by Dr. Mara Balk
JCC Program Director
Directed by Oscar-nominee Larry Weinstein (Inside Hana’s Suitcase, Leslie Caron: The Reluctant Star, Making Overtures), “Dreaming of a Jewish Christmas” is an offbeat, irreverent documentary that tells the story of a group of Jewish songwriters, including Irving Berlin, Mel Tormé, Jay Livingston, Ray Evans, Gloria Shayne Baker and Johnny Marks, who wrote the soundtrack to the world’s most musical holiday.
It’s an amazing look at the 20th-century North American immigrant experience and the extraordinary outburst of musical energy from the children of those immigrants. This new generation rejected their parents’ European past and instead embraced Tin Pan Alley, Broadway and, finally, Hollywood. The outsiders began writing the soundtrack to the insiders’ American dreams and in doing so, wrote themselves into history.
Telling this story through words and song, “Dreaming of a Jewish Christmas” features rarely seen archival footage, musical performances, and interviews with contemporary writers and performers, as well as connoisseurs of North American popular music. “Dreaming of a Jewish Christmas” depicts a journey — a tale of immigrant outsiders who became irreplaceable players in pop culture’s mainstream. They were a generation of songwriters who understood the times they were writing for and who would go on to transform themselves and pop culture at the same time. They found in Christmas the perfect holiday in which to imagine a better world and, for at least one day a year, made us believe in it.
Screening Sunday, Dec. 23 at the JCC
2 p.m. with Kosher “Chinese” nosh to follow
$5 members/$10 community.