Anyone with an inkling of knowledge of Jewish history knows that it comes down to one phrase: they tried to kill us, we survived, now lets eat”. Though its a joke, the truth behind it is far from funny. Over the millennia, we have been accused of lies, forced to convert and assimilate to survive, persecuted, and murdered.
I loved this book. Pulling no punches, the author knocks the rose colored glasses off the reader’s face. She forces us to take a long and difficult look at the past and how its time to get real. As I see it, we have an opportunity to put to rest the deception that has caused too many generations to suffer for no reason. The question is, are we willing to do so? Or is it easier to just repeat the actions of our predecessors?
Soul: Though it is marketed as a kids movie, the subtext of appreciating life feels appropriate and potent this year.
Mulan: The live-action reboot of the 1998 animated film Mulan rises above its predecessor, making it fresh and relevant.
Emma.: Anya Taylor-Joy stars as Jane Austen‘s eponymous heroine, Emma Woodhouse, introduced as clever, rich, and handsome. Directed by Autumn de Wilde, this adaption is entertaining, funny, and a lovely addition to the list of Austen adaptations.
Portrait of a Lady on Fire: This LBGTQ historical romance between a young woman and the female artist hired to paint her portrait is sweet, romantic, and powerful. It proves once more that love is love is love.
Ordinary Love: Joan (Lesley Manville) and Tom (Liam Neeson) are your average middle-aged couple. When she is diagnosed with Breast Cancer, they both must deal with the rough road ahead.
The Assistant: Jane (Julia Garner) is an assistant to a Harvey Weinstein-esque powerful movie producer. She starts to notice things that don’t sit right with her.
I am Greta: This documentary follows teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg as she advocates for the world to pay serious attention to climate change.
#AnneFrank-Parallel Lives: Narrated by Helen Mirren, this documentary tells not just Anne’s story. It follows other young women who survived the Holocaust. Parallel to the stories of the past, the viewer is traveling with another young woman as she visits different countries in present-day Europe.
To some, the Holocaust is ancient history. In 2020, we have more pressing problems to occupy our time with. But the Holocaust was only 80 years ago, and the issues from that era are as prevalent now as they were then.
#AnneFrank-ParallelStories is one of the newest releases on Netflix. With a voice-over by Helen Mirren, this documentary tells the story of Anne Frank while telling the stories of other women who are among the few to have survived. While Mirren reads from Anne’s diary, the audience follows a young woman as she travels across Europe, asking questions that frankly, need to be asked.
I’ve seen many Holocaust films over the years. What makes it different is that it hard-hitting, emotional, and squarely aimed at the younger viewers. If I have walked away from this movie with one message, it is that we have a chance to ensure that the Holocaust in any variation never happens again. That requires asking difficult questions and learning from the mistakes of our predecessors.
I recommend it.
#AnneFrank-Parallel Lives is available for streaming on Netflix.
I think it is pretty safe to say that in the nearly three weeks since George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis, the world has changed. Across the globe, millions are making their voices heard. George Floyd was one man, but he has come to stand for those who have been killed by hate.
Yesterday would have been Anne Frank‘s 91st birthday. Her diary has been ready by millions of readers over the last 70ish years. Like George Floyd, she has become a symbol of a life cute short by hate.
I keep thinking that if the world had collectively protested in the 1930’s as they do now, would the Holocaust have happened? How many might have survived? Unfortunately, this question can never be answered.
I wish that we lived in a world in which our rights were immediately given to us at birth. I wish that we were not categorized and then based on that category, denied or approved for where we may end up in life. But that is the world we live in. But until that day in which that happens, we must continue to stand up and fight for those rights.
No one goes through life without asking the “what if” question at least once during their lifetime. This question becomes multiplied when it come to war and the loss of life that comes with war.
In the 2013 author Jillian Cantor asked this question in the book, Margot: A Novel.
It’s 1959 in Philadelphia. Margot Frank survived the war and has started a new life as Margie Franklin, living as a Gentile and working in a law firm as a secretary.
Her sister’s diary has become the darling of the publishing world. The movie, based on the book, has just been released into theaters. Margot/Margie’s carefully constructed outer shell begins to crack. While juggling PTSD and survivor’s guilt, Margot/Margie’s past come back to her via a case and an unusually strong emotional bond with her boss.
This book is amazing. When it comes to the story of Anne Frank, her elder sister is often pushed out of the spotlight. In giving Margot the spotlight, Ms. Cantor tells the story of Holocaust survivors who for any number of reasons, choose to keep their pasts to themselves. It is also the story of America in the late 50’s when antisemitism was not as obvious, but still existed beneath the thin veneer of respectability.
For many, Otto Frank is mainly known as the father of Anne Frank. Her diary has been read the world over by multiple generations of readers and has been adapted for the stage and screen numerous times.
In 2003, writer Carol Ann Lee published a biography of Otto Frank entitled The Hidden Life of Otto Frank. The book tells Otto’s story, from his childhood in Germany to the horrors of the Holocaust and finally, the post war years, as his youngest daughter’s diary became a worldwide cultural sensation.
I really enjoyed this biography. I enjoyed because Otto is given the spotlight that he deserves. The book is quite a hefty read in terms of content and length, but it also engaging. Ms. Lee was extremely thorough in her research, telling the story of a man who has become a symbol of an era when hate and prejudice ruled. She also asked the question that many of us have asked over the years: who betrayed Anne, Otto and the rest of the residents of the annex to the Nazis?
Among the 1.5 million children that were killed in the Holocaust, Anne Frank is one of the most famous. Her diary, published after the war has been read by millions of readers over the years. But what if Anne survived?
This is the premise of the new book, Annelies: A Novel, by David R. Gillham. The book starts off just after the end of the war. Anne has survived and made her way back to her father, Otto Frank. Out of the eight people who hid for two years in the annex, they are the only survivors. Though she looks like the same Anne, the horrors she experienced have profoundly affected her psyche and outlook on the world. This creates conflict with her father, who is doing everything he can to return to normal life.
Will Anne be able to find the emotional freedom and security that she once took for granted and more importantly, will her relationship with her father heal?
The reviews on goodreads are mixed. As someone who is familiar with the diary and the person that Anne Frank was, I had to remind myself that this is a work of fiction. This not a non-fiction book. It’s essentially a what-if narrative, using what is known about Anne and those around her to tell a new story. In my opinion, Mr. Gillham should be given some slack and be allowed to use creative license while drawing on documented facts about his subject.
Anne Frank is many things to many people, depending on whom one talks to. She was an ordinary teenage girl who went through the changes that we all went through at that age. She was a budding writer whose literary skills showed promise. She is an icon not just for the 1.5 million Jewish children who were slaughtered in The Holocaust, but for children around the world who are living and dying in war zones today. She is reminder of what hate and prejudice can do when we are blind to the humanity of our fellow mortals.
But the question is, who owns Anne’s likeness and more importantly, who owns how she is represented to the world? This question is answered in the new book, The Phenomenon of Anne Frank. Written by David Barnouw and edited by Jeanette K. Ringold, the book traces the history of Anne’s story from an ordinary teenage girl who was murdered because she was Jewish to an international icon who represents so much to so many.
The premise of this book sounded promising. However, it was a bit too scholarly and dry for my taste.
The shooting that left 11 people dead in the Tree Of Life Synagogue its Pittsburgh on Saturday morning was a heartbreaking reminder that hate and prejudice still have a place in our society.
But in spite of that hate, there are still people in this world who see past labels and see the person.
Last night, I received a phone call from a former colleague who is Catholic. She expressed her condolences about the shooting. The reaction from my friends (most of whom are not Jewish) on Facebook was nothing but supportive and loving.
Yesterday, there was a story on Mashable that Muslim activists have raised more than $50,000 to help the loved ones of the victims pay for the funerals and to provide financial support to those who are still in the hospital.
Anne Frank lived through and died during the most inhuman period of human history. But even with all of the death, hatred and destruction that was her normal, she never gave up hope about humanity.
I keep my ideals, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.
This weekend was extremely hard for myself and many others. But we got through it because we were wrapped in love and support. While we cannot bring back the 11 people who were murdered on Saturday, we can heal. We can live in peace and we can love one another, in spite of our differences.
Today is Anne Frank’s birthday. One of the millions of Jewish children that were murdered in the Holocaust because they were Jewish, her legacy is that of hope, love and our shared humanity.
Last week I had a very interesting conversation.
I was talking to a friend from my martial arts school who is Muslim and in the middle of celebrating Ramadan. We were comparing the differences between Ramadan and Yom Kippur. While there are some differences between the two holidays, there are is one major similarity: devotion to G-d. Both holidays require fasting, which as anyone who has fasted can tell you it is not easy. What comes with the fasting is believing in and praying to a higher being who I believe is akin to a third parent. While our religious practices and beliefs differ, we still believe in a higher power and we still follow the same ancient traditions that our families have practiced for thousands of years. We were able to have a conversation about our individual religions that was just that.
And now to the reason for this post: the horrific shooting at the nightclub in Orlando. We are all G-d’s children, made in the image of our creator. The only reason the patrons of this nightclub were targeted is because they are gay. My heart breaks for everyone involved. This is not the America that I know, love and believe in. Today I pray for the victims and their families. I also pray for America, that we should learn from this tragedy and get over the b*llsh*t that says we are different due to an accident of birth. We are all human beings and deserve the same respect.