On Monday, January 29, an act in memory of the victims of the Nazi Holocaust took place in the Senate of Madrid. The Act was chaired by D.Pío García Escudero, President of the Senate, and some of the speakers were, in addition to Mr.Escudero himself, the President of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain, the Chief Rabbi of Spain -Rab Moshe Bendahan-, The Minister of Justice of the Spanish Government, Mr. Rafael Catalá, the Director of the Institute of Gypsy Culture and the President of the Amical Association Mathausen.
Six candles were lit on the spot by representatives of the different collectives.
The act was emotional and very solemn.
The Academy Awards are rapidly approaching, and many people are curious about the films on this year’s short lists. This Oscar season’s short lists are filled with films that feature a diverse crop of directors, actors and plotlines. Some of this season’s best, however, are films with Jewish themes. Here are the top five Jewish films to watch this Oscar season.
This gut-wrenching film deals with a variety of heavy topics including the grief of parents who lost their soldier son, the joys and challenges of marriage and the boredom of daily life in the army. Directed by Samuel Moaz, “Foxtrot” was named the second-best film at the Venice International Film Festival and is on the shortlist for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards. “Foxtrot” also won the award for Best Film at Israel’s Ophir Awards despite generating controversy in Israel over the film’s portrayal of Israeli control of the West Bank.
“Foxtrot” follows an affluent Tel Aviv couple who learn that their son has been killed in the line of duty. The film stars Lior Ashkenazi and Sarah Adler, and it opens in U.S. theaters on March 2, 2018.
“In the Fade”
Directed by Fatih Akin, this German film dramatizes the rise of neo-Nazism through the murder of Nuri and Rocco Sekerci, a Kurdish man and his small son. Katja Sekerci, the surviving widow, pursues revenge against the neo-Nazis who murdered her family. The film won Best Foreign Language Film at the Golden Globes and is shortlisted for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars.
“In the Land of Pomegranates”
This documentary follows a mix of young Israeli and Palestinian men and women who are brought together in a scenic German town. The Israelis and Palestinians live under the same roof, go on joint excursions in the countryside, take a riverboat cruise and argue for hours on end as part of a program called “Vacation from War.” This program began in 2002 and aims “not to make participants love each other [but if] only five people change their attitudes…that’s progress.”
“In the Land of Pomegranates” uses the arguments between the program participants to explore the chasm between young Israelis and Palestinians. Directed by Hava Kohav Beller, the young Israelis’ and Palestinians’ arguments are set against the backdrop of the contradictory meanings of the word “pomegranate” in Hebrew: “fruit” and “hand grenade.”
“The Number on Great-Grandpa’s Arm”
Few people have managed to find ways to teach young children about the Holocaust, but this short documentary attempts to tackle the issue. In “The Number on Great-Grandpa’s Arm,” 10 year old Elliot asks his great-grandfather, Jack Feldman, about the Holocaust. Feldman, a Holocaust survivor, opens up to his American-born great-grandson about his experiences. The goal of the film was to transmit Feldman’s experience “gently and with clarity.” The documentary will premier on HBO on January 27, 2018, International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
This documentary is on the Oscar shortlist for Best Short Documentary and gives a behind-the-scenes look at filming a Holocaust survivor’s testimony. Specifically, it focuses on how filmmakers worked to preserve the memories of Anne Frank’s surviving stepsister, Eva Schloss, in the form of an interactive, holographic image.
Oscar season always brings new documentaries and foreign films into the American limelight. People spend days watching and discussing films on the short-list, and almost everyone has an opinion about which film should win the award. So, what do you think? Which of these Jewish films is your favorite?
Throughout our history, the Yehudim have overcome all obstacles to observe the Mitzvah of the Sukkah. But perhaps one of the most striking examples of the Jewish people’s love and determination for this precept is the Sukkah that was built in the prisons of the Inquisition of Mexico City in 1603 by a crypto-Jewish man named Sebastian Rodriguez.
MR. ELI SULI
Sebastián was born in Portugal in 1573, in a town called San Vicente Davera, but left his house at the age of seven, to move to Seville (Spain), where he worked in the shop of his uncle Antonio Rodríguez, who had taught him to read and write.
At the age of fourteen, in 1587, he embarked for New Spain (former name of Mexico) and settled in the city of Puebla, in the house of a distant relative, also Portuguese, named Guillermo Rodríguez, the which sent him to nearby villages to sell clothes. At sixteen he became independent and began to work on his own.
At the age of eighteen, he married his cousin Constanza Rodriguez, who was seven years his senior. Prior to the wedding, his brother-in-law Domingo Rodríguez and Manuel de Lucena took Sebastián to the countryside and taught him many of the Torah’s Halajot (laws and traditions) regarding marriage and Jewish life, although he already had some notions of these.
But his principal teachers, from whom he learned the laws of the Torah, were Luis de Carvajal (El Mozo) and Sebastián de la Peña. During long walks in company of their teachers, they analyzed the different passages of the Torah together. Luis de Carvajal, always had hidden between the lining and the felt of his hat, several writings with passages and laws of the Torah, and in that way he could teach them to his students.
In 1596, when he had barely turned twenty-three, and for the accusation of a “Pedro de Reparo” against him, Sebastián Rodríguez was arrested in Mexico City along with his wife Constanza. He was taken to the prisons of the Inquisition in the Plaza Santo Domingo, which today is Donceles and Brazil Street, very close to the current Zócalo. His punishment was life imprisonment, and the confiscation of all his property.
During the first three months of his interrogations, Sebastian kept absolute silence, so they kept him chained to shackles of hands and feet. After those three months of torture, Sebastian confessed that he professed the Law of Moses. It was then that the crickets were removed, and placed in a cell next to Luis Diaz, who operated as a spy for the Inquisition. Luis Diaz, later nicknamed “El Malshín” (informant), informed the inquisitors that his cellmate, Sebastian “judaizaba”, that is: that he did not consume the meat they served him, nor swept the floor of his cell on Saturdays , … who washed his hands before consuming the bread, and who prayed every day eastward toward Jerusalem with his head covered.
As a result of this report, Sebastián was taken to the Inquisitors to declare the truth, but as he denied the accusations that had been imputed to him, he proceeded to torture again. This time with the instrument of torture called “the foal”. After the fifth round of the line, Sebastian declared that he judaizaba (= behaved like Jewish), but that “he repented of having done it”
The party of Sucot (cabins) of 1603 was approaching, and Sebastián Rodríguez, his wife Constanza Rodríguez and his little son Domingo, had been locked up for seven years in the jails of the inquisition known as La Casa Chata.
Sebastian did not want to fail to comply with the biblical precept of celebrating the festival of Sukkot, and therefore, looks for a way to build a Sukkah (hut), in the very courtyard of the jail, in front of the noses of the inquisitors Alonso of Peralta and Gutiérrez Bernardo de Quirós.
The Jewish Community of Madrid has announced that it will award its 2017 Or Januká Award to the State Security Forces and Corps for its defense of democracy and constitutional order and for “their risky work”.
According to a statement, the work of the Security Forces and Corps allows Jewish life in the capital “to develop with total normality and security.”
The Jewish Community of Madrid has also granted the Queen Sofia the Centennial Prize which commemorates a century of the official return of Jewish presence in Madrid since its expulsion in 1492. “This prize is awarded for its dedication to a democratic Spain and for its proximity to Jewish culture, “says the Jewish Community.
This year marks the 525th anniversary of the expulsion of the more than twenty-five Jewish families who lived in Castelló in the 15th century. The lawyer Carmen Félix Roig reviews this historical epoch and highlights the “civism” and “respect” with which the Castellonians treated the Jewish people.
This year marks the 535th anniversary of the expulsion of the Jews in Castelló where, unlike the rest of Spain, they were treated with “civism” and “respect”. The lawyer Carmen Félix Roig makes a tour of this historic stage of the city in which the Castellonians gave a “wonderful lesson.”
Castelló was constituted in aljama from 1306 under the jurisdiction of the justice, as much in civil as in criminal that was established between Jews and Christians. The Jewish quarter was settled on Calle Caballeros and Calle Mealla. The main tax was the “bribe” and had its own cemetery since 1320, located in what is now the Clavé square. “It seems that there is already a Jewish population since the descent of the population Castellon to the plain,” says the lawyer. Thus, in 1371, the Jews installed in Castelló own synagogue, houses, lands and practice the professions of weavers and albarderos. “Despite all its prerogatives, there were always frictions between the royal officials and the Jews,” says the lawyer.
In the summer of 1391 the persecutions against the Jews that began in Seville and that ran like the powder until the July 9 occurred the sacking of the Jewish Quarter of Valencia. However, Roig points out that in Castelló “there was no harm”. “The ‘jurats’ met on 14 July agreeing to defend the Jews in both their persons and their property. We must highlight the civility and respect of the Christian Castellans giving a wonderful lesson. Even so there were conversions and the aljama dissolved, but there were still Jews, “adds the lawyer.
In 1419, King Alfonso the Magnanimous absolved the Jewish aljamas and in their dominions and it exempts to them to dress and to carry badges Jewish by the ways not to be attacked. It also exempts them from dressing the “roda” in the cities “which was very humiliating” and protects them “from all possible abuses”. In addition, “the court of Castelló and the jurats are ordered to allocate a place as wide as possible so that the Jews may live and be able to form their aljama again.”
In 1432 the Jews of Castelló buy a house for the synagogue. Among their privileges they had their own butchery “since they could only eat the meat that the own slaughterer arranged, thereby paying an amount to the king for” fatigue. ” In Spain they had the privilege of collecting taxes by concession of certain municipalities and making loans with interest, “which was forbidden for Christians and Muslims, because it was considered immoral.” “This caused some animosity toward the Jews,” adds the lawyer.
On March 31, 1492, the General Edict of Expulsion was written by the Catholic Monarchs. “All the processes and debts are resolved and more than 25 Jewish families are expelled from Castelló, ending all the Jewish aljama of the city,” he concludes.