Growing up in a Jewish family, I learned that fall is the real holiday season, not December. From Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur to Sukkot, there is no shortage of celebration and contemplation in the fall to usher in the new year and the harvest. Which is why in my family, we take time in the fall to watch Jewish movies. What better way to enjoy some family togetherness and explore Jewish history and culture at the same time?
There are Jewish films that will appeal to all members of the family. As a child, I watched An American Tail, an immigration story featuring a Jewish mouse, Fievel Mousekewitz, and his family as they travel to America to escape persecution in Russia. I'm not sure I understood how Jewish this movie was back then, but as an adult I see parts of my family's American immigration story in it.
Of course, we watched classics like The Ten Commandments. Charlton Heston's performance as Moses in this nearly four-hour epic is truly amazing. We often watched it a second time at Passover, in the spring, when we tell the story of Moses at the seder table.
Another classic worth revisiting is Fiddler on the Roof. It's such a warm cozy story, even as the characters experience hardship and struggle in a small town in Russia. Milkman Tevye's family is a joy to spend a few hours with, and you probably know some of the songs even if you've never seen the film.
For a more recent Jewish movie, I highly recommend A Serious Man. It's a black comedy by the masters of the genre, the Coen brothers. Larry Gopnik is a Jewish man in middle America, struggling with a series of unfortunate events starting with his wife asking for a get—a document required in Jewish law to get a divorce.
What Jewish movie do you love watching?