You’ll Be Amazed at the Book’s Cinematic Scope
Reading Mikhal Dekel’s unique new history, Tehran Children—A Holocaust Refugee Odyssey, will open doorways for readers into a host of global issues as urgent as today’s front-page headlines. Her book truly is one of a kind. She spent a decade researching her father’s journey as a Polish-Jewish refugee from the Holocaust into the vast expanses of the Soviet gulag, across Asia and eventually to Tehran, Iran. Yes, in 1942, there was still a vibrant Persian-Jewish community in Tehran with ancient roots.
Please, read our Cover Story this week in which Editor David Crumm talks with Mikhal about this amazing story—and points out some of the ways this book can unlock fascinating worlds that may be closer to our families than we think. And, please, tell friends about this.
Holiday Cheer (and Sorrow)
The Longest Night aka Blue Christmas
HENRY BRINTON, our contributing columnist, writes about how his church—like many across the country—will be offering a special service on December 21. His article focuses on the millions of Americans who wrestle with the legacy of Adverse Childhood Experiences, which includes abuse in many forms. He also recommends several resources you’ll want to consider for yourself—or those you love.
Hanukkah: Celebrating Religious Freedom
SUNDOWN DECEMBER 22—The first night of Hanukkah arrives for million Jews worldwide. Although not as religiously significant as major Jewish holidays, such as Yom Kippur or Passover, Hanukkah is widely celebrated, and is easily recognized even by non-Jews.
EVENING OF TUESDAY DECEMBER 24—Even though a growing minority of Americans say they have no religious affiliation—about half of us say they like to attend Christmas Eve services. These holiday celebrations have become the biggest events of the year in thousands of churches nationwide. Holidays & Festivals columnist Stephanie Fenton has the story.
Kwanzaa: Celebrating African-American Values
THURSDAY DECEMBER 26—Kwanzaa is a week-long celebration of African-American culture that was first celebrated half a century ago in 1966. In the 21st century, writes Elizabeth Pleck in Journal of American Ethnic History, it remains “one of the most lasting innovations of United States black nationalism of the 1960s. Maulana Karenga, a prominent member of the black nationalist community, designed the holiday “as a celebration of African American family, community and culture.”
But, there is so much more to this holiday! In recent years, Karenga’s annual Kwanzaa messages have focused on ways African values can contribute to healing the whole world. Please, read Stephanie Fenton’s column on the festival, which includes inspiring quotes from a couple of Karenga’s messages.
Help Us Spread the Spirit of Peace this Season
What better gift to give someone this holiday season, than the gift of SPIRIT. All of these books promote peace by helping to bridge the gaps that separate Americans these days. Please read our gift-giving recommendations—and choose a couple of these great books. And, share this story with friends on social media or via email.There’s probably a book on this list that you’d like to receive!
Care to see all the holidays? It’s easy to find our annual calendar of global observances—just remember the address InterfaithHolidays.com
SUZY FARBMAN, this week, tells us the story of Soon Hagerty, who was born in Vietnam and fled with her family as refugees as the war ended. They were among the lucky survivors of this harrowing journey. As an American, Soon has dedicated her talents to giving back to her new homeland.
Faith & Film
ED McNULTY, for decades, has published reviews, magazine articles and books exploring connections between faith and film. Most of his work is freely published. Ed supports his work by selling the Visual Parables Journal, a monthly magazine packed with discussion guides to films. This resource is used coast-to-coast by individuals who love the movies and by educators, clergy and small-group leaders.
Among Ed’s free reviews and columns are:
- MARRIAGE STORY—Ed praises this heart-felt, honest drama and gives it 5 out of 5 stars.
- THE GOOD LIAR—Ed writes, “Director Bill Condon, who directed such dissimilar films as Beauty and the Beast, Mr. Holmes, The Fifth estate, Dream Girls, and Kinsey, this time gives us a scam artist tale that changes into a much more serious genre late in the film.” (4 stars)
- FORD V. FERRARI—Ed writes, “This is an exciting film about cars and race driving that, like any good sports film, is more about the people than the cars they build, test and drive. It is also about adult friendship; rebellion against overbearing authority; blue collar opposed to ‘the suits;’ proletariat against the patrician; and a father-son relationship.” (4 stars)
- PAIN AND GLORY—”Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar, whose films usually center on strong women, draws on aspects of his own life in this story of a faded film director almost despairing of renewing his career. It will come as no surprise that there is a strong woman central to his story, his mother Jacinta, played by Penelope Cruz when he was a boy.” (4.5 stars)
- A HIDDEN LIFE—Ed writes, “Terrence Malick, after his three montage-type films (Knight of Cups; To the Wonder: and The Tree of Life), returns to a simpler narrative form in this biography of Austrian WWII conscientious objector Franz Jägerstätter. He effectively juxtaposes the Eden-like tranquility and beauty of the Austrian mountain village of St. Radegund with the destructive evil of Nazis ruining Europe at the time.” (5 out of 5 stars)
- THE IRISHMAN—It’s a brilliant film in the genre where Martin Scorsese has become the master. (5 stars)
- THE REPORT—Ed writes, “There are times when those who love truth and justice weep for their country. Such a time is covered by writer/director Scott Z. Burns’ political thriller that unfolds like a relentless legal brief.” (5 stars)
- DARK WATERS—”Dark Waters joins such David vs. Goliath stories as Erin Brockovich and Take Back Our Town. The legal thriller’s title does not refer to dark, shark-infected waters, but to the quotidian water that we drink or with which we wash.” (5 stars)
- LAST CHRISTMAS—Director Paul Feig’s new holiday film is a bit better than the average TV-Christmas-movie fare, says Ed. (4 stars)
- A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD—The new film is touching and terrific—even better than Ed had expected, he writes. (5 stars)