TELLING JEWISH STORIES
Over the years, I've published a few essays on why I tell Jewish stories - or, specifically, why I believe diverse Jewish narrative is so important. Here's the very short version - "on one foot", as we say:
Anti-Semitism (in whatever form it takes) is an opposition to a Judaism that's seen through a very narrow, constricted lens. As storytellers, we have the power to fight anti-Semitism by broadening that view. This means not only telling Jewish stories, but telling them in ways that are new, that challenge conventions.
My own films, books and screenplays do this by telling stories about Sephardi Jews, about Jewish pirates, about Jews in the Wild West... I don't always write about Jews, but when I do, I break molds.
On this page, you'll find several essays I've written on the topic of Jewish narrative and its role in expanding Jewish identity in popular culture. Below that, links to some of the Jewish content I've created. Enjoy!
SCRIBBLING OUTSIDE THE LINES WITH JEWISH PIRATES AND RABBIS IN THE OLD WEST
THE BLACK LIST BLOGS: WHY WE WRITE
September 23, 2020
"When Hollywood tells its occasional Jewish story, it paints a very specific picture of what a Jew looks like, sounds like and thinks. From THE JAZZ SINGER to AMERICAN PICKLE, we’re all from Eastern Europe, struggling with an oppressive religious tradition, trying to mask our anxieties with a self-deprecating sense of humor or an instinct for entertainment. It’s a woefully incomplete picture."
SOON BY YOU? NOT SOON ENOUGH - ON THE NEED FOR MORE JEWISH MEDIA WITH POP SENSIBILITIES
THE TIMES OF ISRAEL BLOGS
December 15, 2016
"Re-telling the typical pop-cultural Jewsih story doesn’t help to address this problem. Another secular Ashkenazi intellectual on the screen (or another impenetrable Hassid) simply leaves the same gaps open for anti-Semitic narratives to fill-in. We need a diversity of Jewish narratives, Jewish characters that fall outside of the pop-cultural expectations, to counter the anti-Semitic narrative. In other words, we need to fill in the gaps in pop-culture’s idea of “Jewishness” so there’s no room for the anti-Semitic counternarrative to penetrate."
RECLAIMING A JEWISH NARRATIVE IN THE FACE OF ANTI-SEMITISM
THE TIMES OF ISRAEL BLOGS
November 14, 2016
"People don’t know Jews, so they build their opinions around a rickety framework of pop-cultural narrative, which is too narrow. There’s a natural human urge to fill in the gaps, to give more dimension to the two-dimensional characters people tend to encounter. That’s where the shadow narratives go to work. Anything that the media doesn’t provide, the shadow narrative fills-in."
A Selection of Jewish-Themed Films, Videos and Books
THE PIRATE CAPTAIN TOLEDANO
The award-winning short film about Jewish pirates in the Caribbean.
The film, available on Amazon Prime, Chaiflicks.com and other streaming platforms, is the first of its kind to depict refugees from the Spanish Inquisition who took to piracy on the high seas to escape persecution.
BEN MORTARA and the THIEVES of the GOLDEN TABLE
A 4-issue comic book series from Maggid Comics and Source Point Press
A Jewish comedy webseries from comedian Mendy Pellin
I produced much of the successful (but short-lived) series, and directed these episodes.