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!

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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