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The Grammys and the High Priest – Feb 15th, 2019 Sermon

The Grammys and the High Priest

Shabbat Tetzaveh, Feb. 15, 2019

By Rabbi Boaz D. Heilman

I have an admission to make: I don’t watch the Grammys. I don’t watch the Oscars. I don’t watch any of the countless other awards show that are such a staple of America’s entertainment industry. It isn’t that I am an elitist, though some might think otherwise; it’s that I find these shows to be over-the-top, self-congratulating ads for yet more things to buy, collect and hoard. At best, they make us feel good about the choices we make, about our own taste and how that fits in with the rest of society. At worst, they are no more than publicity stunts.

It isn’t that movies, TV, music and other media aren’t an important part of our culture. They are, and always have been. Art, in all its forms, is an expression of the human soul. It provides diversion, escape and comfort; art stimulates our imagination and inspires us;  It serves to connect people across time and distance. Art often leaves us feeling wonder and awe, and at times it moves us to tears or laughter—sometimes even both at once.

As such, art deserves recognition, as do the artists who work tirelessly to create their masterpieces. Keep on reading!

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Flickering Lights: Jewish Movies That Have Impacted Us – Feb 8th, 2019 Sermon

Flickering Lights: Jewish Movies That Have Impacted Us

By Rabbi Boaz D. Heilman

February 8, 2019

Festivals have always been community-wide events meant not only for entertainment, but also for celebrating any number of the community’s traditions or cultural aspects. Jewish Americans today have music festivals, arts-and-crafts festivals, religious festivals, and of course, food festivals. These are wonderful occasions for rejoicing or reminiscing, for seeing what is new and beautiful, and for tasting a variety of fares from different countries and cultures.

Additionally, however, Jewish festivals also serve yet another important function: to bring together Jewish people; to let them interconnect, exchange ideas and thoughts.

In the past few years, a new kind of festival has become popular: the Jewish Film Festival.  More than other festivals, the Jewish Film Festival serves an additional function: to let us see ourselves the way others do. As we sit there, in the dark, watching and listening, we can recognize ourselves, both individually and as a community. Simultaneously, we also decipher the trends, the direction, and in general, the current state of the Jewish People.  Movies are a powerful medium.

An end-of-the-year tradition among literary pundits is to list the most important events of the almost-over-year. In a similar vein, knowing that the New Hampshire 2019 Jewish Film Festival will be coming to theaters in just a few weeks, I would like to put forth my own, very personal and very opinionated, nominations for the most influential Jewish movies that I have seen—not only in the past year, but actually over the past few years.

I will focus on movies that came out after the Holocaust, categorizing them by topic or era.  Keep on reading!