The Jewish experience, from literature to YouTube


The arts have been a significant part of Jewish history since the very beginning, telling our story in the best and worst of circumstances. It has been a way for Jews to maintain a sense of cohesion over time, and a reminder of the tragedies and triumphs we have experienced. Art, whether it is painting, sculpture, theater, music, literature or film, has been a major form of expression for us.

One of the most influential Jewish artists, Marc Chagall, depicted Jewish traditions and themes in his liberal and abstract works. 

Among my favorite films is Steven Spielberg’s award-winning “Schindler’s List,” which brought that time in history to me in such a visceral way. “The Woman in Gold” is a film that captures the pain of families that were forcefully torn apart at the beginning of the Holocaust, as well as telling a story about Jewish art.

In the world of music, George Gershwin is one of my favorites and one of the most significant composers of the 20th century. Jewish melodies in general bring the past, present and future together.

One of the most controversial trials of the 20th century, the Nuremberg trials, was depicted in a 1996 movie, “Judgment at Nuremberg.”  On Saturday, April 2, the Nuremberg trials will be discussed as part of a larger talk on trials that changed America, presented at the One Day University, to be held in the Rhode Island Convention Center. 

The founder and director of One Day University is Steven Schragis, who was inspired to create the day of learning after hearing professors’ lectures while visiting his daughter at college.  More than 15,000 adults have participated in these learning opportunities across the country.

To register for the event in Providence, go to and use the code PAT for a special price of $99 (the regular price is $129) or call 800-300-3438.

I came across a video on YouTube that I feel sums up the Jewish experience.  “I’m That Jew,” by Eitan Chitayat, although somewhat startling, sobering and satirical, gives us a snapshot of the perceptions of Jews by ourselves and others. In the words of Chitayat, “Rise up, speak up and keep your chins up. We’ll get through this because we love life and we’re strong and smart and funny and beautiful and talented and resilient and educated and hard-working and positive and so much more.”  Anyone reading this identify with those words?

PATRICIA RASKIN hosts “The Patricia Raskin Show” on Saturdays at 4 p.m. on WPRO, 630 AM/99.7 FM. Raskin is a board member of Providence’s Temple Emanu-El.