Jewish humor has travelled from the Shtetl to Hollywood, from the Torah to Comic books. Jewish humor is tradition and pop culture – and also a cliché? Especially in Germany and Austria, Jewish jokes became very popular after the Second World War. Jewish humor is, allegedly, self-ironic – and laughing about the Jews together with the Jews seems like a convenient way for the perpetrator countries to cope with their dark pasts. But is Jewish humor really always self-mocking – or is the matter more complex? In the documentary, rabbis, comedians and writers from Germany, Austria, France and Israel have their say. Who owns Jewish humour – and who owns the laughter?
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“Who Are the Marcuses?” reconstructs the lives of Holocaust refugees Lottie and Howard Marcus, an unassuming couple from Great Neck, New York, who retired to a modest two-bedroom apartment in San Diego, California. Former dentist Howard passed away in 2014 at age 104. Lottie passed less than two years later. In 2016, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev announced the Marcuses had given them over half a billion dollars: the largest single charitable donation to the State of Israel in its history. The film simultaneously traces the development of Israel’s vital water technology from pre-state to the present; how the Marcuses” endowment to BGU has ensured its continued leading-edge development in this science for not only the Israeli people, but the world as a whole; sets the family’s gift in geopolitical context; and explores both its impact and implications for regional peace through technology exchange.
More than 70 years after WWII, Thalau – a small village in Germany – comes to terms with the complex legacy of native son Wilm Hosenfeld, the Nazi officer widely known for saving Wladyslaw Szpilman – ”The Pianist”, who is now revealed to have been a serial rescuer.
Hosenfeld’s personal diaries record his chilling, gradual disillusionment with the Nazi war machine he belonged to and that Szpilman, incredibly, is just one of sixty people he saved. Thalau’s group of supporters are inspired to have Hosenfeld memorialized at the local school he led before enlisting in Hitler’s army, but the villagers struggle to come to terms with the complicated legacy of a man they want to forget; a Nazi officer and a serial rescuer.