Thoughts on Hanukkah in 2021

History is more than a series of dry events written in a book. If we are able to understand what our predecessors have gone through, then perhaps we will finally learn from their actions.

Tonight is the first night of Hanukkah.

One of the things that strikes me this year is that it feels more relevant than ever. With antisemitism on the rise, it’s not difficult to see the parallels between what we are going through in 2021 and the Maccabee’s fight for religious freedom. As the United States is potentially stumbling into autocracy and away from democracy and religious pluralism, this story is more than important than ever.

If you celebrate, wherever you are, have a Happy Hanukkah.

Hallmark Ecards Holiday GIF by Hallmark Gold Crown - Find & Share on GIPHY

The Eternals Movie Review

*This review is strictly based on the movie as I have never read the comic books.

It would be easy to categorize a superhero movie based on a comic book as all action and no heart. But without that heart, it is nothing but a series of fights between the heroes and the villains.

The Eternals hit theaters a few weeks ago. This latest film adaptation from Marvel Comics tells the story of a group of otherwordly beings whose job it is to protect and nuture humanity. The big bad are deviants, creatures who are not selective about who and what they kill. After thousands of years, these alien superheroes have blended into the world around them, looking no different than you or I.

When their leader, Ajak (Salma Hayek) is killed by a deviant, Sersi (Gemma Chan) takes her place and does her best to bring the team back together. But when the secret about the true nature of their mission is revealed, it creates conflict between Sersi, Ikarus (Richard Madden), Thena (Angelina Jolie), Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani), and the rest of the Eternals.

The film clocks in about 2 1/2 hours. Thankfully, it does not feel that long. What I think makes it well done is that the narrative is not just about physical entaglments between the antagonists and the protaganists. There is heart, there is humor, and the message about what it is to be human is threaded throughout the story.

Much has been naturally made about the diversity of the cast. Personally, I think it’s a long time coming. Though I loved Avengers: Endgame, the reality is that the majority of the lead characters are white and male. One could argue that the one scene that all of the female superheroes come together is merely lip service instead of naturally giving these women the spotlight beyond the traditional female narratives.

Including an LGBTQ character, Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry), and a deaf character, Makkari (Lauren Ridloff), was a nice addition. It proved that this world can be open to a wider range of types of people, if only given the chance.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

The Eternals is presently in theaters.

The Sisters of Auschwitz: The True Story of Two Jewish Sisters’ Resistance in the Heart of Nazi Territory Book Review

When one nation or people invades another, the decision to join the resistance is not one to be taken lightly. Knowing that you are constantly at death’s door, it requires a certain kind of bravery that could also be deemed as foolishness.

The Sisters of Auschwitz: The True Story of Two Jewish Sisters’ Resistance in the Heart of Nazi Territory, by Rox­ane van Iperen, was published in August. The book tells the story of two Dutch Jewish sisters, Janny Brilleslijper and Lien Brilleslijper. Less than a year after the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, the lives of the sisters, their family, and every other Jew in the country begins to change for the worst. They have two options. They can either stay where they are and wait for the other shoe to drop. The other choice is to go into hiding and hope that they will all be alive at the end of the war.

The solution is to go into hiding in the woods. Known as “The High Nest“, the property is a safe house for the family, artists, and other resistance fighters. Just as it seems that the Allies are on the verge of taking back Europe, they are betrayed and sent to Auschwitz. Forced onto the train with them is Anne Frank and her family. As the two sets of siblings try to survive, Janny and Lien connect with Anne and her older sister, Margot. Waiting for liberation will test the sisters in every way possible, forcing them to rely on each other and an inner strength that may be the only thing keeping them alive.

When we talk about resistance, the conversation frequently revolves around men. Women are not given their due or an opportunity to tell the story. Having never heard of Janny and Lien Brilleslijper, it was another reminder of how badass Jewish women are. My problem with the book is that I was not feeling the danger and the tension of the narrative. I should have felt the stress and anxiety of what the characters were going through. Ultimately, I didn’t, which is highly dissapointing.

Do I recommend it? Not really.

In Trump’s Shadow: The Battle for 2024 and the Future of the GOP Book Review

Just as in life, there are lessons to be learned in politics. Both the 2016 Presidential election and the 2020 Presidential election, were if nothing else, an eye-opening experience.

In Trump’s Shadow: The Battle for 2024 and the Future of the GOP, by David M. Drucker, was published last month. With you know who finally out of power (thank G-d), the question among members of the GOP is who will replace him? Will it be someone who is a die-hard and will potentially repeat the last four years? Or will it be another person who is a little more particular about the policy decisions they make?

If nothing else, this is a playbook for the 2022 Midterm elections, the 2024 Presidential election, and beyond. This book should be a must-read for every Democrat, both on the individual level and at the highest levels of power. If they are to retain control of both branches of Congress and the White House, they must not only know the other side inside out, but come together. Only then will the rule of law and some version of decency return to this nation.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

%d bloggers like this: