March 25, 2014 |
Simon Schama, the British historian and television personality and name-in-the-title host of "Simon Schama's History of Britain," "Simon Schama's Power of Art," "Simon Schama's Shakespeare" and "Simon Schama's Obama's America," is back with "Simon Schama's The Story of the Jews. " Premiering Tuesday on PBS, it attempts to distill 3,000 years of Jewish history into five hours of TV and does a fine, if necessarily incomplete, job of it. Like many British documentaries - the series originally aired in September on the BBC - "The Story of the Jews" comes with a personal touch.
March 21, 2014 |
When telling a tale that includes centuries of endurance, moments of triumph, bursts of humor and sudden, unspeakable atrocities, what's the right tone with which to articulate it all? That's the trick historian Simon Schama had to figure out in his new documentary, "The Story of the Jews," which begins in the Middle Eastern desert about 3,000 years ago and tracks up to the more-or-less present. The program, in five hourlong parts, broadcasts on PBS on Tuesday and April 1. "I wanted to say, without putting on a ridiculous smiley face or making light of the tragic aspects, that there is a story to be told beyond one clearly framed by the assumption of catastrophe," the British historian said in Pasadena.
March 14, 2014 |
Whatever you might say about Simon Schama, one of our most prominent and accomplished narrative historians, you can't say he's afraid to tackle broad and challenging subjects. "The Story of the Jews" is the first of a two-volume work aimed at covering 3 millenniums, from 1000 BCE to the present day, with the break coming at 1492 and the expulsion of the Jews from Spain by Ferdinand and Isabella. That's a lot of ground to cover, greater geographically if not in chronological terms than Schama's last multi-volume work, a three-tome "History of Britain" published in 2000-02 that reached all the way back to 3500 BC. Like that work, the scale of "The Story of the Jews" was dictated by the requirement of a television documentary series, scheduled to begin airing on PBS toward the end of this month.
March 13, 2014 |
Ayelet Waldman's "Love and Treasure" (Alfred A. Knopf, $26.95, April 1) is a triptych novel that follows the lives of American and Hungarian Jews across the 20th century. A story of relationships, art and loss, it moves among a granddaughter trying to solve a puzzle, feminists in Budapest between the wars and European Holocaust survivors headed to Palestine. "When my book was being auctioned in Britain, one of the people who didn't bid on it said, 'This book is too Zionist for us.' And then my Israeli publisher, who did end up buying it, was like, 'Man, this is a really anti-Zionist book.' I got those responses the same day," Waldman says via Skype.
March 2, 2014 |
JERUSALEM -- Hundreds of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews rallied in Jerusalem on Sunday to protest emerging legislation that could end their sweeping exemption from military service. The country's capital was paralyzed as access to Jerusalem was blocked. Government offices, schools and courthouses closed early, and public transportation was halted to accommodate the mass prayer called by rabbinical leaders. Under heavy police protection, black hats bobbed as the crowd of demonstrators swayed in prayer or danced to express their opposition to a military draft that many decried as a “war against religion.” In an unusual move, religious women were encouraged to attend the protest, standing separately from the men. For decades, Israel's ultra-Orthodox have been effectively exempt from military service.
February 1, 2014 |
When the Skirball Cultural Center launched its Latin Jewish film series seven years ago, it caught some members of both ethnic groups by surprise. "People acted just shocked that there were Jews south of the border," said Jordan Peimer, the Skirball's director of programs. Today, that idea isn't likely to startle Skirball regulars. Over the years, the series, which was initially funded by the Irvine Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, has exposed filmgoers to the Jews of Cuba (the documentary "Jubanos")