Jews in Other Lands

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ASHKENAZ - 30 Minutes
Jewish people lived in what is now Germany for over 1,000 continuous years. For much of that time their existence was fraught with degradation, danger, and segregation.

“Ashkenaz” takes a look at this civilization by examining the artifacts of this important chapter in Jewish history, which dates back to the ninth century. Although Yiddish was born in the Rhineland, and later spread eastward, the emancipation of German Jewry in 1802 by Napoleon brought about a rapid change in their status and later in their role in society. From Napoleon to Hitler is a mere five generations, but in that short timeframe German Jewry rose to heights unparalleled in human endeavor, excelling in science, art, literature, music, and commerce. German Jews identified with all aspects of German existence and culture, forsaking Yiddish for German, and imbibing German ideas and attitudes. It appeared that German Jewry wanted more than anything else to be accepted as Germans. This of course was not to be, with the eventual extinction of Jewish civilization in the 1930's leading up to the Holocaust. Nevertheless, “Ashkenaz” is not an epitaph to a dead civilization, but rather a beautiful remembrance of a proud people who kept their dignity and culture for more than 10 centuries.

Describes the origins of the Jewish community in France and traces its history from medieval times through the Nazi Holocaust, to the North African influx, and to the present. Shows the problems, dilemmas and pressures of the Jewish community in France, which has both older Askenazic and newer Sephardic segments. Shows students and their training in Paris, Villiers-le-Bel, Choisy-le-Rol, Montreuil, Lyon, Strasbourg and Marseilles; and shares a Passover Seder. This is a stirring, incisive, vivid and inspiring document.

JEWS OF MOROCCO - 15 Minutes
This is an authentic film record of the dissolution of the 2000 year old Jewish community. Beautifully photographed, the camera moves from the Mellah of Casablanca to towns centuries removed from the 20th century. Here we see the Jews of the Atlas Mountains in their dress and demeanor, on the eve of their departure for a new life.

Recounts the history of the Jews in South America. Poses problems in getting a Jewish education. Highlights the commencement of the Jewish community in Brazil from 1630 through the present, and includes personal narratives of those who escaped Nazi Germany.

Dramatizes significant episodes in the life of the famous German-Jewish philosopher Moses Mendelssohn, who in the year 1760 challenged Frederick the Great of Prussia on the question of freedom of religion.

POLAND - 17 Minutes; and KOLBUSZOWA - 27 Minutes
These two films show typical shtetls of Poland as they existed in the late 1920’ and 1930’. The Jews and the Poles live side by side and yet they are apart. It is easy to conjure images of Jerzy Kosinski’ novel The Painted Bird when seeing the vacant Polish faces at the marketplace. These films cut through the mystery of Jewish life in Eastern Europe, and enable the viewer to imagine the inevitable horrors that will follow.

Drama portraying the life of Moses Maimonides (the Rambam). A great Jewish scholar of the twelfth century, author of Mishneh Torah and the Moreh Nevukhim (Guide for the Perplexed), Maimonides distinguished himself in a number of callings, including those of rabbi, astronomer, scientist, physician and philosopher.

Filmed in Italy, this documentary features Dr. Gerson D. Cohen, noted historian and Chancellor of The Jewish Theological Seminary of America, as narrator and guide. The audience is introduced to magnificent Italian cities where Jewish communities flourished, the ghetto originated, and the Talmud was first printed.

Dr. Gerson D. Cohen, noted historian and Chancellor of The Jewish Theological Seminary of America, serves as narrator and guide. Dr. Cohen conducts the audience on a personal tour of the great centers of Spanish Jewish civilization, where such figures as Judah Halevi and Moses Maimonides left a legacy of science, philosophy, medicine, mathematics and literature.

THE OATH - 27 Minutes
Depicts the life of Jewry in Russia and Arab countries and their desperate attempts to maintain contact with Jewish traditions despite the obstacles placed in their way. Most of the material was shot illegally and some of it was acquired through official channels of French television and was prepared by the Syrian government authorities as a propaganda film on the life of Jewry in Arab countries. The film goes on to depict the life of new immigrants in Israel and the problems of absorption, defense and social integration.