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Wes Hopper


Jews digging a trench during World War II in Ponar Lithuania

“NOVA”’s terrific new one-hour film, “Holocaust Escape Tunnel,” is a reminder that in an era of alternative facts, science and history still can separate fact from fiction. The documentary explores the near destruction of one of the most important Jewish communities in history.

Prior to World War II, Jews comprised half the population of Vilnius, Lithuania, known in Yiddish as Vilna. Through a combination of survivor and descendant accounts, interviews with historians, archival films, and the findings of an international team of archeologists led by Dr. Richard Freund and Dr. Jon...

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I grew up in a family without any serious religious affiliation. We were Christian only in the most secular sense, and never attended church. Only one African-American family lived in our predominantly white community in Maine, and no Jews. I don’t remember ever hearing an anti-Jewish slur. In fact, Judaism was so foreign to me that it barely graced my radar.

Flash forward to my early 30s. As I discussed my interest in converting to Judaism with my wife, the granddaughter of Jewish Holocaust survivors, she looked me in the eye and said, “Yes, there are many wonderful things about...

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Those who lived through the turbulent seventies and watched All In The Family know how its creator, Norman Lear, revolutionized television sitcoms and went on to become an on-air activist against bigotry and intolerance. For children of the eighties and beyond, who know Lear’s hits only from syndication, the new documentary Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You is a revelation.          

The opening scene of Heidi Ewing’s and Rachel Grady’s film shows Lear on a theater stage during an interview in which Lear, 94, recites from his memoir Even This I Get To Experience. His...

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Season three of the critically-acclaimed TV show Broad City recently premiered on Comedy Central, returning viewers to the slapstick hijinks of Abbi and Ilana, two young, single Jewish women in New York City. The show’s creators and stars, Abbi Jacobson, 32, and Ilana Glazer, 28, grew up in Reform Jewish households and identify as cultural Jews.

Naming their characters after themselves, Abbi and Ilana literally wear their Jewishness on their sleeves; the season three premiere features Abbi wearing a T-shirt that reads “Challah Back.” In an interview with The Forward, Glazer says, “...

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Characters in scene from Transparent

Most people have at least heard of Amazon’s groundbreaking television show, Transparent, which along with transgender actress Laverne Cox of Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black and movies such as Tangerine, are pushing transgender stories from the margins into the mainstream. But to single out Transparent simply for highlighting a topic that’s still taboo in most of the television world is to overlook the other half of the show’s DNA – its significant reliance on Jewish themes and customs to weave its tale. It may seem an arbitrary combination, as the show is based in part on creator Jill...

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