Movies and Midrash

Popular Film and Jewish Religious Conversation

Reddit icon
e-mail icon
Twitter icon
Facebook icon
Google icon
LinkedIn icon
Wendy I. Zierler
  • Albany, NY: 
    State University of New York Press
    , September
     328 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.
Review coming soon!

Review by Robert Paul Seesengood forthcoming.


Brings popular cinema and Jewish religious texts into a meaningful dialogue.

Movies and Midrash uses cinema as a springboard to discuss central Jewish texts and matters of belief. A number of books have drawn on films to explicate Christian theology and belief, but Wendy I. Zierler is the first to do so from a Jewish perspective, exploring what Jewish tradition, text, and theology have to say about the lessons and themes arising from influential and compelling films. The book uses the method of “inverted midrash”: while classical rabbinical midrash begins with exegesis of a verse and then introduces a mashal(parable) as a means of further explication, Zierler turns that process around, beginning with the culturally familiar cinematic parable and then analyzing related Jewish texts. Each chapter connects a secular film to a different central theme in classical Jewish sources or modern Jewish thought. Films covered include The Truman Show (truth), Memento (memory), Crimes and Misdemeanors (sin), Magnolia (confession and redemption), The Descendants (birthright), Forrest Gump (cleverness and simplicity), and The Hunger Games (creation of humanity in God’s image), among others.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Wendy I. Zierler is Sigmund Falk professor of modern Jewish literature and feminist studies at Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion and the author of And Rachel Stole the Idols: The Emergence of Modern Hebrew Women’s Writing.

Add New Comment

Reading Religion welcomes comments from AAR members, and you may leave a comment below by logging in with your AAR Member ID and password. Please read our policy on commenting.

Log in to post comments