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Series: The Story of the Jews

 

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   2013    History
With optional Hebrew subtitles. Simon Schama's history of the Jewish experience ends with an examination of how the Holocaust and the creation of Israel have fundamentally changed what it means to be Jewish. Mixing personal recollection with epic history, Simon tells the story of the remarkable personalities and unprecedented events which turned the Zionist dream of creating a modern state of Israel into reality - and the consequences for the world. With contributions from writer David Grossman, photographer Micha Bar-Am, kibbutz founder Freddie Kahan, West Bank settler Zvi Cooper and Palestinian villager Yacoub Odeh. This film explores the tension between the high ideals and dire necessities that led to the creation of a Jewish homeland and the realities of conflict, dispossession and occupation that have followed in its wake.

Among Believers

   2013    History
With optional Hebrew subtitles. The story of medieval Jews struggling to preserve their identity--and sometimes their lives--under the rule of Christianity and Islam. Whether labelled 'Christ-killers' by the Christians or 'dhimmi' (non-Muslim citizens of an Islamic community) by the Muslims, diaspora Jews built new lives and invented new ways of being Jewish in exile in the face of discrimination, blood-libels and persecution interspersed with periods of tolerance, protection and peaceful co-existence. Drawing on some of the documents they left behind, this episode offers a vivid portrait of Jewish bankers, merchants, doctors, poets and artists flourishing in Lincoln, Cordoba, Venice and Cairo and tells the story of their mass expulsion from Spain in 1492.

A Leap of Faith

   2013    History
With optional Hebrew subtitles. This episode explores how the spread of the Enlightenment brought ghetto walls around Europe crashing down and allowed Jews to join the wider fabric of modern life in Europe in unprecedented ways. This Jewish renaissance saw Giacomo Meyerbeer and Felix Mendelssohn to establish the enduring tradition for Jewish musical prodigies. However the integration of Jewish talent into the mainstream of European culture and commerce eventually stirred up ancient prejudice, expressed in the new fashion of Romantic nationalism and the pseudo-science of anti-semitism.

The Story of the Jews: In the Beginning

   2013    History
With optional Hebrew subtitles. Simon Schama explores the history of the Jewish experience from ancient times to the present day. This programme begins the tale 3,000 years ago, with the emergence of a tribal people in a contested land and their extraordinary book, the Hebrew Bible, a chronicle of their stormy relationship with a faceless, formless, jealous God. It was loyalty to this 'God of Words' that defined the distinct identity of the ancient Jews and preserved it despite all that history could throw their way". The story unfolds with a dazzling cast of historical characters: Sigmund Freud dying in exile in London; Victorian evangelicals and explorers following 'in the footsteps' of Moses; Jewish mercenaries living, prospering and intermarrying in the pagan land of Egypt; Messianic Jews dreaming of the Apocalypse; and a Jewish historian, Josephus, who witnessed first-hand the moment when the apocalypse finally came and the Romans destroyed the Jewish High Temple in Jerusalem.

Over the Rainbow

   2013    Culture
With optional Hebrew subtitles. Simon Schama's history of the Jewish experience plunges into the lost world of the shtetl, the Jewish towns and villages sewn across the hinterlands of Eastern Europe which became the seedbed of a uniquely Jewish culture. Shtetl culture would make its mark on the modern world, from the revolutionary politics of the Soviet Union to the mass culture of Tin Pan Alley and Hollywood. It was also the birthplaces of Hasidism, the most visible, iconic and, arguably, most misunderstood expression of Jewish faith and fervour. This chapter of the story travels from the forests of Lithuania, where Simon's own family logged wood and fought wolves, to the streets of the Lower East Side where the sons of shtetl immigrants wrote the American songbook. With grim inevitability, the story returns to Eastern Europe in 1940 - where the genocidal mechanisms of the 'final solution' were beginning to grind the shtetl world into dust and ash.
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   2017    Nature
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   2012    Culture
Triumph of Life
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   2006    Nature