Schindler’s List and Hip-Hop Remembrance

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When I was in Junior Congregation services at OCJCC-BI in Philadelphia, we spent Tisha B’Av — the holiday that’s the anniversary of the Temple’s destruction — watching depressing Jewish videos. Some of them (Shoah) conveyed the appropriate they’re-dead-and-it’s-sad response from my 12-year-old self. Some of them (Schindler’s List — specifically, the scenes of Oskar Schindler in bed with the naked bouncing-breasty women getting all pogo-stick on top of him*) left, uh, a different image in my head.

The London-born, Jerusalem-based poet Danny Raphael just laid down some rhymes of remembrance. It’s only 2 minutes long — and, back in 8th grade, I wasn’t very open to appreciating hip-hop — but I’d like to think that I would’ve appreciated this.

* — It feels like heresy to say, but as a geeky barely-teenage boy who’d just seen Jurassic Park (loved it) and was expecting something I could do a Hebrew School book report on, it was unexpected, to say the least. There was plenty of stuff that depressed and inspired me, as well, but when I left the theater that day, the sole image that stuck with me was not a skeleton-thin man behind a barbed-wire fence but a full-bodied woman who touched off a strange chord of both attraction and haunting in my spread-wide-open impressionable mind.

Now, this isn’t to say that I disapprove or disagree with the film. I think the only people who wouldn’t say Schindler’s List is a work of art are either anti-Semites or jealous (the latter category includes all you film-school  snobs). The most common feedback I get from my book about becoming religious is that it’d be a great story except for all the cursing and sex. Real life is real life, and portrayals of life are going to contain stuff that isn’t exactly ready for prime time. Was I ready for it as a kid? I don’t know. Although, on the other hand, most of my formative life-changing experiences were things I wasn’t ready for. And this would be the footnote that’s longer than my actual blog post.

Posted on July 19, 2010

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