Inglourious Basterds

New films like Inglourious Basterds, Waltz With Bashir and Defiance change the face of Jewish film.

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The Israeli friends I went to Defiance with seemed to know this. When we left the theater, the mood was somber, reflective and circumspect. It is not often that you see Jews on screen with the power to defend themselves, and to kill. (Ah yes, I like this much better. Thanks!) For me, the lone American, this felt like a fantasy, even a fairy tale. For them, it hit closer to home and begged the question: does power always have a price?

It's a question that's easier to ask than answer. But Defiance may, in the end, provide its own answer. At the makeshift funeral of two partisans, the rabbi-cum-teacher of the community offering blessings over the dead riffed this prayer, likely based on Kadya Molodowsky's 1945 Yiddish poem "El Khanun": "We have no more blood. Choose another people. Sanctify another land. Choose another people. Take back the gift of our holiness. Amen."

It took everything we had not to say Amen

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Jordie Gerson

Jordie Gerson is a newly ordained rabbi and a freelance writer living in Brooklyn.