Vanished worlds preserved on film

Whatever you may think of his feature films, the filmmaker Steven Spielberg is to be congratulated for his invaluable, if little known, contribution to documenting Jewish life and experience. (With thanks: Sami)

The Steven Spielberg Jewish film archive at the Hebrew University contains rare archive film footage of communities that simply no longer exist. Take the 1961 film ‘Edge of the West’ about the Jews of the Moroccan Mellah.Traditional Jewish craftsmen are shown plying their trades, while the poor of the community are being fed by US Jewish charity organisations and their children schooled by Chabad. A prospective bride is decked out in sumptuous clothes and jewellery for her Henna ceremony. Moroccan Jews tend to be pious and are seen celebrating Jewish festivals at home and in the synagogue.

The archive also has also a remarkable film about music in the Yemenite Jewish community, the continuity of their religious observances since Biblical times and the influence they have had on modern Israeli culture.

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