In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review April 4, 2014 / 4 Nissan, 5774

How 'Noah' and Life Imitate Art

By Suzanne Fields

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | This isn't the Sunday school epic, but it asks the right questions.

"Noah," the movie, is sometimes described as an equal opportunity religious offender. But that's the narrow view. Various interpretations of the Bible story have changed over the centuries, and this latest one is inspired by the account in the Book of Genesis. The Genesis story is short and rich and challenges the imagination.

Life imitates art in a sea of grief and trouble. As the waters engulf the earth, drowning men, women and children, who cannot think of the mud slides that overran the people in tiny Oso, Wash., with no moral in sight? At a baptism last week in the Pacific Ocean off California, one of the congregation's faithful was swept away by a powerful undertow in the surf. A child asks, in the innocence of tender years, "Why do such things happen?" How deep and mysterious is the Indian Ocean that seems to have swallowed the passengers of Flight 370.

Each generation tries in its own way to explain the unknowable and the ineffable. Darren Aronofsky, the director of "Noah," described wryly as "a nice Jewish boy from Brooklyn," does it his way, fusing greater-than-life-size computer-generated images with human actors to ask fundamental questions: What does our moral life learn from catastrophe? How do good and evil frame contemporary arguments?

If you watch the movie with a teenager or a millennial you may discover that what they focus on is very different from what you see before you, but the questions posed are similar. "Noah" reaches for the cosmic meaning in a 21st century way, for tastes attuned to robots, aliens and wild apocalyptic images. This isn't the story we were taught in Sunday school, where pairs of happy, well-behaved animals are gathered by a gentle Noah (portrayed by the actor Russell Crowe).

But no single culture owns the epic of a great flood, where man and animal are saved from extinction by a man battling wind, rain and waves. In 1872, a scholar studied broken tablets with cuneiform inscriptions at the British Museum and shocked the world when he deciphered a similar story of the Great Flood that was 1,000 years older than the account in Genesis. It's "The Epic of Gilgamesh," which many schoolchildren read today.

We don't need the historic Noah to reflect on the underlying truth of his moral dilemmas when confronting a power greater than himself. Following divine law isn't for sissies. Whether the Genesis story of a great flood is literally true, as many millions believe it is, or a metaphorical tale of wonder and woe, it raises questions about free will, obedience and belief. The movie presents spectacle as no other medium can do.

We live in an age where moving pictures have become the instrument for making issues larger than life. Unlike the Renaissance, when a three-dimensional perspective in painting and monumental marble depicted heroic Biblical endeavors, the movies are the dominant media for a broader audience. We hear the sound and see the sight of humanity writ large on the big screen; we see the sweat and dirt of men and women struggling with mental confusion lifted from our fiercest imaginations. We can't turn away.

We feel Noah's pain at the task imposed on him, who in this telling becomes deranged as he carries out instructions from God. He is devoted to his family but turns on those he loves as the task leads him to fanaticism. He berates a child for crushing a flower, but must himself contribute to the destruction of multitudes.

Fortunately there is whimsical relief, in the depiction of Methuselah, Noah's grandfather and the oldest man who ever lived. He makes 969 look like the new 90. Many Bible believers will take issue with the director's liberties, but the movie is also based on thousands of years of commentary and modern scholarship. An inventive mind will visualize, not sentimentalize. The movie's sci-fi giants, huge stone-like creatures with six arms to assist in building the ark and repelling intruders, will find intellectual defenders because the characters are rooted in the Bible's Nephilim. (You can Google them.)

I expected "Noah" to offer a blockbuster without much depth. But curious minds will want to think more about its themes of mercy and justice, its dialectic of good and evil, where personal desires collide with collective survival. "Noah" opened with a $44 million take for an audience with a range of ages and various religious beliefs and secular attitudes. Movieguide says that 83 percent of the movies made now include Biblical or moral content. Who knew? More than stormy weather sells.

Suzanne Fields Archives

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.


© 2006, Creators Syndicate, Suzanne Fields