From Woody Allen to the Cohen Brothers to Barbara Streisand, Jewish writers, actors, directors and producers have unabashedly interwoven Jewish wisdom, values, traditions and our unique sense of humor into some of the movies we love best. The Godfather, Yentl, Matrix, Spiderman are just the tip of the iceberg.
Cinema: The Jewish Lens Mini-Course takes you behind the scenes, introducing you to Hollywood stars, film critics, screen writers, professors, rabbis and Biblical scholars who shed light on the ancient wisdom and Jewish traditions that find expression in Hollywood today.
Original, entertaining, and easy-to-use, Cinema: The Jewish Lens Mini-Course is now available for use in schools, synagogues and organizations. It comes with a comprehensive Moderator’s Guide that includes DVDs, explicit directions on how to run the course, and discussion questions.This 4-class mini-course is sure to be a hit!
Cinema: The Jewish Lens is perfect for engaging your audience in meaningful discussions about core Jewish teachings, such as Jewish identity, love, suffering, and leadership.
Cinema: The Jewish Lens Mini-Course is original, entertaining, and easy-to-use. The package includes:
- DVD with four 35-minute films.
- License to show the films in a group setting.
- Comprehensive Moderator’s Guide with explicit directions.
- Marketing and promotional materials.
A license to purchase the course for one-year, taught at one location, is $500.
1. The Jewish Picture
As far back as silent film, Jews have graced the Silver Screen both in front of the camera and behind the scenes. With such a presence in Hollywood, the question resonates; can movies be “Jewish?”
2. At First Sight
Judy Garland once said, “It was not into my ear you whispered, but into my heart.” Love is more than a romantic glance across the dance floor; it is the driving force that unites our souls. Find out where Judaism places love in the narrative of our lives.
3. The Comedy of Conflict
Seinfeld, Stiller and Jack Black will make you laugh until you have tears in your eyes and your stomach hurts. Yet if you look beyond the laughs, comedies are complex and built around conflict and pain. Why? Discover the Jewish perspective on pain and suffering while unraveling the mysteries of the conflict of comedy.
4. Heroes in Action
On the surface, Spiderman is a hero in a red costume who swings from buildings and saves the day. But is there more to the story? Explore the psyche of action heroes from the Jewish perspective, and discover what makes ordinary people become great leaders.
1. Elliott Gould
Elliott Gould is an Academy Award and Golden Globe nominated actor who has performed in over 70 feature films in a career spanning 35 years. He is most famous for his role in the TV series M*A*S*H and the Ocean's 11, Ocean's 12 and Ocean's 13 films. He has starred in numerous other popular TV shows, including Friends, CSI and Law & Order, hosted Saturday Night Live six times, and appeared on the cover of Time magazine.
2. Gary Sinise
Gary Sinise is an American actor, film director, producer and musician. Before entering the Hollywood scene, he founded and directed many notable productions of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago. He has won various awards including an Emmy for the television film show George Wallace, a Golden Globe Award for his role in the film Truman, and numerous Academy Awards nominations, including for his role in the film Forrest Gump, which also earned him an Oscar nomination. He directed and acted in the film adaptation Of Mine and Men, and starred in the dramatic hit Ransom, Apollo 13 with Tom Hanks, and CBS's CSI: NY since 2004. He lives with his wife Moira Harris and their three children.
3. David Shore
David Shore is the creator and executive producer of House MD, which has won awards as varied as the People's Choice and the Peabody. He personally won the Humanitas Prize and an Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series for the House episode Three Stories. He has written for numerous TV shows, including cult favorites Due South, NYPD Blue and EZ Streets, served as head writer and supervising producer on Traders, and was part of the writing team of the Emmy Award-winning first season of The Practice. He was twice nominated for an Emmy as a producer on Law & Order and executive-produced both Family Law and Hack.
4. Howard Gordon
Howard Gordon is a producer and television writer. After graduating from Princeton University, he began his Hollywood career writing for a number of popular TV shows and joined The Ex-Files as a supervising producer and writer. He spent time writing for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and The Inside, until he became a writer, executive producer and then showrunner for 24. He also recently co-developed and produced the hit show Homeland, and will be premiering another show, Awake, as executive producer, writer and showrunner.
5. MICHAEL MANN
Michael Mann is a film director and producer who has received numerous award nominations, including from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, Cannes and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He is most famous for directing his first award-winning film, the The Jericho Mile, writing for TV shows like Starsky and Hutch, producing and creating the long-running TV series Miami Vice, and directing, writing and producing many famous films, including The Last of the Mohicans, Heat, Ali and Public Enemies. He produced the Academy Awards ceremony twice, and received a graduate degree at the International Film School in London.
6. Michael Medved
Michael Medved is a bestselling author of twelve non-fiction books and a nationally syndicated talk radio host. His three-hour daily program on politics and pop culture reaches more than 200 markets and an audience estimated at 4.7 million. As co-founder of Pacific Jewish Center in Venice, California, he has helped to educate thousands in Jewish wisdom. He has been a frequent guest on major TV talk shows, including Larry King Live, Nightline, Oprah, David Letterman, Good Morning America, CNN's Reliable Sources and countless others. His columns on media and society appear regularly in USA Today, where he serves as a member of the Board of Contributors.
7. Jennifer Gibgot
Jennifer Gibgot began her career as a producer running Tapestry Films in 1995. In 2002 she started Offspring Entertainment with her brother, director Adam Shankman. Her producer credits include Rock of Ages with Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand, The Last Song, Going the Distance, 17 Again, Premonition, Bedtime Stories, Hairspray, The Pacifier, all three of the Step Up movies, She's All That and The Wedding Planner. She currently lives in California with her husband and two children.
8. Etan Coen
Etan Coen was born in Jerusalem, Israel and became a screenwriter in the United States after graduating from Harvard, where he wrote for the Harvard Lampoon, the student humor magazine. He has written scripts for numerous popular TV series and feature films, including Beavis and Butthead, Recess, King of the Hill, American Dad and Idiocracy. In 2008 he co-wrote the script for the action-comedy film Tropic Thunder, along with Ben Stiller and Justin Theroux. He also wrote the script for Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, and is currently working on the scripts for the films Men in Black 3, Candy Land, The Fiancé and Project A.
9. Michael A. Helfant
Michael A. Helfant is co-founder of Troika Pictures, LLC and former President and COO of Marvel Studios, where he launched such films as Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk and Spider-Man 3. He has also served as the Senior Executive Vice President of Iramax/Dimension Films, overseeing the SPY Kids, Scream and Scary Movie film franchises. He has also produced feature films that include Beyond a Reasonable Doubt and The Associate. He currently serves on the advisory boards of various entertainment companies, charities and non-profit organizations. He is a graduate of the JD/MBA program at UCLA and taught entertainment strategy and at the UCLA Anderson School of Management.
10. Jeremy Garelick
Jeremy Garelick is a screenwriter famous for the hit comedy films The Break-Up and The Hangover. He is currently in the process of debuting a career in directing, and is working on a few films including an adaptation of the TV series Baywatch, Hassle Man, An Ex to Grind, starring Cameron Diaz, and The Insane Laws, a film based on his own experience dating his wife.
11. Brian Udovich
Brian Udovich is a producer and former Senior Business Consultant in telecommunications for the French firm Cap Gemini. His films include The Wackness, A Necessary Death, South of Heaven and All the Boys Love Mandy Lane. He has a master’s degree from the American Film Institute, is a graduate of Illinois Wesleyan University and currently resides in Los Angeles.
12. Richard Benjamin
Richard Benjamin is an actor and director who first entered Hollywood starring in the cult TV series He & She, where he also met his wife, actress Paula Prentiss. He went on to star in many other popular films and TV series, including Goodbye, Columbus, Diary of a Mad Housewife, Westworld, Catch-22, Woody Allen's Deconstructing Harry, Pushing Daisies, and The Sunshine Boys, for which he won a Golden Globe award. He turned to directing with the hit comedy My Favorite Year, and went on to direct a number of Hollywood films, including City Heat with Clint Eastwood, The Money Pit with Tom Hanks and Mermaids with Cher, most recently directing A Little Thing Called Murder in 2006. He studied theater at Northwestern University and currently lives with his wife and their two children.
13. Maria Elena de las Carreras
Maria Elena de las Carreras, MA, Ph.D is a Fulbright scholar and film critic from Argentina. She is a regular collaborator of the Los Angeles, California Latino International Film Festival, the Latin American Cinemateca of Los Angeles, California and the CSUN Cinematheque. She has been a screener of international documentaries for the Sundance Film Festival since 2007, and an accredited journalist at the Berlin Film Festival since 1986. She has published many journalistic articles, scholarly essays and encyclopedia entries, in English and Spanish, and is a visiting professor at Cal State Northridge, Los Angeles, California City College and UCLA.
14. Jonathan Kuntz
Jonathan Kuntz is a film historian and a popular professor at UCLA's School of Theater, Film and Television. As a widely respected expert on Hollywood cinema, he has written articles and conference papers, is known for his encyclopedic knowledge, and has been quoted in the media on topics ranging from celebrity careers to the effects of controversial films on American politics. He did his undergraduate work in psychology at UC Berkeley before earning both a Master in Psychology and a Ph.D. in Film and Television at UCLA.
15. David N. Weiss
David N. Weiss is a screenwriter, and has worked on numerous film projects, including All Dogs go to Heaven, Shrek 2, Clockstoppers, Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, and Rugrats in Paris: The Movie. He has also written for television shows such as Mission Hill and Rugrats. In 2005, he was elected vice president of the Writers Guild of America, West and served for two terms, being elected as secretary-treasurer in 2009. He also travels around the world and speaks about his life. He lives in Los Angeles, California with his wife Eliana and their two children.
16. David Sacks
David Sacks is a television writer and producer, and is credited in The Simpsons, 3rd Rock from the Sun, Malcolm in the Middle, The Tick and Murphy Brown. He began his career in comedy by working as an editor for the Harvard Lampoon, Harvard's student humor magazine, while working on his degree there. He is the co-founder and Senior Lecturer of The Happy Minyan in Los Angeles, California and is co-founder of Jewish Impact Films.
17. Barry Weiss
Barry Weiss is the head of East Coast Operations for the Universal Music Group, having previously served as the Senior Vice President of Animation at Sony Pictures Imageworks, head of the Zomba Label Group, and chairman and CEO of RCA/Jive Label Group of Sony Music Entertainment. Since 1981, he worked with Clive Calder to build Jive Records into a hip hop and rap empire, and had a strong influence on the careers of many famous singers, including Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, 'N Sync, Usher, Justin Timberlake and T-Pain.
18. Gill Dennis
Gill Dennis is a screenwriter who has written several screenplays, including the acclaimed film Walk the Line, about the life of country music star Johnny Cash. He has also directed numerous plays and is a recipient of the Los Angeles, California Critics’ Circle Award for Distinguished Direction. He lives in Portland, Oregon, and currently serves as Master Filmmaker-in-Residence at the American Film Institute Conservatory in Los Angeles.
19. Saul Blinkoff
Saul Blinkoff is a movie director who began his career as an animator for Walt Disney Studios, working on the hit films Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Mulan, Tarzan and Kronk's New Groove, and consulting on the Disney films Tinkerbell, Fox and the Hound II, Brother Bear II, Cinderella II and Dumbo II. He made his directorial debut in 2000 with the hip action-adventure series Spy Groove for MTV, and has directed a number of feature films and high profile national commercials and live action shorts for Academy Award winning producer Rob Fried. Currently, he is developing two original animated features, one with legendary songwriter and music producer Desmond Child and the other with producers Jordan Kerner and Ben Haber.
20. Michael Borkow
Michael Borkow is a television comedy writer and producer who has worked on Malcolm in the Middle, Roseanne, Joey and as executive producer on Friends. He is a Wexner Heritage Foundation Fellow, initiated the Israel Volunteer Corps and lectures to students in both the USA and Israel about his personal experience with Judaism. He graduated from Harvard College and the Columbia University School of Law.
21. Michael Miner
Michael Miner has spent 30 years as a scriptwriter, director and cinematographer of award winning films, as well as director and cameraman of 20 music videos. He won the Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Screenplay for his first script Robocop, and has written many other scripts, including those for Oliver Stone, Sylvester Stallone and Michael Douglas. He is also a professor and has taught screenwriting at many universities and institutes. He earned his BA from the University of California, Riverside, and a Master of Fine Arts in motion picture and television production from UCLA. Every Saturday he mentors incarcerated juveniles in self-expression.
22. Adam Gibgot
Adam Gibgot is a screenwriter and producer who has written numerous TV and film projects for studios such as Disney, New Line Cinema, Castle Rock and Paramount. In television, he has written for NBC, ABC, and is creating a new original series for F/X. He also recently completed his first novel, and is currently living in California with his wife and two children.
23. Stephen Farber
Stephen Farber is one of the country’s leading film critics and historians, and is currently a film critic for The Hollywood Reporter. He has interviewed hundreds of Hollywood industry experts and has written reviews and articles on film for many top national publications, besides writing screenplays and several acclaimed books on film. He is the host and producer of Reel Talk, a syndicated weekend movie review series, has lectured on film at several American universities and international institutes and hosted celebrity tributes at numerous film festivals. He graduated magna cum laude from Amherst College and received an M.A. in English at UC Berkeley and a second M.A. in theater arts at UCLA.
24. Michele Gendelman
Michele Gendelman is a comedy writer, with credits on Newhart, Facts of Life, and Ghost Stories, among many other shows. A part-time professor of screenwriting and film history at Los Angeles, California City College, she also writes animated series for Cartoon Network and PBS. She is married to writer and producer Andrew Guerdat and has two children.
25. Vincent Brook
Vincent Brook is a film editor, screenwriter and professor who currently lectures at UCLA and teaches media, film and cultural studies at USC, California State University, Los Angeles, and Pierce College. He has written numerous articles, anthology essays, and encyclopedia entries on a broad range of film and television subjects, and has authored and edited many books, most recently focusing on Jewish representation in sitcoms. He received a Ph.D. in film and television from UCLA.
26. Michael Karp
Michael Karp is a 25-year veteran of the motion picture industry and has worked as a visual effects artist and VFX cameraman on blockbusters including Titanic, Terminator 2, Apollo 13, X-Men2, Alice in Wonderland and True Lies, as well as the stereoscopic film Journey to the Center of the Earth. He is also an experienced Director of Photography and story development analyst, creates and produces music for television and film, and has received numerous awards for his work, including two Emmys and an Emmy nomination. He is a graduate of Art Center College of Design in Pasadena and a longtime film instructor there.
27. David Lipper
David Lipper is an actor of musical theater and film and a screenwriter. He has starred in such films as The Last Song, Beautiful Boy, The Pacifier, and the TV series Crash and Burn, See Jane Date and Full House. He also coaches and teaches acting workshops at the Ivana Chubbuck Studios. He received his BFA in musical theater at Emerson College and currently resides in Los Angeles.
28. Mitch Julis
Mitch Julis is a prolific film buff, besides being a founding partner, Co-Chairman and Co-CEO of Canyon Partners, LLC, a leading global alternative asset management firm. He graduated magna cum laude from both the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University and Harvard Law School, as well as receiving an MBA from Harvard Business School. He currently lives in Los Angeles, California with his wife Joleen and their four children.
29. Rabbi Joseph Telushkin
Rabbi Joseph Telushkin is a world-renowned author who has published many best-selling books, including Jewish Literacy, the most widely selling book on Judaism for the past two decades. He has been named by Talk Magazine as one of the 50 best speakers in the United States, and his books have inspired State Resolutions and Hollywood television series and films. He was ordained at Yeshiva University and studied Jewish history at Columbia University. He currently serves as spiritual leader of the Synagogue for the Performing Arts in Los Angeles, among other positions, and resides in New York City with his wife Dvorah Menashe and their four children.
30. Jon Erlbaum
Jon Erlbaum is a writer, an innovative leader in Jewish outreach and education, and the Executive Director of The Chevra, an organization that connects young Jewish adults to dynamic Jewish experiences. He writes a popular online series for the Federation’s Men’s Cabinet entitled Edutainment Weekly, and his articles are also featured on various websites and list serves. He has edited three books on contemporary Jewish thought and was recently profiled by Inside Magazine as one of Philly’s 10 most influential Jews under 50.
31. Jackie Engel
Jackie Engel is Director of the Jewish Student Leaders Foundation, runs the PERI internship program, and is a therapist at Neve Yerushalayim. For 2 years she was the resident psychologist on the Today Show, and she ran a private psychology practice in Sydney, Australia. Her specialties are family therapy, youth, self-esteem and stress, and she has done therapeutic work and consultation with hospitals, the police, media personalities and non-profit organizations.
32. Rabbi Shaul Rosenblatt
Rabbi Shaul Rosenblatt is the original founder of the Aish HaTorah branch in the UK, and in 2006 he founded Tikkun, an organization focused on using Jewish wisdom to further emotional well-being. In 2007 he published Finding Light in the Darkness, a book based on his own life experience losing his first wife Ilana to cancer. He received rabbinical ordination from Aish HaTorah in Jerusalem and currently lives in London with his wife Chana and their six children.
33. Rabbi Shalom Denbo
Rabbi Shalom Denbo is the Director of Aish HaTorah’s AEPi Jerusalem Roadtrips and is on the board of international rabbis for the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity. He received his rabbinical ordination from Aish HaTorah in Jerusalem and studied theater and dance at Temple University in Philadelphia. He currently lives with his wife and seven children in Los Angeles.
34. Rebecca Shore
Rebecca Shore is a Jewish educator, relationship coach and artist who speaks to international audiences on such topics as relationships, gender differences and the role of women in Judaism. She studied at Vassar College and received her degree in Psychology from the State University of New York. A native of NY, she now lives in Jerusalem with her husband and family.
35. Rabbi Mark Zelunka
Rabbi Mark Zelunka is the Director of Aish Campus of Toronto. He studied Judaism in Israel, received his rabbinical ordination at Aish HaTorah from Rabbi Noah Weinberg, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from the University of Western Ontario. He currently lives in Toronto with his wife Rachel and their twin children.
36. Rabbi Nachum Braverman
Rabbi Nachum Braverman served for many years as the Educational Director of Aish HaTorah Los Angeles, and is now the Executive Director of Aish HaTorah's Jerusalem Partners, as well as the Executive Director of Academic Exchange's fellowship program in partnership with the Milken Institute, the Yitzhak Rabin Center, and the RAND Corporation. He is the author of The Bible for the Clueless but Curious and Death of Cupid - Reclaiming the Wisdom of Love and Marriage. He studied philosophy at Yale University and lives in Los Angeles, California with his wife Emunah and their children.
37. Rabbi Daniel Rowe
Rabbi Daniel Rowe is the Education Director of Aish HaTorah UK, is considered one of the most dynamic Jewish speakers in the UK, and is an internationally sought after lecturer. He served in the Israeli Defense Forces as a tank driver in the 401st Armored Brigade and received the Outstanding Soldier award. He studied Talmud in Israel for many years and received a BA in philosophy from University College of London, where he was awarded the A.J. Ayer prize for philosophy.
38. Rabbi Moshe Zeldman
Rabbi Moshe Zeldman is the Director of Education at Jerusalem U and an international lecturer on a wide variety of Jewish topics, travelling to speak and consult in such locations as Mexico, Costa Rica, Chile, USA, Canada, Australia, South Africa, England, Ukraine, Poland, . He did his undergraduate work in Artificial Intelligence and Philosophy at the University of Toronto, and received his rabbinic ordination from Aish HaTorah in Jerusalem. He currently lives in Jersualem with his wife and six children.
39. Tali Goldberg
Tali Goldberg is the Director of Israel Programming and Leadership Development at Jerusalem U and a Jewish educator. She teaches for various programs in Jerusalem on the topics of leadership and relationships, and has co-founded multiple non-profits, including GROW in Toronto, and the City Year branch in Los Angeles. She studied English and Developmental studies at the University of South Africa and now lives in Jerusalem with her husband and daughter.
The program is a smashing hit! I've only done one class so far, but the teens love it. I have broken it all up into small classes. Believe it or not, I only had enough time in a 1-hour class to go through the first chapter of the Superheros movie. We spoke about taking responsibility and watched the movie in stages. I put together my own script which made it a seamless class. Your program is unbelievable!!
“I wasn't aware that so much of original hollywood was controlled by Jews!”
Sydney Dratel, Tulane University
“For the first time, I looked at popular movies from a Jewish angle. The movie clips were great and I learned a lot of interesting information that I never knew before!”
Hannah Faiguenbaum, Boston University
“Loved the examples of movies that were shown everything was very clear and interesting”
Hadar Sverdlov, California State University Northridge
“I loved it because not only did it teach so much about what Judaism says about leadership, it gave great insight into movies that surround our culture today, and why we're fascinated with them.”
Samantha Stern, Tulane University
“Before taking this class, I thought that Jewish films were just those like "Fiddler on the Roof." I was definitely wrong. I have learned so much about what it means to watch a "Jewish" movie. Clips from "the Dark Knight" and "The Godfather" proved me wrong! This course opened my eyes to very important lessons that will help me live a better, happier and fuller life.”
Ellie Arbeit , Tulane University
“For people new to Judaism or interested about the faith, this is a great way to learn about it.”
Sophie Cummings , Saint Louis University
“The Cinema: The Jewish Lens class was very informative and gave me a new perspective when watching films. It was nice to see the Jewish context and analyze different genres such as western films, action films and crime dramas through a Jewish Lens. I also thought the interviews with leading Jewish scholars and filmmakers added to the class. I highly recommend it and it felt less like a class and more like watching a behind-the-scenes behind moviemaking.”
Charlotte Anthony, University of Washington Seattle
“The Jewish Lens course was an amazing opportunity to learn about the role Judaism plays in cinema. The lectures were interesting and engaging while also extremely informative.”
Margaux Hyman, Tulane University
“I loved it because it makes me look at judaism from another perspective, from the movie perspective. I never realized or thought how much film has influence on judaism in the world. The class made me as my self how much is my life experience and me as a person makes me jewish”
Hile Elster, Tulane University