What are your shul’s Christmas-day traditions? For the past few years, the members of Temple Beth Hatfiloh in Olympia, Washington, have gathered for a fun-filled Christmas-day Jewish movie night. Their premiere event in 2004, which featured a showing of Fiddler on the Roof, included a sing-along, costume contest, and a potluck, as well as the now-traditional food and blanket drive benefitting the Olympia Food Bank and other local organizations that support the community.
This year’s film was West Side Story - the romantic Romeo and Juliet adaptation that depicts the inner city New York turf war between the Puerto Rican "Sharks" and the American "Jets." The screening was hosted Beth Hatfiloh’s partner, the Olympia Film Society, which holds special events and shows art house films in its home base at the Capitol Theatre, a local historical landmark located three blocks away from the synagogue, in downtown Olympia.
“It is still a sing-along, but now the only food is OFS’s theater concession stand,” said Temple Beth Hatfiloh’s rabbi, Seth Goldstein, interviewed in Washington's jtnews.net. “We still put the words up using subtitles and have costume contests and prizes. It’s very interactive and a fun way of connecting to the community.”
What makes West Side Story a Jewish movie? Well for starters, the four principals of the movie, Leonard Bernstein, Arthur Laurents, Stephen Sondheim, and Jerome Robbins were all Jewish and, according to the film’s official website, the authors originally intended Maria to be Jewish!