Tag Archives: Jerusalem

The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem Series One Review

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 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.

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Filed under Books, History, Judaism, Netflix, Politics

The World Didn’t Care Then & They Don’t Care Now: The Anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and the Destruction of the Al Aqsa Mosque

Silence speaks volumes and actions speak louder than words. People can say whatever they want, but words mean nothing.

Tuesday was the 79th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. When the world turned its back on Europe’s Jews, it gave the Nazis carte blanche permission to persecute, starve, torture, and murder my Jewish brethren. The only way we could survive is if we saved ourselves. It was a f*ck you to those who decided that we were not worth fighting for.

In the years since then, Jews (and Israel by extension) have had to keep the figurative middle finger raised. Because once again, we have been told by actions that we should remain sheep to the slaughter.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I believe in the sacredness of the sites and the holidays within my faith. Earlier today, militant Palestinians decided that one of the holiest sites in Islam, the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, was to be used not as a site of prayer, but of a battle. This is during Ramadan, which I think deserves a little more respect. Not only did they attempt to physically destroy the building, but they used it as a base to attack innocent people.

In my mind, that is akin to Jewish worshippers destroying the Western Wall during Yom Kippur to spite our neighbors. It is something I cannot comprehend.

Given that the basic concept of Jewish history is that we are still here despite many attempts at assimilation and extermination, I personally think that it’s time to not give a shit. If living means fighting for ourselves when no one else will, so be it.

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Throwback Thursday: To Die in Jerusalem (2007)

When we go to war, it is not the old we sent into battle. It is the young ones who put their lives on the line.

The 2007 short film, To Die in Jerusalem, is the story of two young lives cut short by hate, war, and unending conflict. In 2002, Rachel Levy was was a 17 year old Jewish girl living in Jerusalem. She died at the hands of Palestinian suicide bomber. The person who killed her was a 17 year old Palestinian Muslim girl, Ayat al-Akhras.

When we talk about this conflict, we don’t discuss it on a human level. By making the story about two families, two young girls taken at the prime of their lives and two mothers looking for answers, it becomes personal and down to earth. The audience does not see an argument that is complicated and misunderstood. They see the ordinariness of the subjects and hopefully understand they are no different than anyone else.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Jerusalem: City of Faith and Fury Review

In the Jewish faith, Psalm 137 has the following lines:

“If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget [her cunning]/ If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.”

The new six part CNN miniseries, Jerusalem: City of Faith and Fury premiered last night. Over the course of the six episodes Sundays, the program tells the story of the city of Jerusalem via six key battles that changed the fate of the city and the region. Combining re-enactments with interviews with historians and Jewish, Christian, and Muslim scholars, the viewer is given a 360 degree picture of it’s past, it’s present, and perhaps, a glimpse of its future.

The first episode focused on the glory days of King Saul, King David, and the downfall of ancient Israel after the death of King Solomon. I enjoyed the first episode. If nothing else, it proved that humanity has not changed one bit. Externally, the world may look different, but inside, it is the same as it ever was. It is also, I think a pathway to understanding what has come before us so we can create a better world for future generations.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Jerusalem: City of Faith and Fury airs on CNN on Sunday night at 10PM.

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Rockets Were Fired at Israel Today

I want you to imagine the following: you live in a neighborhood in which your neighbors at best tolerate you and at worst, call for your death. When you are attacked and you defend yourself, you are accused of being a bully.

This is the situation today in Israel. Rockets were fired into civilian populations in Jerusalem and Southern Israel from the Gaza strip.

I could write about this topic until I am blue in the face. I could write a dissertation if I was so inclined. Instead, I will let Hananya Nafatali explain why real peace in this region of the world has yet to exist.

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Is the Newfound Peace in the Middle East Enough to Sway the Election?

Peace in the Middle East has been the wish of many for generations. The problem is that it is not as simple as it sounds.

In the past two years, you know who declared Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Then there were peace agreements with the UAE, Oman, and Bahrain.

Now it seems that is maybe a reality, thanks to you know who. But two questions come up. Does he genuinely believe in what he is doing? Or, is this just another ploy to win votes?

A part of me would like to believe that these peace deals were achieved because he genuinely wanted to see these countries work with one another. But I know better. After nearly four years in office, he has yet to prove that he can see beyond number one. He has even admitted that the move to Jerusalem was only to gain support from the Evangelical Christians.

Only time will tell of these peace deals will help in November. The only thing that I know is that I don’t trust him and will not be voting for him.

#BidenHarris2020

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Thoughts On Yom Haatzmaut

Earlier this week was Israeli Independence Day or Yom Haatzmaut.

I don’t want to tell you about the Israel that you see on the news. We all get enough of that when we turn on our televisions or open the local newspaper. I want to tell you about Israel that I have been to and I hope that one day, you will visit Israel for yourself.

Foodies will be in high heaven when they visit Israel. There are more than enough options to please any palate (vegan included). I haven’t been to Israel since 2005, but my mouth waters at the memory of some of the food that was consumed.

There is nothing like a home-cooked Bedouin meal with bread fresh from the oven.
If hospitality means good food, the Druze homeowners who invited American strangers into their homes for a meal understood the meaning of the word.

The beaches in Tel Aviv are some of the most beautiful beaches on earth.

Putting my toes into the Mediterranean was heaven, given that I was visiting when the East Coast was experiencing the usual cold January weather.

If there is one place that you visit in Israel, I recommend that you go to the Dead Sea. Besides the skin-nourishing mud, floating in the Dead Sea is an experience that you must have for yourself.

And finally, for the history buff, Jerusalem is the ultimate one-two punch of history and the modern world. One cannot help but see where the past and the present collide.

Jerusalem, if I forget you….
Jerusalem, where the past and the present collide.

Happy 71st birthday, Israel. May you have 71 more.

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Bibi: The Turbulent Life and Times of Benjamin Netanyahu Book Review

Any politician that climbs the political ladder will no doubt have a controversy or two attached to their name. Benjamin Netanyahu, also known as Bibi, is the Prime Minister of Israel.

Earlier this year writer Anshel Pfeffer published a biography of Benjamin Netanyahu entitled Bibi: The Turbulent Life and Times of Benjamin Netanyahu.  Netanyahu is the first Israeli Prime Minister to be born after the state of Israel was created in 1948. Born in Jerusalem and partially raised in the United States, Netanyahu is used to political controversy. A political animal who learned his political lessons in both Israel and the United States, the author argues that not only is his subject’s political career will soon be in pieces, but that modern Israel, for better or for worse, is defined by his leadership.

This book is part biography, part analysis of the subject’s political career. I think this book is an important read, especially if one is interested in world politics. It shows that a politician is a politician or a politician, regardless of the country they lead.

I recommend it.

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Thoughts On Israel’s 70th Birthday And The Opening Of The US Embassy In Jerusalem

 

Today is the 70th birthday of the modern state of Israel. It was also the unveiling of the new US embassy in Jerusalem.

I love Israel. It is a beautiful country with warm, giving people and some of the best food I’ve ever eaten.

But even with that, I have concerns the new embassy. Not about the embassy, it should be in the Jerusalem. It is after all the Israeli capital city. In most countries, foreign embassies are usually found in the capital city.

I have a feeling that you  know who made the decision not because it is the right thing to do, but to appeal to his base. Many in his base (i.e. the right-wing Evangelicals) believe that the modern rebirth of Israel is the start of a new era that ends with all non-believers and non-converts dying and not going to heaven.

And of course, the day would be incomplete without violence from the world’s best crybabies, but I prefer not to focus on them today.

Either way, the fact that Israel is 70 is an amazing feat. Happy 70th birthday Israel!

 

 

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Ten Best Movies Of 2017

2017 is nearly up. Surprisingly, it was a good year for the movies. Below, without further a due, is my top ten list of movies that premiered in 2017.

  1. Star Wars: The Last Jedi: The next chapter in the ongoing saga of the rebellion against the empire was nothing short of perfection.
  2. The Post: The story of the revelation of The Pentagon Papers is as relevant today as it was in 1971.
  3. Beauty And The Beast/The Shape Of Water: Both the live action adaptation of the 1991 animated Beauty And The Beast and The Shape Of Water proves once more that love wins over hate and only through tolerance and respect of others, can we create the world we wish to have.
  4. Darkest Hour: Gary Oldman is sure to win multiple awards playing Winston Churchill, who must decide to negotiate with Germany or go to war.
  5. Lady Macbeth: In 19th century England, a young lady is forced into marriage and has an affair with one of the estate workers.
  6. Lady BirdA gripping and realistic coming of age story set in Sacramento in the early 2000’s.
  7. Thor: Ragnarok: When Thor’s previously unknown sister Hela returns to Asgard, he must save his land and his people from his sister.
  8. Wonder Woman: Wonder Woman finally receives a proper film adaptation. Starring Gal Gadot and directed by Patty Jenkins, this film, well is, a wonder.
  9. The Lovers: Tracey Letts and Debra Winger play a married couple who are openly seeing other people, but somehow find the spark has returned to their marriage.
  10. Battle Of The Sexes: The true story of the tennis match between Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King is as much a story about tennis as it is about feminism.

Honorable Mentions:

  • The Big Sick: This unconventional romantic comedy hit both the comedy gut and the heart.
  • The Women’s Balcony: When a new Rabbi takes over an Orthodox temple in Jerusalem, the women stage a coup to get their husbands and their temple back.

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