It’s A Wonderful Life and Happy Chanukah!

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To celebrate the first night of Hanukkah, I asked my Jewish technical adviser Cam, to talk about her favorite holiday movie. Since there are virtually no Hanukkah movies per se I thought I would share some films that had a powerful impact on me spiritually involving the Jewish faith. I believe we all answer to the same Higher Power, and how we treat each other and respect each other’s choice of worship (or not) matters. It’s how we live and love that matters. If you wish, please share a film that had a major impact on you emotionally or spiritually, holiday or not.

Few classic movie can be seen over and over again with as great anticipation as It’s a Wonderful Life. Known as a “Christmas” movie, it is only considered seasonal wisdom because of it’s backdrop being the holiday season. The message of what it means to be human doesn’t need a season of the year to be impactful. I loved this movie the first and twenty first times I watched it. Every character has parts of myself in them. The acting is superb and even although the movie can seem sappy at times, who cannot relate to the desire to leave the planet because life is not one expected it to be?   Cam

“It’s a Wonderful Life” when George decides to jump

A jubilant George get’s it.

The greatest gift.

I was forever changed after reading The Hiding Place written about the life of Corrie Ten Boom. This is really a story about her whole family and how they rallied to shelter and help their Jewish friends in 1940 Dutch, Haarlem, after the Nazi’s invaded Holland. They hid them in a special room that they built in their home/watch shop and ultimately suffered the same fate of many of their Jewish friends. This is a story about love and all it’s power. I saw the movie many years after reading the book and it was as good as the book. It made me really think about what I would do if I was in their position. She endured what many of her family couldn’t and she accomplished a great deal in her life but this wasn’t about the Christian faith for me. It was about the faith that all of us carry and the power that it gives us. The power to survive concentration camps.

That brings me to Night by Elie Wiesel. There is no film. It is a book that is the most powerfully, brutal portrayal of surviving ever written. It is a life changing book that comes around once in a life time. This is about the death of Wiesel’s faith in God and humanity, as a 16 year old boy in two of the worst camps that existed. The loss of his father gave him the courage to write this harrowing story.This is the first book in a trilogy and utilizes the metaphor of night, it’s the end but it also brings about a beginning to a new day. Powerful stuff and really made me look at the randomness of surviving. Why some do and some don”t? Finding his faith again in the face of such loss is the real miracle here. His eyes  look haunted still.

My last choice is a cartoon series that my kids loved and I thought it was the healthiest portrayal of Jewish culture and diversity. Sadly it is only available on VHS. I told Cam that we should produce our own. Imagine the stories…

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