Our Dream Hollywood Cast of Purim: The Movie

by | Mar 8, 2019 | Entertainment, Hillel Ontario, Jewish Holiday, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Purim is right around the corner, which means it’s time to pull out your costumes, bake some hamentashens and watch your favourite Purim movie.

Wait–there aren’t any movies about Purim!

There are popular and successful movies about Hanukkah and Passover, but surprisingly there are no well-known Hollywood movies about Purim. The story of Purim is filled with drama that would translate well on-screen. While we patiently wait for someone to make a blockbuster Purim film, we have put together our dream cast, including some well-known Jewish actors.

Luke Evans as Haman

Haman, the antagonist in the Purim story, is evil, selfish, cunning, and extremely power hungry. The first person that came to mind for this role is Luke Evans, who portrayed Gaston in Beauty and the Beast. Gaston is smug and arrogant, and he wanted to wreak havoc on the town and kill the Beast. Luke Evans would be a villainous Haman.

Natalie Portman as Queen Esther

Queen Esther, the heroine of Purim, is kind, wise, courageous, compassionate, and naturally beautiful. Everyone in the Hillel Ontario Office agrees that the best actor to play Esther is Natalie Portman. Portman, a famous Jewish actor, was born in Jerusalem. Did you know her Hebrew name is “Neta-Lee”? Portman has many of the same qualities as Esther and has played roles where she is a strong female lead, such as her role as Jackie Kennedy in Jackie.

Sacha Baron Cohen as Mordechai

Mordechai is another hero in the Purim story. He is kind, honest, wise and intellectual. He is noble and modest, and overall the “good guy” in the story of Purim. Sacha Baron Cohen might not be the most obvious choice for Mordechai since he typically portrays outlandish characters. However, we think he could take on the challenge of this serious role and would bring depth to the role of Mordechai.

Did you know that Baron Cohen was raised in a Jewish family and is fluent in Hebrew?

Jon Hamm as Achashverosh

Achashverosh is stubborn and always gets what he wants as the king while also being a drunk and a partier. Jon Hamm has played a number of roles where he is in power positions, such as the character Don Draper in Mad Men. Don Draper is smart, confident, intriguing while also being a bit of a drunk. Based on the similarities between Don Draper and Achashverosh we believe Jon Hamm would nail the role.

Gal Gadot as Queen Vashti

Queen Vashti is beautiful, strong willed, bold, empowered and stands up for herself. Our favourite Israeli actress, Gal Gadot, is hands down the best person for this role. Born in Petah Tikva, Israel, Gadot was raised in a Jewish home and served two years in the IDF as a combat instructor. She not only represents a strong woman in real life, she was also outstanding as the lead actor in the movie Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman is fierce, brave and stands up for what is right and what she believes in, which is why we think Gadot would be a great Queen Vashti.

What do you think of our cast? Who is your dream Purim cast? Any suggestions for a director? We look forward to hearing your ideas.

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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