Our Favourite 2019 Oscar Nominated Movies

by | Feb 22, 2019 | Entertainment, Hillel Ontario | 0 comments

Ah, awards season, that time of year when we spend our Sundays watching a three hour show, which turns into a three-and-a-half hour show. (When do they ever run on time?) We’ve already watched the Golden Globes and The Grammys, but tonight is Oscar night! Despite the lengthy show and lack of a host this year, there are some really great movies nominated. We asked the Hillel Ontario staff which Oscar nominated movies are their favourites, and here’s what they had to say.

A STAR IS BORN


What’s not to love about Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga? Not only was the movie itself amazing, but the soundtrack complements the plot and cinematography perfectly. Lady Gaga captivates us with her outstanding singing and songwriting in the most popular song in the movie, “Shallows”, which has been nominated for Best Original Song. Did you know that the song was co-written by Jewish songwriter Mark Ronson? Go figure!

BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY

A favourite in the Hillel Ontario office, and for understandable reasons! Queen is one of the most influential rock bands of all time, and this film portrays the rise of the band and its lead singer, Freddie Mercury. From the scene portraying the creation of their most famous song, “Bohemian Rhapsody,” to their epic Live Aid performance, this film is a must-see.

THE FAVOURITE


This film features notable Jewish actress Rachel Weisz. She’s been nominated for her strong performance as Lady Sarah Churchill, a cunning, politically astute and power-hungry woman who is Queen Anne’s closest advisor and friend. Her villainous performance makes her a frontrunner to win Best Actress in a Supporting Role.

GREEN BOOK


The Hillel Ontario staff unanimously agree that Green Book will win Best Picture of the Year. Green Book is based on the true-life story of a famous African-American pianist and a white Italian New Yorker. The two form an unlikely bond in the 1960s during a time when unabashed racism and overt segregation are prevalent in the southern United States.

FUN FACT! Did you know that, of 8,000 people who vote for this year’s Academy Awards, only one of them is a Rabbi? Read more about two-time Oscar winner Rabbi Marvin Hier here.

Happy Oscar watching!

Jews of India

Jews of India

On January 28th, I was proud to host a panel discussion on the history and culture of the Jewish communities of India with 40 guests and about 80 listeners. I was inspired to put the program together by the thoughtful Sephardi, Mizrahi, Ethiopian, Bukhari and yes, Indian Jews on social media who advocate for their community’s representation within large Jewish institutions. 

For most of my life, ‘Jewish cultural programming’ has been synonymous with either Ashkenazi or Israeli culture, to the detriment of my understanding of our people’s beautiful diversity. Working at the University of Toronto Multi-Faith Centre, I realized I could use the platform I was responsible for to uplift these lesser-heard Jewish voices. I settled on Indian Jewry, as opposed to Ethiopian or Bukhari or Kai Feng Jews, out of interest in the origin story of their people: a ship fleeing war in Judea wrecks off the coast of Mumbai, where a dozen survivors reconstitute their culture in a strange land, isolated from world Jewry for hundreds of years.

We had four speakers. Dr Shalva Weil, a professor at Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Ann Samson, a historian and leader of Toronto’s Indian-Jewish synagogue; Judith Dworkin, an Indian Jewish educator raised in Toronto’s Indian-Jewish community and Director of McMaster Hillel; and Anna Rajagopal, a young Indian Jewish writer and activist from the United States, who is a prominent social media personality for Jews of Colour. 

The program was phenomenal. We had nearly 100 guests, and many questions for our speakers. All of the speakers enjoyed their time and are eager to come back for any future programs. It was equal parts fascinating and touching to hear these four people describe their relationships with ashkenormativity, diaspora, and most importantly, their own culture.

Jacob Kates Rose, Hillel UofT

A Hillel Staff’s Perspective

A Hillel Staff’s Perspective

Students have had a very different academic year. One that they have never experienced before. There has been isolation, lack of extracurricular activities and little to no in-person contact. In a recent McMaster Hillel student executive meeting on zoom, I said “we are in the business of community so we need to think creatively about what it feels like to be part of this community. ” How does one do this in a pandemic, when campus is closed and when we don’t see each other at all? How do we know how each of us are doing? Are we alone? Are we lonely? Are we coping? Do we bring our best selves to a Zoom and then grapple alone with our worries? These are the questions that I struggle with when trying to support a community despite the challenges that exist for us. 

From the beginning, Hillel pulled out all the pandemic stops to connect with students. Shabbat in a box and delivered to you? Yes! Zoom games night? Yes! Mental health and wellness box? Sign up here! We have you covered. These programs and services were created to keep our community together while at our own homes. We are able to connect through a screen and eat dinner, not together, but knowing that there were over 70 students enjoying the same meal in the comfort of their own homes as well. And we connected face to face over Zoom before and after, while enjoying our rugelach, of course!

All of these programs are great, but the individual connections are even more paramount. A text to a student to check in, a happy birthday wish on their special day or an unfortunate condolence call for those who have lost loved ones. For me, it’s putting in the extra effort to make a student feel special and finding ways to do this. Does the student have dietary needs that we can fulfill and can we make this student feel seen in making a special box for them? Did a student forget to sign up for Shabbat but do we have an extra meal for them anyway? Can we put an extra dessert in a bag, just because we know that student had a tough week? Even though we are in Hamilton, can we make an extra effort so our Toronto or out-of-province students also feel a part of our community and send them mailings and deliveries so that they feel part of our programming? Having inclusive programming is a cornerstone of Hillel’s mandate. In a pandemic, even more so. 

I miss seeing the students. I miss hanging out in the Hillel office and chatting over a bagel and cracking jokes over the lineup at the toaster. I miss bumping into students on campus, catching up on their lives, and being part of a place where they come for comfort and support (and food!).    With all the programming and outreach we have done in the past 10 months, I hope that we can continue to maintain our virtual community. That even though we are not in person, our students know we are still here for them. While the medium may have changed, the sentiment certainly has not.

 

 

 

 


Judith Dworkin,
Director, McMaster Hillel

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