From Borscht Belt to Berlin at the New York Jewish Film Festival

Last December, the online magazine Tablet ranked what it called the “100 Greatest Jewish Films.” If the heading was not sufficiently pretentious, the surprising choice of “E.T.” in first place raised quite a few eyebrows. Jody Rosen, a journalist at Tablet who helped consolidate the final list, explained that Steven Spielberg’s successful film is actually about an alien of short stature, who like the Jewish immigrants finds himself “isolated and desperate in a new land” and struggles to find a refuge from sadistic scientists who want to experiment on him – just like the Nazis.

Here are Rosen’s exact words: “E.T. is a minority story, an immigrant’s tale. E.T. is the ultimate greenhorn – an anxious, bewildered creature, adrift in a strange land.”

When Aviva Weintraub, Associate Curator and Director of the New York Jewish Film Festival, is asked about this choice, she finds it hard not to laugh. “I agree that the term ‘Jewish film’ is confusing and fluid,” she says in an interview prior to the festival opening today.


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