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.

A New Hillel Home in Kingston!

A New Hillel Home in Kingston!

Kingston, ON – September 21, 2022

For 50 years, the Otterburn House in Kingston, Ontario was the home of Queen’s Hillel. Since 2018, however, Queen’s Hillel has been without a permanent location, necessitating the use of temporary rental space on-campus.

Over the past year, Beth Israel Synagogue invested in an intensive rejuvenation project to give the Otterburn House its first major update since 1992. Today, with the invaluable support of two community visionaries, we are excited to share that our Queen’s Hillel staff, Yos and Leora Tarshish, will be making the Otterburn House both their own home, and a renewed base for Queen’s Hillel. By creating a welcoming community grounded in their own lives, Yos and Leora will serve as a model for what Jewish living in all of its dimensions can be, and leverage the successful models of Base and Moishe House.

On behalf of Hillel Ontario, Chief Executive Officer, Rabbi Seth Goren said the following:

“Hillel Ontario has been striving to ensure that Queen’s Hillel once again had a space to meaningfully engage Jewish students in Kingston. Yos and Leora Tarshish have been working tirelessly to nurture strong and resilient Jewish students, build innovative micro-communities, and empower the next generation of community advocates. With the invaluable support of community philanthropists who are committed to the Kingston community, and to the future of Jewish students at Queen’s, Hillel Ontario could not be more pleased to see Hillel once again have a permanent home in Kingston.”

On behalf of Queen’s Hillel, Director, Yos Tarshish said the following:

“Leora and I are incredibly excited to be moving into the Otterburn House, and welcoming a new generation of Jewish students into a space that holds such a special place in the history of Queen’s Hillel. The space has been lovingly restored by the hard work of the Beth Israel Otterburn Committee, led by Arnie Palmer, Michael Springer, Richard Kizell and Mark Malinoff, and it is a true testament to the vigour and tenacity of the Kingston Jewish community. Jewish student life has been steadily growing in Kingston for more than a decade, and Hillel is at the forefront of ensuring that the Jewish community on campus is both vibrant and inclusive. We are honoured to engage Jewish students on campus in Kingston, and are immensely grateful for the opportunity to bring Hillel activities back to Otterburn.”

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Hillel Ontario is the largest regional Hillel in the world, serving nine universities, with a combined Jewish student population of 14,000.

For additional information, please contact:

Jay Solomon
Chief Communications & Public Affairs Officer
jay.solomon@hillelontario.org

Weekly D’var: Ki Tavo

Weekly D’var: Ki Tavo

In this week’s Torah portion, Ki Tavo, Moses highlights how the Jewish People should build their relationship with G-d when they enter the land of Israel. A key element in relationship growth is showing gratitude for all that G-d has provided them. Moses demonstrates how to express gratitude by offering the first fruits of the land to G-d and encourages the people of Israel to do likewise. Moses foreshadows the day when the people will bring the first fruits to the Temple on the holiday of Shavuot, Pentecost; through this offering, the people will be blessed. Bringing the fruit to the temple shows the gratitude the people of Israel have for G-d bringing them to the promised land and sustaining them through the new produce.

What a joy to give blessings and to receive blessings. As we begin a new school year, we feel gratitude for all it took to come to this day. Moses concludes by telling the people that after 40 years of wandering the desert, they have attained “a heart to know, eyes to see and ears to hear.” We have also sustained a long wandering during these last couple years of COVID restrictions, virtual school and limited social interactions. Thinking about that and what this new year may bring, we should give and receive blessings and go through the new school year with an open heart, a keen eye, and a listening ear to give.

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