Do Jews run Hollywood?
American Film critic Neal Gabler explains that “the Hollywood Jews, seeking acceptance, respectability and assimilation, saw the medium of film not as a quick way to make a dollar, but as an art form. Through their movies, the Jewish patriarchs painted an idealized portrait of an American society to which they were paradoxically denied access. They could invest themselves, and they could raise their status.”
They had a hunger for assimilation and, in the face of resistance and exclusion, “the Jews could simply create a new country–an empire of their own, so to speak . . . an America where fathers were strong, families stable, people attractive, resilient, resourceful, and decent. He concludes by writing, “The 20th-Century American Dream was to a considerable degree depicted and defined by Hollywood.”
Choose one film or TV show you have recently seen that has Jewish characters and create a YouTube clip with a review exploring how the creation may help shape the way Jews are perceived and understood in your country.
If the founder of Universal Studios is recalled at all it’s usually as the Hollywood pioneer behind classics like Frankenstein (1931), Dracula (1931), and The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923). But Carl Laemmle’s legacy must also be remembered for his courageous efforts from 1932 until his death in 1939 saving German Jews from the Nazis by bringing them to America, often at his own expense.
Comparing the German-born mogul to two heroic men who saved thousands of Jews from Nazis, Brandeis professor Thomas Doherty, author of Hollywood and Hitler, 1933-1939, says that in America, Laemmle was the “closest thing to an Oskar Schindler or Raoul Wallenberg.”
Laemmle courageously assisted about 300 families—well over a thousand people—many of whom got jobs at Universal to satisfy U.S. authorities. Even during the Depression, he never fired any of them, inspiring poet Ogden Nash to quip, “Uncle Carl Laemmle has a very large femmle.”
Read this review about Carl Laemelle’s life and write a thank you letter to him acknowledging the good he did for the Jewish people through his films and actions during the war.