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Targum Shlishi Supports Film and Book Projects: A Roundup of Selected Recent Initiatives

February 9, 2014 – Targum Shlishi recently has supported several film and book projects with modest grants, a selection of which are listed below. “These projects, while not related thematically, captured our attention due to both the importance of the subject matter and the dedication and passion of the individuals behind them—in many cases, these projects represent years of very hard work on the part of their creators. It is an honor to help support these efforts,” says Aryeh Rubin, director of Targum Shlishi.


Above and Beyond: The Birth of the Israeli Air Force, documentary film, Playmount Productions
This film focuses on foreign airmen in Israel’s War of Independence—in 1948, a group of Second World War pilots, primarily American, volunteered to fight for Israel. These members of Machal (volunteers from abroad) were pivotal in Israel’s victory and in establishing the groundwork for the Israeli Air Force. This is the first major feature-length documentary about these men and includes interviews with several of the pilots and many others. The film, produced by Nancy Spielberg, is currently in post-production and expected to be shown at film festivals beginning in fall 2014. The film’s publicity materials are eloquent as to the personal service of these men: “At a time when much of the world stood by, unwilling to help a fledgling nation under attack, a tiny band of airmen answered the call for help. They risked their citizenship, their futures and even their lives.” To learn more, visit Playmount Production’s website.

L’Chaim, documentary film, Elkan Spiller
Award-winning filmmaker Elkan Spiller has just finished work on L’Chaim and is currently applying to film festivals, seeking distribution, and fundraising for this next stage. L’Chaim is a feature documentary about the relationship between a Holocaust survivor and her adult son, who after years of world travel and various successful (if eccentric) business ventures, devotes his life to caring for her. The film is both a particular story about altruistic love and deep humanity and a larger commentary on ways in which the trauma of the Holocaust affects the next generation, the children of survivors. Spiller spent years shooting the footage for the documentary, much at his own expense. A short film drawn from this material, Mama L’Chaim, won several awards internationally, including first prize from the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust short film festival. To learn more, visit the film’s Facebook page.


The Disputes Between Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel by Rabbi Dr. Nachman Cohen
The Disputes Between Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel, the seventh and eighth volumes of The Encyclopedia of Talmudic Disputes and Perspectives, is presently being prepared for publication by Rabbi Dr. Nachman Cohen as part of his Talmud and Midrash Project. The more than three hundred disputes between the Houses represent virtually the oldest Talmudic disputes. An understanding of how and why they developed will help scholars and laymen better understand the nature and ramifications of disputes throughout the Talmud. Cohen is the founder and director of Torah Lishmah Institute, and he is also a research professor at RIETS and adjunct professor at the Azrieli Graduate School of Yeshiva University. He is the founding rabbi of Young Israel Ohab Zedek of North Riverdale/Yonkers, and is chairman of the Board of the Association of Orthodox Jewish Scientists. Among many other accomplishments, he has been a dean and Rosh Yeshiva for over forty years. He is the author of the highly acclaimed Master a Mesikhta Series, Mirrors of Eternity, Esther’s Plea, The Historical Haggadah, ATime for all Things, and Bar/Bat Mitzvah and Beyond.

In Former Times: A Twentieth Century Jewish Life (working title), Meri-Jane Rochelson
Targum Shlishi helped support research for Meri-Jane Rochelson’s book in progress, a work that combines elements of her father’s memoir with commentary informed by extensive research. As she explains, “my father’s story is worth telling and publishing, and it resonates beyond his own experience to the twentieth-century history of Jewish in Lithuania.”  Eli G. Rochelson was born in Kovno, Lithuania, in 1907, received a medical degree, and was imprisoned in the Kovno Ghetto with his wife and son until the ghetto was liquidated in July 1944. He was sent to Dachau along with his son, while his wife was sent to Stutthof. He survived, but his wife and child did not. He made his way to the U.S., began a new family, and worked as a physician in Brooklyn until his death in 1984. His audiotaped memoir forms the core of the book; Meri-Jane augments his account with a commentary that incorporates material from family letters and other documentation as well as extensive research at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, Yad Vashem, the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, and other archives. She is the author of A Jew in the Public Arena: The Career of Israel Zangwill (Wayne State University Press, 2010) and a professor of English at Florida International University.

Turn It and Turn It Again: Studies in the Teaching and Learning of Classical Jewish Texts, edited by Jon A. Levisohn and Susan P. Fendrick (Academic Studies Press, 2013)
This is the first publication from the Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education at Brandeis. It is a collection of pieces that explore the teaching of biblical and rabbinic literature and grew out of conferences held by the Mandel Center. The collection addresses a need in Jewish education—while the study of classical Jewish texts is robust, there has not been a great deal produced on the practices and purposes of such study and aspects of teaching this material. This volume is intended to be a resource for those who teach Jewish texts in all contexts—day schools, summer camps, adult education, synagogues, universities, and yeshivot.

About Targum Shlishi

Targum Shlishi, a Raquel and Aryeh Rubin Foundation, is dedicated to providing a range of creative solutions for problems facing Jewry today. Premised on the conviction that dynamic change and adaptation have historically been crucial to a vibrant and relevant Judaism and to the survival of its people, Targum Shlishi’s initiatives are designed to stimulate the development of new ideas and innovative strategies that will enable Jewish life, its culture, and its traditions to continue to flourish. For more information on the foundation, visit its website at


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