Evan and Seth’s Jewish Not-Jewish Movie Blog: The Last Jedi

by | Feb 21, 2020 | Hillel Ontario | 0 comments

Welcome to the second installment of Evan and Seth’s Jewish Not-Jewish Movie Blog! As you might remember, about once a month, Evan (Senior Jewish Educator, Hillel York)  and Seth (Chief Education & Campus Officer, Hillel Ontario) are going to take a look at a movie that has no ostensible or identifiable Jewish content and offer their commentary, as well as some Jewish texts that address one (or more!) of the movie’s themes.

This month’s movie is The Last Jedi (2017).  Some of you might be more familiar with its ultimate lead-in film, The Phantom Menace, but let’s give it a little respect and let it stand on its own today.  (Doing so also allows us to avoid talking about The Rise of Skywalker, which both of us disliked strongly, so, like, bonus.)

There’s a whole lot going on in this film. Too much, some say.  But at the core of the film are mentor/mentee and teacher/student relationships: Leia and Poe; Luke and Rey; Snoke and Kylo Ren; Holdo and Poe (even if he’s not the most willing of students).  These aspects of the movie drive both its plot and the characters’ development, providing us with a moment to reflect on the way our mentors and teachers have influenced us and how we, in turn, have influenced others when we’ve stepped into those roles.

Why We Chose This Film and What’s Jewy about It

  1. It’s available on Netflix, so it’s easier for you all to watch.
  2. The recent release of The Rise of Skywalker and the newly built Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge theme park at Hollywood Studios in Orlando has given us Star-Wars-itis!
  3. The only thing that Star Wars fans like more than Star Wars is complaining about Star Wars, so we figured this might allow us to do so!

As mentioned above, teacher/student relationships undergird much of the story in this film. Judaism, too, recognizes the significance of this dynamic. One example of this would be the multiplicity of Biblical narratives that focus on teacher/student relationships, such as the narrative of Moses and his protégé Joshua (and the associated commentaries and Midrashim). Another way that Jewish literature looks at this idea is through the legal writings that dissect this relationship with a more granular and technical approach, specifically outlining laws and customs that describe a “proper” teacher/student dynamic.

Pre-Screening Questions

Before you push play, here are some things to think about:

  1. What qualities do you look for in a mentor, and how do you go about finding one?
  2. Who are the best mentors or teachers you ever had?  The worst? What made them so good/awful?
  3. When have you served as a mentor or teacher to someone else?  What led you to take that role on?

Ready to watch the movie? Great! Go watch the movie! Now!

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 theme of mentor/mentee relationships.

  1. Pirkei Avot 1:6

Joshua ben Perachiah used to say: “Make a teacher for yourself, and acquire a companion for yourself.

  1. Babylonian Talmud, Ta’anit 7a

Rabbi Chanina used to say: “I have learned much from my teachers, and even more from my friends, but from my students I have learned more than from all of them.”

  1. Analects of Confucius 7:8

The Master said: “If a student is not eager, I won’t teach him; if he is not struggling with the truth, I won’t reveal it to him. If I lift up one corner and he can’t come back with the other three, I won’t do it again.”

  1. Albert Einstein

It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.

Post-Screening Questions

  1. Which of the students/mentors in the film do you relate best to?  Which of the teachers/mentors?
  2. Which characters’ styles of teaching and learning do you connect best with?
  3. Thinking about our first text, how do you see friendship and the teacher/student relationship play out together in the film?
  4. How do power dynamics play a role in the outcome of the various teacher/student relationships? Do the different relationships shown in the film offer diverse representations of how power affects teacher/student relationships?

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.

Annamie Paul Joins Hillel Ontario

Annamie Paul Joins Hillel Ontario

Last month Hillel Ontario heard from Annamie Paul, leader of the Green Party of Canada. After winning the leadership race back in October of 2020, Annamie became the first Black person and first Jewish woman to lead a federal Canadian political party. Since then, she has been speaking to Canadians all across the country, spreading messages of hope and inspiration, during a time where these moments are a rarity. No matter the political orientation of the Zoom attendees of this fireside chat, everyone walked away with a few life lessons up their sleeve.

Here are some of my biggest takeaways. First, Annamie spoke about following your passion, a message that I know many students needed to hear. When I graduated from grade 12, I was constantly asked where I saw myself in five years, ten years, and sometimes even twenty years. Although I was asked with the best intentions, I’ve always felt overwhelming pressure to envision a clear career path. Annamie dispelled this myth by referencing the enjoyment associated with the process of discovering your passion rather than having a final goal in mind, and Annamie’s enthusiasm for human rights through a policy lens has shaped the course of her life. Second, Annamie spoke about the importance of speaking up in the face of injustice. Whether you consider yourself an advocate or not, Annamie highlighted the need to follow your moral compass, never remaining complicit. Following Annamie’s time as the leader of the Green Party, it is clear that she isn’t afraid to use her voice and position to shine light on racism, antisemitism, and sexism. These are two lessons I think everyone can learn from.

Annamie spoke about growing up in Toronto Centre (the riding where she will be running in the next federal election), her career as an international lawyer, and her decision to enter politics. As someone who doesn’t fit the mold of a traditional politician, Annamie referenced about the challenges that she’s faced as a Black, Jewish woman. Racism, antisemitism, and sexism were all constant throughout her leadership campaign, and her six months leading the Green Party. 

Throughout Annamie’s talk, I learned about the importance of elevating voices that have previously gone unheard. In a predominantly white space, Hillel students and staff need to work hard to ensure that Jews of Colour feel welcomed. 

After 45 minutes, the latter half of which consisted of an insightful Q&A, Annamie mentioned that she would love to be invited back to another Hillel Ontario fireside chat. For now, I’ll take Annamie’s lessons with me while looking forward to hearing about all of her accomplishments in a year from now.

  • Skylar Banks, Guelph Hillel
Collaboration Breeds Diversity and Inclusion

Collaboration Breeds Diversity and Inclusion

Collaborating with other student organizations allows us to diversify the students at our events, build coalitions, establish good rapport with other student groups and broaden the topics of the content that we deliver. 

This past month, we had the privilege of working with the Waterloo and Laurier chapters of Menstruation Redefined, which is committed to helping with the “institutional and social barriers surrounding menstruation that risk the health, well-being, and daily lives of many.” This mission resonated with us at Hillel because we understand the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion for all. These are values that we hold as Jews, and want to embody at Hillel. 

We joined forces to produce a fun evening of trivia and learning. The event allowed us to reach new students, educate others on Jewish practice for those who menstruate, and learn more about Menstruation Redefined’s mission. Collaborative events like this allow us to understand key issues and causes that other student-run campus groups advocate for and to build strong allyships and ensure that we propel Hillel’s values forward, such as inclusion and equity.

Jessica Bloom, HIllel Waterloo Student President
Veronica Grad, Hillel Laurier Student President

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