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Monday, August 11, 2014

Real Life "Gentleman's Agreement"

I just came across a great real-life story on the very popular blog Israellycool which is bRyan Bellerose who writes of his "week as a Jew." All I could think of was the great movie Gentleman's Agreement starring,  Gregory Peck.

Gentleman's Agreement is a 1947 drama film about a journalist (played byGregory Peck) who goes undercover as a Jew to conduct research for an exposé on antisemitism in New York City and the affluent community of Darien, Connecticut. It was nominated for eight Oscars and won three: Best Picture,Best Supporting Actress (Celeste Holm), and Best Director (Elia Kazan).
The movie was controversial in its time, as was a similar film on the same subject, Crossfire, which was released the same year (though that film was originally a story about homophobia, later changed to antisemitism).Gentleman's Agreement was based on Laura Z. Hobson's 1947 novel of the same name.

And...

I decided that in order to really understand what Jewish people go through, I was going to “become a Jew”. Unlike that dude who tanned and took some pills to become black in that movie, I didn’t really have to do anything difficult. All I had to do to incur the hatred and enmity that comes along with being Jewish, was put on a hat.
I didn’t need to speak, walk or act differently, just put on a hat that identifies me as a Jew. Now think about that. I wore the same clothes I always wear, spoke the exact same way, walked the same way, but by putting on a small piece of woolen apparel, I suddenly became despised to the point where it was uncomfortable for me to walk in certain areas in my own city here in Canada. I had a few people threaten me with physical violence but in all honesty, I am not a small man so I was not concerned. It just made me think about what smaller people must go through, people who do not have my gifts. 
And if that's in relatively tolerant Canada....

2 comments:

Mrs. S. said...

That was also my first reaction to this story! (I actually never saw the movie, but I did read the book on which it's based.)

Batya Medad said...

Like minds...

Mrs. S. I've seen the movie a number of times over the years. It's worth watching, rather brilliant. I never read the book.