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The best of the New York Jewish Film Festival + the Resistance fighter who invented the abortion pill

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Our critics have been busy inhaling this year’s New York Jewish Film Festival, which ends Monday. Here are some of the films capturing their imaginations:


Charlotte Salomon: Life and the Maiden: Salomon, who died in Auschwitz at age 26, may be the greatest (and most scandalous) Jewish artist you’ve never heard of. This new film makes some perplexing omissions, our Mira Fox notes — primarily about Salomon’s confession that she murdered her grandfather. But seen as a work that’s “less movie, more state-of-the-art installation technique,” Fox writes, it lets viewers access Salomon’s work “the way she, perhaps, imagined it.” Read the story ➤


Where Life Begins: A love story set on an Italian etrog farm might sound idyllic. But in the hands of French director Stéphane Freiss, that blissful premise yields a moving tale about faith and family, and what it means to consider leaving them behind. It makes for, Fox writes, “a standout among contemporary portrayals of Hasidism.” Read the story ➤


SHTTL: Paradoxical as it may seem, this is a Holocaust movie about life, not death, writes contributor Velvl Baxter: It depicts “the Eastern European Jewish world on the day before it disappeared.” And it’s remarkable for the unsentimental realism it brings to that lost world. “The shtetl community is portrayed not as a cartoonishly monolithic stereotype, but as it really was,” Baxter writes. Read the story ➤



Rep. Santos in the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 5, 2023. (Getty Images)

ICYMI: George Santos’ latest doozy — records show his mom wasn’t in NYC on 9/11. Our contributor Andrew Silverstein broke news of immigration documents showing that Santos’ late mother, Fatima A.C.H. Devolder, was last in the United States in 1999. That puts the lie to Santos’ claim, shared on his official campaign website, that his mother was in the World Trade Center on 9/11. The scoop was cited by the Washington Post and The New York Times. Read our story ➤


An indecent exposure online exposes controversy in the Orthodox world. Adina Miles-Sash, an Orthodox influencer who posts as @flatbushgirl, was hosting a live conversation on Instagram about unplanned pregnancies when an account she thought belonged to a friend asked to share their screen. But it wasn’t her friend — it was a naked man, exposing his genitals. Rabbis and other Jewish influencers have offered Miles-Sash public support, but she’s also received messages blaming her for provoking the disruption with her unorthodox views. Read the story ➤


They projected a swastika on a building in Florida. Here’s why they weren’t arrested. As we reported in yesterday’s Forwarding, a spate of recent antisemitic incidents in Florida have all shared a new twist: using a projector to flash hateful images rather than using paint or other more permanent means. Now, lawmakers in Jacksonville, which has been particularly hard hit, are trying to close a legal loophole that doesn’t count such impermanent images as vandalism. One city council member said the new bill would “give some teeth” to penalties for antisemitic projections. Read the story ➤


But wait, there’s more …


• Benjamin Ferencz, the last surviving Nuremberg prosecutor, was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.


• Jewish baseball fans were sent into a frenzy by news that Team Israel had considered drafting a White Sox star for the World Baseball Classic. Here’s what we know about his Jewish heritage.


• Rep. Michael Lawler, a first-term Republican from New York’s Hudson Valley, told our Jacob Kornbluh that one of his top priorities on the House Foreign Affairs Committee will be strengthening the U.S.-Israel relationship




Shas leader Aryeh Deri with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Ronen Zvulun/Getty)

🇮🇱  Israel’s High Court disqualified a key Netanyahu ally from serving as a minister. Aryeh Deri, chair of the Shas party and newly-appointed interior and health minister, was convicted of tax fraud last year. The court decision sent shockwaves through Netanyahu’s governing coalition, with another Shas minister saying that “there will be no government” without Deri. (Washington Post)


🙄  From the department of “I do not think those words mean what you think they mean:” Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said Western efforts to solve “the Russian question” were akin to Nazi’s plans for a “‘final’ solution to the Jewish question” during the Holocaust. This is the same man who sparked international outrage last year by claiming Hitler had “Jewish blood.” (Reuters)


😡  From the department of “really guys, one bad Nazi comparison a day is enough:” former President Donald Trump compared the FBI’s 2022 raid of his Mar-a-Lago club to the Gestapo. Trump allies began using that analogy shortly after the raid, prompting a rebuke from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. (Twitter, Insider)


👀  Update: George Washington University announced it would investigate the complaint we noted in Friday’s newsletter accusing a professor of antisemitism. The complaint, filed by the pro-Israel watchdog StandWithUs last week, says that the professor, Lara Sheehi, told one student “It’s not your fault you were born in Israel,” and accused students who complained about a guest lecturer’s controversial statements on Israel of being Islamaphobic. (JTA)


🖼️  Descendants of a German-Jewish banker are suing over a Van Gogh painting they say their family sold under duress under the Nazi regime. The heirs of Paul von Mendelssohn-Bartholdy say he was forced to sell one of Van Gogh’s renowned “Sunflower” paintings in 1934, after restrictions imposed by the Reich crippled him financially. (JTA


👏  The National Jewish Book Awards gave its top prize to a book about Black Jewish identity. Michael Twitty’s “Koshersoul,” a memoir and reflection on the foodways of Jews and African Americans, was named Jewish book of the year for 2022 — the first book by a Black American Jew to win the award. (JTA, Twitter)


😮  Meet the inventor of the abortion pill, who was a teenage gunrunner for the French Resistance during World War II and keeps works by Maimonides on his bookshelf. Étienne-Émile Baulieu faced comparisons to, you guessed it, the Holocaust, when he debuted his invention, including the accusation during a TV debate that it would “kill more human beings than Hitler, Mao Zedong and Stalin combined.”“You can’t say it’s like Hitler,” Dr. Baulieu exclaimed. “Don’t say things that would make me laugh if this weren’t a serious debate.” (New York Times)


Shiva call ➤  Zigi Shipper, Holocaust survivor and proponent of Holocaust education in the U.K., died at 93.


What else we’re reading ➤  Surprise: no Jewish orphans seeking to study aeronautical engineering have ever applied for this scholarship for Jewish orphans to study aeronautical engineering … A new era dawns for Julia Louis-Dreyfus … In Brooklyn, gyms teach Jews to fight back

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The Three Stooges — from left: Larry Fine, Shemp Howard and his brother Moe. (Getty Images)

On this day in history (1940): The Three Stooges released You Nazty Spy!, a short film satirizing the Nazis. It was a particularly potent topic for the group, and marked the first time an American comedian took on the role of Hitler on screen. “Moe’s nonsense jabber imitating Der Fuehrer’s oratory” — jabber that included a fair amount of Yiddish — made for a “devastating effrontery” to Hitler’s image, the Forward’s Benjamin Ivry wrote last year.


In honor of National Popcorn Day, meet the Jewish man who introduced popcorn to movie theaters.





On the subject of devastating effronteries to the powerful, Mel Brooks’ “History of the World, Part II” debuts March 6. The newly-released trailer for the eight-episode follow-up to Brooks’ beloved 1981 film “History of the World, Part I” skewers the likes Jesus, Judas and Noah — played by Seth Rogen, natch. Plus: Sigmund Freud and an anonymous man who, faced with the wrong end of a crossbow, screams “oy gevalt.” We can hardly wait. 


Thanks to Benyamin Cohen for contributing to today’s newsletter.

You can reach the “Forwarding” team at


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