His story is both the story of Jews in the 20th century and Israel as we know it to be today. He faced political challenges that are universal and unique to the region. Above all, he believed that peace and co-existence with the nation’s Arab neighbors are not unattainable goals. Though they were not achieved within his lifetime, Peres opened the door for future generations of Israeli leadership to follow in his footsteps.
Narrated by George Clooney, this narrative is about a dreamer who was also realistic. Peres knew what he wanted the future to look like. At the same time, he understood that it would take work, courage, and being open to new possibilities to get the job done.
What I took away from the film was that dreaming is a good thing. But without getting your hands figuratively dirty, the image in your mind will remain just that. That inspiration crosses all boundaries and perhaps provides the lift we need to get off our buts and do what we need to do.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely.
Never Stop Dreaming: The Life and Legacy of Shimon Peres is available for streaming on Netflix.
Family is complicated. Marriage is complicated. We can only do our best and hope that it is good enough.
The new Netflix series, The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem, is based on the novel, The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem: A Novel, by Sarit Yishai-Levi. The first half of the first series is set in the 1920s and 1930s. It follows the women of the Ermoza family, a Sephardi Jewish family living in Jerusalem. Gabriel (Michael Aloni) is in love with another woman but is forced to marry Roza (Hila Saada), by his mother Merkada (Irit Kaplan). He tries to be a good husband and father but is not exactly dedicated to his family. Almost twenty years later, their eldest daughter, Luna (Swell Ariel Or) is growing up in a time of political tension and struggle.
I don’t recall if I read the book, but the first series is fantastic. Set against the backdrop of British-controlled Palestine (i.e. pre-1948 Israel), the emotional conflicts within the Ermoza family collide with the heady and complicated world events of the era. It is fantastic, immediately grabs the viewer, and does not let go until the final credits roll. If nothing else, it reveals a side of history in this region that is not often talked about in the mainstream press.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely.
The first season of The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem is available for streaming on Netflix.
P.S. The second season is scheduled to be released sometime in July. I eagerly await its arrival.
Though sex and sexuality is part and parcel of human nature, it is often viewed as something dangerous and wrong.
For decades, Dr. Ruth Westheimer (aka Dr. Ruth), has been America’s sex therapist. The 2019 Hulu documentary movie, Ask Dr. Ruth, tells her story. Born in 1928 to an Orthodox Jewish family in Germany, everything was normal for the first ten years of her life. When it became clear that being a Jew in Germany was dangerous, Ruth (then known by her first name, Karola) was sent to Switzerland on the Kindertransport.
At the age of 17, she emigrated to what was then British controlled Palestine (pre-Independence Israel) and joined the Haganah. Years later, she again emigrated to the United States. Living in New York City, she married, raised her two children and became the woman we know her to be today.
The thing I love about her is that at nearly 100 years old, she has the energy of a woman half her age. She represents hope, life, change, and that a woman can never be limited to what she can do because she is “female”. Her presence first on the radio and then on television, helped to open the door to long overdue conversations about sex and sexuality.
There is an old saying “It’s always darkest before the dawn”.
Anita Diament’s 2010 novel, Day After Night is about four young women who survived the Holocaust and how they find the light after the darkness.
In October of 1945, the survivors of the Nazi Holocaust are trying to make their way to what was then British controlled Palestine. Many are interned in Atlit Internment Camp, a prison for “illegal immigrants” off the coast of Haifa. There are four main characters: Shayndel, a Polish Zionist, Leonie, who is ashamed of her choices during the war, Tedi, a Dutch Jew who was fortunate to find hiding and Zorah, who lived through the concentration camps.
Haunted by the past and afraid to hope, the women forge a friendship while they try to rebuild their lives in a strange new country that they are ready to call home.
I love this book. While the story and characters are set in a specific time and place, it speaks to all of us. We all have dark times in our life, but there is day after night. We just have to have hope and faith.