Films of Jewish Interest: Jewish History and Culture
Movie Recommendations

Adventure in Israel. 2009. DVD He956.94054 A
Take a breathtaking journey with Matan Ariel and his friends as they sing and dance their way through some of Israel's most scenic locations.
Against All Odds: Israel Survives. 2006. DVD 956.94 A
A journey through Israel's turbulent history with eyewitness accounts, interviews, and gripping dramatizations that depict awe-inspiring supernatural phenomena that helped to create and preserve the nation.
Arab and Jew: Return to the Promised Land. 2002. DVD 956.9405 A
Illustrates both unchanging views and an evolution of attitudes by Israelis and Palestinians from before and after the Oslo peace process. This program is a journey through the psychological landscape where Arabs and Jews meet.
The Bielski Brothers: Jerusalem in the Woods. 2006. DVD 940.5318 B
Documents the Bielski brothers, who built an elaborate village in the woods, from which they rescued Jews and mounted guerilla attacks against the Nazis.
Blessed is the Match: The Life and Death of Hannah Senesh. 2008. DVD 940.5318 B
Tells the life story of Hungarian-born poet and Holocaust heroine Hannah Senesh, who was only 22 when she parachuted into Nazi-occupied Europe as part of a rescue mission to save the Jews of Hungary. Dramatizations, interviews, photographs, newsreel footage, letters, and diary entries are used to illuminate Senesh's early years, her immingration to Palestine, her involvement in the perilous rescue mission, and her capture and eventual execution in Hungary.
The Buried Mirror: Reflections on Spain and the New World. 1991. VHS 946.02 B
Written and presented by Carlos Fuentes, the best-selling Mexican author, who looks for his forebears in the mix of people that created Latin America: Spanish, Arab, Jewish, Indian, and African. He asks what is unique in their culture that is cause for celebration in the 500th anniversary year of Columbus.
Chicago Stories: Jewish Chicago 1833 to 1948. 2003. DVD 977.311004924 C and
VHS 977.311004924 C
This is the story of a very diverse community who overcame great obstacles to flourish in a new land. This is Jewish Chicago.
Chicago Stories: Jewish Chicago 1948 & Beyond. 2003. DVD 977.311004924 C
Follows Chicago's Jewish community as it spreads out across the metropolitan area.
Chronicle of the Third Reich. 2010. DVD 943.086 C
Embark on a unique journey through the bleakest chapter of German history as Michael Kloft traces the story of the Third Reich. Learn about the politics, war years, and crimes of the Nazis from unpublished footage and three famous historians: Sir Ian Kershaw, Brigitte Hamann, and Goetz Aly.
Crown Heights. R. 2002. DVD 791.4572 CRO TV
In August of 1991, an African American boy was accidentally killed by a car driven by a Hasidic Jewish man in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn. For the following three days, the Heights experienced murder, riots and racial tensions. The efforts of an African American youth leader and a Hasidic rabbi bring the polarized communities together. During this time, two teens, Yudi Simon and T.J. Moses forge a friendship based on a mutual love of rap music and dance. Two groups that have suffered persecution throughout the centuries embrace tolerance and discover that progress is possible.
Divan. 2003. DVD 204.41 D
As a teenager, filmmaker Pearl Gluck left her [Hasidic] Jewish community in Brooklyn for secular life in Manhattan. Many years later, Pearl's father has one wish: that she marry and return to the community. Pearl, however, takes a more creative approach to mend the breach. She travels to Hungary to retrieve a turn-of-the-century family heirloom: a couch upon which esteemed rabbis once slept. En route for the ancestral divan, Pearl encounters a colorful cast of characters who provide guidance and inspiration, including a couch exporter, her ex-Communist cousin in Budapest, a pair of Hungarian-American matchmakers and a renegade group of formerly ultra-Orthodox Jews.
Echoes of a Nightmare. 1987. VHS 323.443 E
Cinéma vérité documentary that chronicles the incident concerning the efforts of the American Nazi Party to march in Skokie.
Elusive Justice: The Search for Nazi War Criminals. TV-14. 2011. DVD 940.5405 E
Explores the 65-year effort to identify, prosecute, and punish the 20th century's most notorious murderers.
Elusive Peace: Israel and the Arabs. Not rated. 2005. DVD 956.94054 E
President Clinton, Yasser Arafat, the Israeli Prime Ministers, their generals and advisors, and those behind the suicide bombs and assassinations tell what happened behind closed doors as peace talks gave way.
Escape from Auschwitz. Not rated. 2008. DVD 940.5318 E
The incredible story of two young Slovak Jews, Rudol[f] Vrba and Alfred Wetzler, who managed to escape by hiding in a woodpile for three days, then fleeing across enemy territory, determined to tell the world about the atrocities being committed by the Nazis at the camp.
Falasha: Exile of the Black Jews. Not rated. 1983. DVD 963.004924 F
Story of Ethiopian Jews and the politics that caused the Israeli government to airlift 7,000 Ethiopian Jews out of the Sudan to Israel from Nov. 24, 1984 to Jan. 6, 1985.
The 50 Years War: Israel and the Arabs. 1999. VHS 956.9405 F
Begins with the 1947 United Nations decision to partition Palestine and continues to current day (1998). The film includes interviews and news clips of heads of state and other military and intelligence leaders. Traces history of Palestinian Liberation Organization. Filmed in Israel, the Palestinian autonomous areas, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, the United States, and Russia. Cast includes Benjamin Netanyahu, Shimon Peres, Yitzhak Shamir, King Hussein, Yasser Arafat, Hafez al-Assad, Jafaar Numeiry, Bill Clinton, George Bush, Jimmy Carter.
From Toledo to Jerusalem. 2007. DVD 909.04924 T
When Medievel Spain expelled the Jew, the Toledo community became determined to reach the city of their dreams, Jerusalem.
The Gates of Jerusalem: A History of the Holy City. 1996. DVD 956.94 G
Jerusalem's eight gates represent the spiritual gateways of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, and each plays a vital role in Jerusalem's past, present, and perhaps future. Through the description of these gates, this documentary traces the history of the most troubled and the most revered city in the world from Abraham to modern time.
Heritage: Civilization and the Jews. 1984. DVD 909.04924 H pt.1-4
The nine videos in this series are part of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Library Video Classics Project. Abba Eban chronicles Jewish thought and culture over three millennia in this epic documentary series.
v.1 - A People is Born (3500 B.C. to 6th Century B.C.)
v.2 - Power of the Word (6th Century B.C. to 2nd Century A.D.)
v.3 - The Shaping of Tradition (1st to the 9th Century)
v.4 - The Crucible of Europe (9th to 15th Century)
v.5 - The Search for Deliverance (1492-1789)
v.6 - Roads from the Ghetto (1789-1914)
v.7 - The Golden Land (1654-1932)
v.8 - Out of the Ashes (1914-1945)
v.9 - Into the Future (1945 to the present)
A History of Israeli Cinema. 2009. DVD 791.43095694 H
Raphaël Nadjari's extraordinary two-part documentary weaves together clips from more than 70 years of Israeli film with commentary from filmmakers, scholars and critics - including Amos Gitai, Joseph Cedar, Avi Mograbi, Yehuda Ne'eman, Menachem Golan, Moshe Ivgy, Ronit Elkabetz and Zeev Revach.
House of Life: The Old Jewish Cemetery in Prague. 2007. DVD 393.1089924 H
The history of the Old Jewish Cemetary in Prague, rich in lore, mysticism, tradition, and philosophy, is chronicled by Claire Bloom. Tales of great rabbis and philanthropists, WWII German occupation, the communist era, and more are revealed.
Image Before My Eyes. 1981. DVD 943.804 I
A photographic history of Jews in Poland between the two World Wars that pays homage to the dynamic and vibrant society of 3.5 million people that was destroyed during the Holocaust.
In Our Own Hands: The Hidden Story of the Jewish Brigade in World War II. 1998.
DVD 940.541241 I
and VHS 940.541241 I
Personal reminiscences by veterans of the Jewish Brigade, a regiment of the British Army during World War II. Includes extensive historical footage of their activities and campaigns.
Israel: A Nation is Born. 1994. DVD 956.94 I v.1-3
Part 1 - Portrays the rise of Zionism and President Truman's support for a Jewish state and describes the Jewish struggle for independence in Palestine.
Part 2 - Opens with the proclamation of Israeli statehood on May 14, 1948 and the subsequent war with the Arabs, the siege and fall of Jerusalem, and the initial peace process. Also describes Jewish immigration to Israel and developments in the early 1950s.
Part 3 - Explains the end of Israeli isolation culminating in the Sinai Campaign of 1956. Also covers the kidnapping and trial of Adolf Eichmann, Nasser's plots against Israel, and Richard Nixon's insights on events of the period.
Part 4 - Starts with events surrounding the Six Day War of 1967 and describes Eban's work as Foreign Minister, the passage of UN resolution 242, and the failure of post-war attempts to achieve peace.
Part 5 - Opens with the Yom Kippur War of 1973 and the Camp David Accord leading to a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. Eban describes his personal communications with Arab leaders and outlines the beginning of a new peace process after the Madrid Conference.
The Jewish Americans. 2008. DVD 973.04924 J
Chronicles the 350 year saga of immigrants who gradually wove themselves into the fabric of American life without abandoning their cherished traditions.
The Jewish People: A Story of Survival. 2009. DVD 296 J
Spanning millennia, this history of the Jewish people explores how a small group who started as desert nomads overcame countless obstacles to survive to the present day.
The Jews: A People's History. 2009. DVD 296.09 J
This five-part documentary explores 4,000 years of Jewish history, starting with the origins of the Jewish people in the Middle East, right through to present-day Judaism.
Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story. 2010. DVD 796.3570973 J
Traces the Jewish involvement in the history of the sport from the game's earliest days, through the tumultuous war years to today's All-Star games. By analyzing various stages in this history, including how the legendary Sandy Koufax pioneered rights for players and Hank Greenberg's support of Jackie Robinson, the film demonstrates how Jews shaped baseball, and baseball shaped them.
The Jews of Chicago: From Shtetl to Suburb. 1996. VHS 977.311004924 J
Dr. Irving Cutler delivers a lecture based upon his book of the title. Lecture presented at Skokie Public Library July 1996.
The Jews of Poland: Five Cities. 1939. VHS 943.804 J
Filmed primarily in 1939, these five short documentaries focus on Jewish life in the cities of Krakow, Vilna, Lvov, Warsaw, and Bialystok.
Kindgom of David: The Saga of the Israelites. 2003. DVD 933 K
Tells the story of the Israelites and the creation of the world's first monotheistic religion.
A Life Apart: Hasidism in America. 1997. DVD 296.8332 L
Seven years in the making, this documentary explores Hasidic homes, schools, and ceremonies.
Life in a Jar. 2006. DVD 940.5318 L
A Catholic Polish woman rescued over 2,500 Jewish children from certain death during the Holocaust in Poland. Her heroic actions were never told until three students in Kansas were looking for information for a National History Day project. Their research led to the Life in a Jar Project, a play recounting the story of Irena Sendler, and her story became known to the world.
The Long Way Home. 1997. DVD 940.5318 S
This documentary, which uses rare archival footage, original broadcasts, and personal testimonies of holocaust survivors, traces the stories of courage in the harrowing years between the end of World War II and the formation of the state of Israel.
The Longest Hatred: A Revealing History of Anti-Semitism. 1993. DVD 305.8924 L
A revealing history of anti-Semitism with roots long before the Holocaust and branches that continue to sprout in surprising places today.
The Lost Ark. 1994. DVD 296.493 L
Legend has it that the original Ten Commandments handed down from God to Moses were placed inside an ark which was last seen in Jerusalem in 587 B.C. This search for the Ark of the covenant travels to ancient Palestine to dig for answers, where historic illustrations shed light on the date of the Ark's last sighting. The trail next leads to wondrous artifacts that bear witness to mankind's obsession with the Ark and its contents. As shifting sands reveal fresh scientific evidence, the program travels to Ethiopia, where deep inside an almost mystical cave, new answers are uncovered.
Lost Tribes of Israel. 2000. VHS 968.91 L
South Africa's Lemba people claim to be descendants of Jews and one of the lost tribes of Israel. In this program, anthropologist Tudor Parfitt investigates the Lemba's claim through genetic testing and attempts to retrace their migration.
Maxwell Street: A Living Memory. Not rated. 2002. DVD 977.311004924 J
Captures the essence of this once famous Chicago market through the children and grandchildren of the Eastern European Jewish immigrants who built it.
Peace and Harmony: Community Unity Rally. 2000. VHS 323.443 P
The themes of peace, harmony, and diversity within the community of Skokie are explored by prominent officials and local citizens. The rally is the community's response to a Ku Klux Klan demonstration held December 16, 2000 at the Skokie courthouse.
Prisoner of Her Past. Not rated. 2010. DVD 616.8521 P
The haunting story of a secret childhood trauma resurfacing, sixty years later, to unravel the life of Holocaust survivor Sonia Reich. The film follows her son, Chicago Tribune jazz critic Howard Reich, as he journeys across the United States and Eastern Europe to uncover why his mother believes the world is conspiring to kill her. Along the way, he finds a family he never knew he had. This film is the first to illuminate a little-known illness: late-onset Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This examines the disorder's devastating effect on families, but also shows programs that are aiding young trauma survivors of Hurricane Katrina, in New Orleans, and how such early interventions may have helped Howard's mother.
Promises. Not rated. 2001. DVD 305.23095694 P
Follows the journey of a filmmaker who travels in and around Jerusalem, from a Palestinian refugee camp to an Israeli settlement in the West Bank, where he meets seven Palestinian and Israeli children who exist in completely seperate worlds, divided by physical, historical and emotional boundaries. Explores the natural boundaries and tells the story of a few children who dared to cross the lines to meet their neighbors. Seen through the eyes of the children, who although only living 20-minutes apart, live day-to-day obstacles differently that seperate them deeply.
Protocols of Zion. R. 2005. DVD 305.8924073 P
Examines the rise of anti-Semitism in the United States after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
Quest for the Lost Tribes. 1999. VHS 909.04924 Q
This video ponders the mystery of the lost tribes of Israel. Only Judah and Benjamin, from the twelve tribes mentioned in the Bible, survived the Assyrian capture of Israel. What happened to the other ten has been a mystery to scholars and theologians ever since. Emmy-award winning filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici travels to Afghanistan, China, India, Tunisia, and the Middle East in search of answers to this baffling question.
The Ritchie Boys. Not rated. 2004. DVD 940.548673 R
The story of a group of young Jewish men who fled Nazi Germany only to return to Europe as United States soldiers who knew the psychology and the language of the enemy better than anybody else. At the U.S. Army base of Camp Ritchie, in the mountains of Maryland, they were trained in intelligence and psychological warfare. Their mission: gather intelligence from behind enemy lines and act as interrogators as the Allied armies moved east through France and into Germany.
Shtetl. Not rated. 1996. DVD 940.5318 S
In 1942, 2,500 Jews from Bransk, Poland died in Treblinka's gas chambers. Their shtetl died with them. Uncover the true story of Jewish life in Bransk before and after WWII. Starting as a pilgrimage by a Holocaust survivor from Bransk to uncover his roots, the quest is joined by a young Polish Gentile historian from Bransk who is also driven to discover the mystery of the last Jewish community.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center Collection. Not rated. 1982-2007. DVD 940.5318 S
Experience the extraordinary spectrum of Jewish life and the Holocaust legacy with nine of the most acclaimed documentaries of our time.
Skokie. PG. 1981. DVD 791.457251 SKO TV and VHS 791.457251 SKO TV
Based on the actual events of the conflict that developed when a group of Neo-Nazis planned to march through the streets of Skokie. Cast includes Danny Kaye, Brian Dennehy, Eli Wallach, Carl Reiner, John Rubinstein, and Kim Hunter.
Skokie: Memories of a March. 2002. VHS 323.443 S
This documentary chronicles the events surrounding the efforts of a National Socialist Party (Nazi) group led by Frank Collin to march in the predominantly Jewish community of Skokie, Illinois in 1977. The memories and reactions of Skokie residents, many of whom were Holocaust survivors, are highlighted.
They Came for Good: Present at the Creation 1654-1820. 2001. DVD 973.04924 T
Tells the story of the first Jews to immigrate to America, their problems gaining acceptance and attempting to assimilate into the new culture, while maintaining their own group identity.
They Came for Good: Taking Root 1820-1880. 2001. DVD 973.04924 T
Chronicles the first major split in the practice of Judaism where conservative and reform movements vied for Jewish souls, while on the battlefields of the civil war, Jews were profoundly divided along regional lines and took up arms on both sides.
Trembling before G-d. Not rated. 2001. DVD 296.08664 T
An unprecedented feature documentary that shatters assumptions about faith, sexuality, and religious fundamentalism. Built around intimately told personal stories of Hasidic and Orthodox Jews who are gay or lesbian, the film portrays people who face a profound dilemma.
Wannsee Conference. 1992. DVD 940.5318 W
Examines the political and social forces that fueled anti-Semitism in Germany in the 1930s. Includes an historical recreation of the conference at Wannsee in Berlin January 2, 1942, where Nazi leaders formulated their plans for the world-wide eradication of the Jewish people.
We Were So Beloved: The German Jews of Washington Heights. 1985. DVD 940.5318 W
Examines the experiences of Jewish refugees who settled in Washington Heights, New York, after fleeing Germany in the 1930s.