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From Stage To Screen: The Jewish Contribution To American Music, Television & Cinema

Get ready for an exciting exploration of Jewish contributions to American entertainment with CSP's 23rd annual scholar in residence series featuring Prof. Howard Lupovitch - a distinguished scholar of Jewish history and Director of the Cohn-Haddow Center for Judaic Studies at Wayne State University. "From Stage to Screen: The Jewish Contribution to American Music, Television and Cinema" is a unique and comprehensive look at the ways in which Jewish individuals and traditions have shaped and influenced American music, television, and cinema. Divided into three subthemes, the series covers "There’s No Business like Show Business: The Jewish Musical Tradition in America", exploring the impact of Jewish musicians and composers on American music; "Jews on the Small Screen," which examines the representation of Jews on television; and "Jews on the Silver Screen," which explores the role of Jewish filmmakers, actors, and characters in American cinema. Prof. Lupovitch's expertise in Jewish history and his passion for exploring the intersection of Judaism and popular culture make him the ideal scholar in residence for this year's exciting program. Don't miss out on this fascinating journey through the world of Jewish contributions to American entertainment!


January 7, 14, 21 & 28, 2024

Jews on the Small Screen

10:00-11:00 AM PST/1:00-2:00 PM EST/20:00-21:00 Israel Time

This series delves deep into the ever-evolving portrayal of Jewish identity, both its challenges and triumphs, in the medium of American television. From the early endeavors to introduce Jewish culture to mainstream audiences and the complex legacy of antisemitism in post-World War II America to the power of humor in shaping Jewish narratives and the transformation of Jewish female characters beyond traditional stereotypes, these sessions weave together a tapestry of cultural understanding.

Sunday January 7, 2024

From Absent to Invisible: Mainstreaming Jews on Television           

I.  Explaining Jews, Explaining Judaism           

II. Bridget and Bernie           

III. Everyone knows what a Bris is           

IV. Feeling Jewish

Sunday January 14, 2024

Criminalizing Antisemitism           

I.  The Shoah in Post-War American Culture           

II.  Anti-Semitism as Social Discrimination           

III. “Soft” Racism 

Sunday January 21, 2024

Laughing at Jews, Laughing with Jews           

I.  Antisemitic, Philosemitic, Allosemitic           

II.  Die Yiddishe Mama           

III.  Seinfeld's Rabbi

Sunday January 28, 2024

Beyond the Yiddishe Mama           

I. Rhoda Morganstern: the Stereotype who wasn’t                                                                              

II. Fran Fine: the “JAP” with a Heart of Gold           

III. Rachel Menkin: Jewish Self-Confidence          

IV. Ziva David: Israeli Strength, Jewish Power


January 9, 16, 23 & 30 and Feb. 6, 13, 20 & 27

Jews on the Silver Screen

10:00-11:00 AM PST/1:00-2:00 PM EST/20:00-21:00 Israel Time

Over eight enlightening weeks, we delve into the tapestry of Jewish representation, both overt and subtle, in Hollywood's history. From the pioneering Jewish visionaries who shaped global cinema to the enduring fascination with biblical narratives and the layers they hold, we uncover the intersections of culture and storytelling. We also confront and deconstruct stereotypes through the lens of Jewish gangsters and explore how cinema has exposed and healed societal ills. As we transition to adaptations of literature and the works of renowned directors like Steven Spielberg, we question the Jewish elements that lie beneath the surface. At the end of the series, we spotlight the roles of Jewish women in the industry and explore both the visible and invisible aspects of Jewishness in film, from unspoken identities to bold declarations.

Tuesday January 9, 2024

Entrepreneurs with a Vision           

I.  Jews a Motion Pictures: a Global Perspective           

II.  Immigrants and Emigres           

III. Directors as Social Activists: Leo Hurvitz and George Cukor 

Tuesday January 16, 2024

The “Heston Effect”: Bible Stories for a Hollywood Audience           

I. The American Obsession with the Hebrew Bible           

II. Biblical Melodrama: Samson and Delilah and Solomon and Sheba           

III. From Heston’s Moses to Prince of Egypt           

IV. Ben-Hur: Christian and Jewish Layers 

Tuesday January 23, 2024

Unmaking/Remaking Stereotypes: Jewish Gangsters as Heroes and Villains           

I.  Hyman Rothstein (aka Meyer Lansky) and The Godfather           

II. Tough Jews in Once Upon a Time in America            

III. Bugsy Siegal as Jewish Anti-Hero 

Tuesday January 30, 2024

Exposing and Healing the Ills of Society           

I. Gentlemen's Agreement: How Jewish is too Jewish?           

II. The Last Angry Man: The Challenge of Being Principled           

III. School Ties: David Green and Elite Society           

IV. Erik Lehnsherr (aka Magneto) and the Imperfectability of Humanity                       

Tuesday February 6, 2024

Dumbing Down Literature: The Chosen as Novel and Movie           

I. Potok’s Jewish New York           

II. Explaining Hasidic Spirituality           

III. Rod Steiger’s Rebbe 

Tuesday February 13, 2024

Spielberg before Schindler: How Jewish?           

I.  ET: A Story of Exile and Return?           

II. The Twilight Zone: A Jewish View of Aging           

III. The Lost Ark and the Battle between Good and Evil 

Tuesday February 20, 2024

Jewish Women in Movies           

I. Marjorie Morningstar           

II. Izzy Grossman and the Escape from Delancey Street           

III. Woody Allen's Jewish Mothers           

IV. Baby Houseman and the World of the Catskills           

Tuesday February 27, 2024

Visible and Invisible Jewishness           

I.  What's Up Doc: Barbara Streisand’s Unstated Jewishness           

II.  Avalon and the Melting Pot           

III. Adam Sandler and Ben Stiller: Masters of Chutzpah           

IV. Cher Horowitz -- Jewish American Princess


January 4, 11, 18, 25 & February 1, 8, 15, 22, 29

“There’s No Business like Show Business”

The Jewish Musical Tradition in America 

12:30-1:30 PM PST/3:30--4:30 PM EST/22:30-23:30 Israel Time

Join us on this melodic exploration of a rich and diverse tradition that has not only reflected the Jewish-American experience but has also left an indelible mark on the nation's musical history. From the early Yiddish roots of Jewish immigrants to the groundbreaking compositions of Aaron Copland, the influence of Jews in the Jazz Revolution, and their role in shaping the landscape of Broadway and Rock & Roll, this series celebrates the enduring impact of Jewish musical traditions on American culture. With sessions dedicated to iconic figures like Irving Berlin, Leonard Bernstein, and Bob Dylan, as well as the transformative power of artists like Debbie Friedman, we explore how these artists navigated their Jewish identities within the evolving American musical tapestry.

Thursday January 4, 2024

Jewish Immigrants and Their Yiddish Musical Roots           

I.    What is Jewish Music?           

II.   Transplanting the Shtetl           

III.  Tomashevsky and the Jewish Hamlet           

IV.  The March of the Suffragettes 

Thursday January 11, 2024

"The Loudest Voice:" Irving Berlin and the Gershwins           

I.    Becoming American           

II.   Yiddish in Blackface           

III.  Can Christmas Music be Jewish?  

Thursday January 18, 2024

Aaron Copland: Out of the Melting Pot           

I.   Jewish, American, and European Roots           

II.  Ambivalent Memories: The Vitebsk Trio           

III. Celebrating Lincoln  

Thursday January 25, 2024

Jews and the Jazz Revolution           

I.   Jews and African-Americans           

II.  Jolson and The Jazz Singer           

III. Jews playing Jazz                        

Thursday February 1, 2024

Making Broadway Sing: Jews and Musical Theater             

I.   Yiddish Forbears: Child or Stepchild?             

II.  The Jewish Divas: Fanny Brice and Sophie Tucker             

III. The Business of Broadway  

Thursday February 8, 2024

Leonard Bernstein: A Genius Born of Multiple Musical Traditions           

I.  Bernstein and Jewish Boston             

II.  Fusing Musical Traditions             

III. Jeremiah and the Kaddish: Jewish Symphonies? 

Thursday February 15, 2024Morris Levy, Motown, and the Birth of Rock & Roll              

I.  Childhood in Harlem             

II. “Rock & Roll”             

III. Bernie Essman – Motown in the Motor City 

Thursday February 22, 2024

Jews and the Folk Music Revival             

I.  Re-Discovering Roots             

II. Music as Activism             

III. Robert Zimmerman/Bob Dylan's Dual Odyssey 

Thursday February 29, 2024

American Nusach: Debbie Friedman and the Great American Jewish Sing-along               

I.  Summer Camp and the New American Judaism               

II. The Sacred and the Secular               

III. Celebrating the New Jewish Woman 


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