- Spanning Millennia, Program Explores How a Small Group Who Started as Desert Nomads Overcame Countless Obstacles to Survive to the Present Day -
Through thirty and more centuries, he has wandered about on earth,
He has seen far-flung empires crack and crumble,
and mighty peoples dwindle to naught...
With their kings and priests, their tyrants and princelings,
They have marched over him in vainglorious pride -
only to fall and die by the roadside.
But he, the Jew, still lives on...
- Lewis Browne, 1926
This is the story of Jewish survival. From slavery to the loss of their homeland; from exile to anti-Semitism; from pogroms to near annihilation in the Holocaust, how did they endure when so many other communities have vanished? Hosted by Martha Teichner, senior correspondent for "CBS News Sunday Morning," THE JEWISH PEOPLE: A STORY OF SURVIVAL explores some of the answers. The program airs as part of the June 2008 pledge drive (check local listings) on PBS.
While other films have explored Jewish religion or Jewish culture, this original production is the first Jewish film organized around the central themes of survival and the achievement of a people. Moving chronologically, THE JEWISH PEOPLE: A STORY OF SURVIVAL offers a sweeping overview of four millennia and the numerous civilizations -- Babylonian, Roman, Muslim, Spanish, Soviet and other -- that have ruled over the Jewish people.
THE JEWISH PEOPLE: A STORY OF SURVIVAL unfolds through historical photographs, documents and interviews about the Jewish culture with notable luminaries, including writer Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate; author Fran Lebowitz; Professor Alan Dershowitz, Harvard University; Professor Lawrence H. Schiffman, New York University; archaeologist William G. Dever, University of Arizona; archaeologist Jodi Magness, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; Professor Christine Hayes, Yale University; Professor Benjamin Gampel, Jewish Theological Seminary; Professor Deeana Copeland Klepper, Boston University; Professor Michael Stanislawski, Columbia University; and Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership.
Elie Wiesel recalls that many years ago the Dalai Lama wanted to meet him. When Wiesel went to see him, he asked, "Why did you want to meet me?" And the Dalai Lama said, "I’ll tell you why." He continued, "Your people suffered a lot and you went into exile 2,000 years ago, but you are still here. My people just left our homeland; we are in exile. Teach us how to survive."
Among the highlights of the film:
* How the Israelites, with Abraham, established the world’s first major monotheistic religion more than 4,000 years ago. This religion would give rise to two other major religions -- Christianity and Islam.
* How the Ten Commandments, which laid down the foundation of Jewish ethics, and the Torah (the first five books of the Bible) established ethical and practical codes for living.
* How the Jewish people used these texts to maintain cohesion as they were driven into exile and across the globe.
* How a handful of Jews scattered among alien cultures over three continents grew into an influential, intellectual people through the "power of Talmudic learning." The study, interpretation and implementation of the Talmud -- the oral traditions of Judaism that further clarified Jewish law -- came to be known as Rabbinic Judaism.
* The genesis of Christianity and Islam and how they affected and challenged Judaism for centuries.
* How, within the new world of Islam, Jews rose to their Golden Age of creativity. During the 10th-13th centuries, a meeting of the minds took place between Jewish and Muslim people. The scholar Maimonides, for example, devoted himself to Jewish culture, but also served as the personal physician to the great Caliph Saladin.
* How the Jews forewent conversion and were banished to the ghetto, but in an age of darkness, carried the torch of learning and the spirit of enterprise.
* How the Jews, after the Holocaust, have continued as a people, with a state, a voice and a history of survival.
Underwriters: Public Television Viewers and PBS.
Content Type: [Documentary]
Mar 06, 2010, 15:17:46
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