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Choosing “The Chosen”

On Saturday, February 19, Menorah launches its four-week, four-film series, “Great Books, Great Moves,” featuring exceptional screen adaptations of classic Jewish novels. Each film is preceded by a conversation about the author, the author’s work in general as well as the specific book.

The series begins with Chaim Potok’s “The Chosen.” The choice will not come as a surprise to anyone who read my book, “The Fifty Greatest Jewish Movies,” which ranks “The Chosen” as the best Jewish movie. This excerpt from my book helps explain my reasons for choosing “The Chosen”:

‘The Chosen’ is virtually unique in dealing with divisions within the Jewish world rather than with the conflict between Jews and the hostile host culture….While most Jewish films depict Jewish individuals coping with the demands imposed by the dominant culture, in “The Chosen” this outside world barely exists. The story is set entirely in a Jewish milieu that features a larger, more secular and assimilated Jewish world, and a tight inner circle of Hasidism.

This insightful and terrifically enjoyable adaptation also encompasses most of the major themes of 20th century Jewish life, including assimilation, the founding of Israel, the Holocaust, family bonds, the struggle to create a balance between personal autonomy and cultural connection, the importance of tradition in a changing world, and the transmission of positive Jewish values from one generation to the next. ‘The Chosen’ is also one of the only Jewish films to deal meaningfully with religious and spiritual matters, all of which are factors in its number one ranking.”

We invite viewers to judge for themselves as we present this under-rated 1981 film starring Rod Steiger, Robby Benson, Barry Miller and Maximilian Schell, directed by Jeremy Paul Kagan.

The optional discussion begins at 7 and the film will be screened at 8 pm. Tickets are $15 for lecture, film and refreshments; $10 for film only. RSVPs are appreciated but not required.

And on Saturday, February 26, CU Professor Robby Adler Peckerar will present the lecture on Isaac Bashevis Singer before the screening of “Enemies, a Love Story.”

About Kathryn Bernheimer

Director of Menorah: Arts, Culture and Education at the Boulder JCC. The former film and theater critic for the Boulder Daily Camera, Kathryn is the author of "The Fifty Greatest Jewish Movies" and "The Fifty Funniest Films of All Time."

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