problematic tendencies towards one of two responses.  On the one hand, they can regard the narratives as so unfamiliar and foreign that they must be pushed away as overwhelming, untouchable, and inaccessible.  On the other, the stories can be seen as familiar, to the point that the listener cannot separate their own experiences and emotional response from what they take in.

But another, preferable response exists: Roger I. Simon and Claudia Eppert talk about a “chain of testimony” and suggest that listening imposes a duty on the listener.  Listening to personal testimony at the crossroads of memory and history “imposes particular obligations on those called to receive it – obligations imbued with the exigencies of justice, compassion, and hope that define the horizon for a world yet to be realized.”  In this way, bearing witness and listening to testimony demands a number of actions and responses, including that we “transport and translate stories of past injustices beyond their moment of telling by taking these stories to another time and space where they become available to be heard or seen.”

If we take Simon and Eppert’s charge seriously, as I believe we should, those of us who have been privileged to hear the direct testimony of survivors of the Holocaust.  Their words come not just with the specific knowledge they impart or the emotional impact they have on us – sorrow, anger, fear, horror – but with a duty, an obligation of some kind.  

On many of our campuses, this week is Holocaust Education Week, and this Friday marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day.  Given the significant number of Holocaust survivors and their descendants in Canada, the scheduled events and programs have a personal resonance for many of our students and their families, but their impact can be deep and meaningful for all of us, regardless of who we are and where we come from.  I encourage each of you to make time to participate in this week’s activities and to consider your place in the chain of testimony: what obligation does listening to narratives from the Holocaust place on you, and how do you carry those stories forward in time?

 

Weekly D’var: Shemot

Weekly D’var: Shemot

In this week’s parashah we learn the story of Moses, from his birth, through his flight from and eventual return to Egypt, to the acceptance of his role as leader of the Hebrew people.

After fleeing Egypt, for killing an Egyptian slave master, Moses was living rather peacefully as a shepherd in the land of Midian. The Torah describes for us Moses’s first interaction with G-d upon coming across a bush, “burning with a heart of fire [Exodus 3:3]”. G-d calls out to Moses and requests he take the Jewish people out of Egypt and eventually into the land of Israel. However, Moses argues with G-d, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh? Who am I that I should take the Jews out of Egypt? [Exodus 3:11]” After initially refusing four times, Moses eventually agrees to G-ds request, and as we know, the rest is history. But why was Moses so unwilling to take up the position of leader, to the extent that he would argue with G-d? And why was G-d so set on having Moses lead the Jewish people? 

Perhaps the answer can be found through the incident that led to his flight from Egypt, years earlier, when Moses, as mentioned above, killed an Egyptian slave master for beating a Hebrew slave. Immediately, he was met with opposition from some of the Hebrew slaves, “who made you chief and ruler over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian? [Exodus 2:14]” Moses felt discouraged and unsure of his ability to lead. However, it seems that G-d saw in Moses, a faithful shepherd, the ability to lead his people from slavery to freedom. Very often in Tanakh, the people that are most worthy to lead are the ones who deny that they are worthy at all. Moses may not appear to be the first choice for a leadership figure, suffering from a speech impediment and lacking charisma; however, Moses possessed certain qualities that made him the ideal leader to bring the Jewish people out of Egypt. We too possess qualities that can lead us to achieve incredible success and realize our full potential. We may often feel unmotivated or unsure of our own capabilities. Instead of feeling discouraged, I believe we can look to Moses who, despite all his doubts, stepped up to the challenge and became the greatest leader in Jewish history. 

Sam Virine
VP of Jewish Life at Hillel Waterloo & Laurier

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