First Date at…the Holocaust Museum?

There’s a short film in this year’s Sundance Film Festival called The Pity Card that has to be either the funniest Holocaust film ever produced or the worst. It is definitely a generational piece because those younger than me who have seen it certainly find it more appealing than those of my generation will. It is true that there are few creative ways left to introduce the topic of the Holocaust today (especially when the trends in Jewish education are more about celebrating the positive and less about mourning the negative in our history), but this film finds one.

The premise is that a young man takes a woman to the Holocaust Museum in Washington on their first date. A whacky premise, especially when his date happens not to be Jewish. But that’s the genius of the film. How do Jews and non-Jews interact over monumental Jewish events like the Holocaust that have changed the course of human history? The film accepts the premise that Jews will date and marry non-Jews, and pokes fun at the awkwardness that might still exist in sharing the cultural awareness that comes with it. [NOTE: adult language in the film.]

Also in the Festival this year is a short film by our friend Tiffany Shlain called The Tribe, a kind of funky “mocumentary” about Jews, also from the perspective of the younger generations. Beyond all else, this film confirms what we have learned and been teaching about not trying to reach the new generation of Jews through “old school” approaches to affiliation and institutional membership. It is clear that Jewish creativity is alive and well and living at Sundance.


  1. I think “The Pity Card” gets even funnier the second time you watch it. The director, Bob Odenkirk, was part of the comedy duo behind the HBO series “Mr. Show with Bob and Dave.” And the leading man in this short is currently in a Domino’s Pizza commercial that anyone who watches pro football has seen a thousand times, where he is a Domino’s employee taking a phone order (you only hear his side of the conversation) and at the end of it he says, “I, uh, I love you too, sir.”

    Comment by Scott Egolinsky — January 27, 2006 @ 10:49 am

  2. I liked this film a lot. It’s reminiscent of the “Survivor” episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, all part of a new breed of post-Holocaust humor that finds absurdity in the clash between the horrors of the Holocaust and the comfort of the contemporary American Jewish experience - particularly among younger generations (hence part of its appeal to younger people). The premise of the film — that the woman has never heard of the Holocaust — is hilarious in and of itself.

    Comment by EV — January 27, 2006 @ 1:05 pm

  3. Yeah, that was a good line when she says, “They should TELL people about this!” And he’s like, “I think most people kind of, uh, already know…”

    Comment by Scott Egolinsky — January 27, 2006 @ 4:00 pm

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