The Jewish Americans (2008)


“Nowhere in their long history did Jews have the opportunities that they had in the United States, but they have never found it easy to negotiate their desire to be American with their Jewishness.  There has always been a tug of war between being American and being a Jew.” – Narrator

Number of Times Seen – 1 (17 Feb 2020)

Brief Synopsis – Documentary that chronicles the ups and down of Judaism since the first Jews came to the shores of American before the Revolutionary War up through the 21st Century.

My Take on it – This is a film that I’ve been quite interested in seeing for a while because of my own personal connection to the subject.

The problem for me was the fact that it’s a six hour miniseries and wanting to find the time to watch it all together.

They do an amazing job here taking a very broad subject and looking at it very succinctly.

The story of the Jews in America spans 3+ Centuries and they are able to show the highlight over that time which help emphasize the various difficulties and problems that the Jews have faced while trying to become fully integrated into American society over that time period.

They are able to show why that hasn’t fully happened and that has much to do with the strong connection that people have with their Judaism which on the one hand has led to many changes in American society on a whole yet at the same time the fact that they cling to the past has led to not being able to complete that task of full integration.. for better and for worse.

The six hour run time works quite well in giving a very comprehensive overview of things, but even that feels too short to fully cover this subject matter.

The film has lots and lots of interviews with figures from all over the religious spectrum and that helps give a very unique and broader view of things which helps enhance this film even more.

This film does an amazing job showing the progression of Jews in American Society over time yet also is able to show how certain things have still stayed the same during that time span.

The one thing that actually surprised me here was that they made the decision not t focus very much on the recent history of Jews during the end of the 20th Century and the beginning years of the 21st which would be able to give an even more encompassing view on things sine the story is constantly evolving.

This is a great film that gives us a very poignant and powerful history lesson and does a wonderful job explaining the repercussions of everything that has happened over the Centuries to a small yet ever present group that has stood the test of time.

Bottom Line – Amazing documentary that is able to succinctly show the various problems over history with the integration of Jews into American society. The films is able to deal with the subject on a larger scope due to the fact that it is 6 hours long and this allows for a more comprehensive look at things. The various interviews with figures all across the religious spectrum gives the film a broader viewpoint which works really well here, They do an excellent job showing how things have progressed over the Centuries while also staying the same. I’m a bit surprised that they chose to not include too many modern aspects to things but as a history lesson, it comes across so poignantly.  Highly Recommended!

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – Explores 350 years of Jewish American history. Written and directed by award-winning filmmaker David Grubin, THE JEWISH AMERICANS is a journey through time, from the first settlement in 1654 to the present. It is about the struggle of a tiny minority who make their way into the American mainstream while, at the same time, maintaining a sense of their own identity as Jews. Focusing on the tension between identity and assimilation, THE JEWISH AMERICANS is quintessentially an American story, which other minority groups will find surprisingly familiar. (From PBS)

Rating – Oscar Worthy (9/10)

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2 thoughts on “The Jewish Americans (2008)

  1. Pingback: MovieRob Monthy Roundup – February 2020 | MovieRob

  2. Pingback: Temporal Top Ten – 2008 | MovieRob

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