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Oscar nominations come out today. This movie, not The Fabelmans, was the greatest Jewish film of 2022: For three generations (going on four), the Laemmle family has owned and operated L.A.’s premier arthouse theaters. But when filmmaker Raphael Sbarge caught up with this cinematic dynasty, streaming had cut into their bottom line and the pandemic had changed the industry forever. Sbarge’s film is an intimate portrait of a family whose immigrant journey, success and reinvention is uniquely American and Jewish. As PJ Grisar writes in his review, “the film delivers a funny, touching, multi-layered portrait that gets at an elemental part of the human experience” — sharing stories with other people. Read the story ➤
And while we’re talking movies, here are 10 essential movies of the Yiddish cinematic renaissance: Two Yiddish feature films were released in 1950, and many people thought they might be the last ever made. That changed in 1981, with Brussels-Transit, which kicked off a new wave of Yiddish movies, including a mamaloshn version of Romeo and Juliet, where the cross-cultural love story and rivalry is between Satmar and Bobover Hasidim. Read the story ➤
LISTEN TO OUR NEW PODCAST
Our special limited series podcast, Playing Anne Frank, launches today. In it, our executive editor Adam Langer – whose most recent novel, Cyclorama, explored the backstage drama at a high school production of The Diary of Anne Frank – reveals the untold true story of how The Diary became a Pulitzer-winning Broadway play in 1955 and an Oscar-winning movie four years later, and how it changed the lives of the people who made it. The series features interviews with members of the original Broadway cast, the film, and the national company that brought the play to more than 100 cities throughout the U.S.
The first two episodes dropped this morning. Listen to Playing Anne Frank wherever you get your podcasts and don’t forget to subscribe so you’ll be alerted when the next episode is released. Listen now ➤
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WHAT ELSE YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY
Ezra Law, a Messianic Jew, has repeatedly harassed Congregation Emanu El in Houston. (Houston Police Department/Jewish Herald-Voice)
🕍 A Texas synagogue is shoring up security after a woman who said she was motivated by Messianic beliefs broke in twice, harassed children and poured wine on a Torah scroll. The 33-year-old woman, Ezra Law, said she targeted the synagogue because it had turned her away due to her belief in Jesus. She faces two counts of criminal mischief at a hearing Friday. (Houston Jewish Herald Voice)
🖼️ The heirs of a Jewish family that fled Nazi persecution are demanding the repatriation of a Pablo Picasso painting worth up to $200 million. It is now in possession of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. (NY Post)
🖌️ Two Berkeley, California, billboards raising awareness of antisemitism had “Free Palestine” spray-painted across them. The billboards are by JewBelong, a Jewish nonprofit whose edgy billboards and social media campaigns have caused some controversy. The local police department is investigating the incidents as a hate crime. (ABC 7)
😲 Swastikas and racial slurs were scrawled outside a Kansas high school last week. One of its Jewish students says others at the school previously drew numbers on their arms, mocking Holocaust victims and survivors. (Kansas City Star)
🎭 Broadway stars will perform songs written by Jews imprisoned in concentration camps and ghettos at a Carnegie Hall concert on Thursday in honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day. (NY Jewish Week)
👗 A London museum is seeking David Bowie’s dress and other specific items worn by Mick Jagger and Muhammad Ali for an exhibit on the designers of those clothes – immigrant Jews who worked in the British fashion industry. (JTA)
🎥 The co-creator of Shtisel, the popular Netflix series about a multigenerational Haredi family in Israel, is in the early stages of writing a spin-off that would focus on the character of Nuchem, the brother of Rabbi Shulem Shtisel. (Twitter)
Mazel tov ➤ Daniel Libeskind, the architect behind the Jewish Museum in Berlin and the remodeling of the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, is set to receive the Dresden Peace Prize on Feb. 19.
Shiva call ➤ Grigory Kanovich, an author who chronicled Lithuanian Jewry in more than 30 plays, a dozen novels and several collections of poems and short stories, died at 93.
On this day in history (1941): Neil Diamond was born in Brooklyn. Before writing “Sweet Caroline,” the singer-songwriter sang in a high school choir with Barbra Streisand and saw Pete Seeger perform at a Jewish summer camp. The Forward’s contributing music critic Dan Epstein says that while Diamond’s persona is synonymous with “schmaltz, glitz, and hits,” the “lonely little kid” at the heart of his hits makes them timeless.
Last year on this day, a Winter Olympian told us that he would be figure skating to music from Schindler’s List at the 2022 Beijing Games. He did not medal.
On the Hebrew calendar, it’s the second of Shevat, when Asher from the Bible was born.
In honor of National Peanut Butter Day, remember when Gal Gadot tried Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups for the first time?
The many late-night faces of Rep. George Santos: Saturday Night Live is not the only show to parody the Republican congressman who has repeatedly lied about his resume and his Jewish identity. Jon Lovitz appeared as Santos on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon on Friday. Asked about his appointment to the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, Lovitz as Santos replied: “Yes, I’ve always been involved in science. You know, not to brag, but it was my idea to have gravity.”
A fake Santos – er, a fake fake Santos – also showed up on Jimmy Kimmel Live in recent days, with a bit (at about the 10-minute mark) that includes jokes about the Jews building the pyramids and something about his bubbe’s kugel.
Not to be outdone, another actor portraying Santos popped up Thursday on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, (starts at about the 2-minute mark). Enjoy!
Thanks to Nora Berman, Rachel Fishman Feddersen, PJ Grisar, Adam Langer, Rebecca Salzhauer and Talya Zax for contributing to today’s newsletter.
You can reach the “Forwarding” team at [email protected].