Cut & Post: Showtime TV’s Israeli Drama
TV Show Returns to Its Homeland…Israel
Homeland will begin its second season on Showtime on September 30. The Golden Globe-winning show will also be returning to its roots—in Israel—where it will be shooting several scenes, as it did for season one. Homeland is an American remake of the popular Israeli television series Hatufim (Kidnapped, in Hebrew, or Prisoner of War).
Both the Israeli and the American versions are about POWs returning home after years in captivity. Hatufim examines the return of two soldiers 17 years after their abduction in Lebanon and their physical and emotional scars.
In Homeland, a United States marine (Nicholas Brody, played by Damian Lewis) returns home after being held by terrorists in Afghanistan for eight years; a CIA operative with bipolar disorder (Carrie Mathison, played by Claire Danes) is convinced that he was “turned” and is determined to uncover his betrayal. The psychological thriller looks at the volatile mix of a fearful post-9/11 America and the actions of a damaged soldier-spy. The second season is bringing the destructive reach of al-Qaeda-like enemies into the very heart of Washington, as Brody is being promoted for national office.
When the crew is in Israel, their stay won’t be as grim as the show’s theme. In an interview with Conan O’Brien in 2011, Danes said regarding filming parts of the series’ first season in Israel: “It was wonderful, I loved it,” adding that Tel Aviv is “the most intense party town I’ve ever been to.” —Zelda Shluker
Farming the Land—And a Language
Learning a language should always be this organic. A new Yiddish language immersion program at a 200-acre organic farm in upstate New York enables participants to learn the mameloshen while growing burekas (beets), bleterkroyt (kale), pomedorn (tomatoes) and other crops.
The brainchild of Naftali Ejdelman and Yisroel Bass, Yiddish Farm (www.yiddishfarm.org) has taken root in Goshen, an hour north of New York City, on the site of a former Labor Zionist farm turned bungalow colony. The program mixes native speakers, some of whom are Hasidic Jews, with both Jews and non-Jews who are new to the language.
While Ejdelman noted that “Jews in every generation think that they’re the first to go back to the land,” American Jews are actually heirs to a long tradition of Yiddish-speaking farm colonies, from Vineland, New Jersey, to Petaluma, California. The goal of Yiddish Farm, Ejdelman said, is to promote the sustainability of both the land and the language that have nurtured generations of American Jews. —Ted Merwin
E=mc2, in Einstein’s Own Hand, Now Online
In March 1930, Albert Einstein wrote to the editor of Falastin: The Arab National Organ proposing a resolution to the Arab-Jewish conflict in Palestine. His letter appeared on the paper’s front page, with an endorsement by the editor.
This letter, one of the 80,000 documents in the Albert Einstein Archives, can now be read on the archives’ Web site, at www.alberteinstein.info. The site’s gallery includes documents related to the famed physicist’s public and personal life, his science and his relations with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Jewish people.
Among these is the manuscript—in German—containing his famous formula deriving from his special theory of relativity, E=mc2.
Two-thirds of the documents, all of them originals, are at the Hebrew University, to which Einstein willed his papers. By the end of 2012, all these will be digitized as high-quality images, said archives’ curators.
The Einstein Papers Project (www.einstein.caltech.edu), located in Pasadena, California, has the remaining third—copies from other sources—that have already been digitized. —Esther Hecht
100 Years of the (Jewish) Girl Scouts
Who knew the first commercially produced Girl Scout cookies were oatmeal and the creation of a Jewish bakery in Savannah, Georgia?
The recipe and 1936 bill of sale for 7,500 dozen cookies from the old Gottlieb’s Bakery provide just a taste of a yearlong exhibit at Savannah’s Congregation Mickve Israel (https://mickveisrael.org) celebrating the centennial of the Girl Scouts, founded in the city by Juliette Gordon Low.
“The Girl Scouts—In the Beginning We Were There” tells the story of 100 years of Jewish participation in the Scouts. Three of the first five troop leaders belonged to Mickve Israel, according to research editor Jane Kahn. Two nonagenarians who were early scouts are still active members of the 279-year-old Mickve Israel—the third-oldest synagogue in the United States, located blocks from the Girl Scouts’ birthplace.
“We are a congregation that enjoys a lot of tourists,” says Carol M. Towbin Greenberg, who helped curate the exhibit. —Ronda Robinson
Frankfurt, Germany, has elected its first Jewish mayor in almost 80 years and only its second in history. Social Democrat Peter Feldmann, a 53-year-old economist, former director of a senior citizens’ home and cofounder of the Working Group of Jewish Social Democrats, bested his opponent from the conservative Christian Democratic Union.
According to the Jerusalem Post, Feldmann says that his Jewish background was “not a topic” in the election: “I did not cite it as a theme. The voters know I am Jewish. Period!”
Feldmann worked on a kibbutz in his youth, is a strong advocate of Israel’s security and of relations with Tel Aviv, Frankfurt’s partner city. (Petra Roth, outgoing mayor, did not seek reelection; her decision to invite anti-Israel academic Alfred Grosser to deliver a speech at a Kristallnacht commemoration in 2010 triggered international criticism.)
Frankfurt’s Jewish community of 7,000—many from the former Soviet Union—represents a small percentage of the city’s total population of 650,000 and is less than a quarter of its size before the Holocaust. The city’s other Jewish mayor, Ludwig Landmann, served for nine years until the Nazis came to power in 1933. —Rahel Musleah
Faceoff in Germany
Evan Kaufmann, a 27-year-old Jewish professional hockey player originally from Minneapolis, displays the German flag on his team jersey. That is because he feels a growing sense of loyalty to the team he plays for: the Dusseldorf-based DEG Metro Stars. Before he joined the Metro Stars as a forward in 2008, Kaufmann had to confront both his future and his past.
His great-grandfather and great-grandmother died at the hands of the Nazis. His grandfather and great-aunt were the only Jewish survivors of the German village of Wittlich. Kaufmann is the first Jew to play on a German hockey team since the 1930s.
“I still consider myself more of an American, but from a hockey standpoint I’ve committed myself to Germany,” says Kaufmann. “It’s something I’m proud about…. Obviously you never want to forget. But everyone deserves a second chance and a right to rectify their mistakes.”
Though Kaufmann believes it is only possible to move forward through forgiveness, he still wonders if his grandfather would have been comfortable with his decision. —R.M.