Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

Top Ten Tough Jewish Movies

February 26, 2013 3:02 am 6 comments

Hebrew Hammer DVD cover. Photo: Wikipedia

In the comedy movie Knocked Up one of the characters says he loves the movie Munich because  in “Every movie with Jews, we’re the ones getting killed. ‘Munich’ flips it on its ear. We’re capping (people)… and taking names.”

As one who owns a PR firm, I have noticed that the portrayal of Jews in movies is often the Woody Allen type, rather than a tough guy. Recently, Arthur Phillips wrote in his New York Times best-seller, The Tragedy of Arthur, “In American literature and movies, the reigning Jew is still the meek scholar or the mild family man, although I’ve lately noticed a growing cinematic population of tough Jews, surprising hero soldiers, rebels, kickers of Nazis ass, the occasional gangster…”

So, while beautiful celebrity Jewish women are front and center, from Scarlett Johansson and Bar Rafaeli, to Natalie Portman and Maggie Gyllenhaal, I believe that tough Jewish movies deserve more attention. Beauty and brawn are both desirable.

Here is my list of the Top 10 Tough Jewish Movies Ever:

  • Defiance: It is impossible to watch this movie as a Jew and not rejoice with pride at the valor of the Bielski brothers and their heroism in fighting the Nazis and in teaching us not just how to fight, but also how to live. Even more impressive is that they were real heroes and saviors of Jews and not merely fictional creations.
  • Exodus: This Zionist epic describes the great tale of the creation of the Jewish state. Starring Paul Newman, it’s a who’s who in Hollywood cast and a must-see.
  • The Avengers: The Marvel superhero movie is the third highest-grossing film of all time with revenues exceeding $1.5 billion. The movie is about good fighting evil, is made by Jewish filmmakers and is created by Austrian-American Jew Jack Kirby. These superheroes aren’t real, but a 1967 book called “The Avengers” documents a group of Holocaust survivors who hunted down Nazis and killed them.
  • Raid on Entebbe: With Charles Bronson playing an Israeli commando, what more can be said? This is based on the actual fantastic and miraculous mission of freeing Jewish hostages being held by Palestinian terrorists at Entebbe Airport in Uganda. Yoni Netanyahu, the brother of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was the commander who orchestrated the rescue mission and was killed as the successful mission ended.
  • Once Upon a Time in America: The epic gangster movie tells the story of Jewish kids on the Lower East Side and their rise to gangster prominence among Italian and Irish mobsters. While not quite a heroic film, it shows Jews in a different time and age when they were seen as weak and timid immigrants, having escaped Russian and Eastern European Persecution in search of the safety of America, as strong and powerful people.
  • Munich: If Israel has taught the world anything, it is that Jewish blood is not cheap. Indeed the Israeli Defense Force will not allow Jews to die in vain. The movie may have its shortcomings, but the daunting Mossad protects Jewish dignity and pride worldwide, and this is a depiction of the hunting down and killing of the terrorists who killed the 1972 Israeli Olympic team in the city that the movie was named for.
  • School Ties: A hard-working Jewish college student must fight anti-Semitism, while being used to win football games for a prep school. Throughout it, the character of David Green remains a mensch.
  • Fiddler on The Roof: Not just a great tough Jew movie, but a great movie all around, the main character Tevye is a real hero. He protects his family and his faith stands up to the thugs who disrupt his daughter’s wedding and is a macho man through and through, and he remains true to his people and his faith throughout.
  • The Hebrew Hammer: While not a great movie, there’s a classic scene which shows a bar fight with skinheads, where the hammer yells: ‘Shabbat Shalom, Motherf******!’ and that alone may be worth watching. Watching him protect the Jewish community gets this movie named to my Top 10 Tough Jewish Movies list.
  • Knockaround Guys: Vin Diesel is the tough guy of a crew of tough guys – and has a huge Star of David tattoo on his arm. He doesn’t lose a fight and is the constant protector.

I always enjoy seeing tough Jews, and the movies that portray them.


Ronn Torossian is an entrepreneur, author and philanthropist. He’s a proud Jew who lives on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

6 Comments

  • willie mays

    A hard-working Jewish college student must fight anti-Semitism, while being used to win football games for a prep school.

    —-well, which is ity? a college student or a prep school? because it can’t be both. is there anyone editing this stuff?

  • “The Avengers” is hardly a movie about tough Jews. It’s a movie made by Jews imagining being tough. “X-Men” at least portrays a fantasy tough Jew (Magneto). Agree, “Inglorious Bastards” depicts tough Jews, but it’s alternate history.

    Of course, there are movies that were never made. “Raid on the Sun”, a book by Roger Claire about the raid on the Iraqi reactor, would make a great “based on actual events” movie about real tough, determined Jews. But in today’s world, a movie portraying Israelis as heroes wouldn’t find much of a market.

  • Hello

    Just wanted to say that I find your content to be superior to a majority of what’s out there. I’ve alas found an oasis of hope in these pages, and thank both the writers/editors, and the readership for offering comments.

    Theory about the omission of the Tarantino flick: Too campy and over the top.

    I also recommend an obscure Russian film entitled ‘Come and See’.

    Jewish resistance fighters battle in Ukraine, during the open-air killings of 1941.
    (Film is not for the feint by any means.)

    Best

  • do tell why Inglorious Bastards isn’t on this list?

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Relationships Yossi Vardi Credits Pushy Jewish Mother for His Startup Success

    Yossi Vardi Credits Pushy Jewish Mother for His Startup Success

    Millionaire entrepreneur Yossi Vardi credited his success in start-ups to his Jewish mother continuously pushing him to do better, Daily Mail reported on Thursday. “Jewish mothers are never satisfied and nothing is ever good enough,” he said, adding that his mother, who died 15 years ago, used to compare him with his cousins and say he was “an idiot.” “For most of my life I have been trying to show her I’m not,” he continued. “I keep on trying even now.” Vardi, […]

    Read more →
  • Theater US & Canada Seth Rogen Unveils New Christmas Movie — ‘Will Open on Thanksgiving, Made by Jews’ (VIDEO)

    Seth Rogen Unveils New Christmas Movie — ‘Will Open on Thanksgiving, Made by Jews’ (VIDEO)

    Famed actor Seth Rogen on Tuesday unveiled with typical comic fanfare the trailer for his new Christmas film. The movie “was made by Jews… and opens on Thanksgiving,” Rogen pointed out on Twitter. The Night Before tells the tale of three “ride or die homies” celebrating one last debauchery-filled Christmas Eve reunion before they become too busy to keep up their annual tradition. In an effort to make the night as memorable as possible, they set out to find the “Nutcracka Ball – the […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish History Art Can Inspire Faith; It Can Also Empower Destructive Ideologies

    Art Can Inspire Faith; It Can Also Empower Destructive Ideologies

    A June 2015 art exhibit, “The Transformative Power of Art,” at the United Nations headquarters in New York City, harnessed the universal language of art to convey an important message: “Our fragile Mother Earth faces the devastating consequences of climate change, a defining challenge of our time.” The exhibit also included sixteen portraits of people from all over the world who have “contributed to the common good of humanity in one way or another and have transformed the way we […]

    Read more →
  • Israel Sports Israeli Muslim Cage Fighter Says He’s Proud to Fight Under Jewish State’s Flag

    Israeli Muslim Cage Fighter Says He’s Proud to Fight Under Jewish State’s Flag

    A 32-year-old Circassian Israeli Muslim Mixed Martial Arts fighter from Abu Ghosh says he takes pride in fighting under the Israeli flag, Israel’s Walla reported on Sunday. Like most Circassian Israelis, Jackie “the Punishment” Gosh was born Sunni Muslim. He became observant about eight years ago, and is now scrupulous in following his religion’s tenets, praying five times a day and fasting during the holy month of Ramadan. Gosh is also very proud of his Israeli nationality, and sees no contradiction between […]

    Read more →
  • Israel Music New Mark Skinner Documentary Explores Jewish, Arab Rap Scene in Israel (VIDEO)

    New Mark Skinner Documentary Explores Jewish, Arab Rap Scene in Israel (VIDEO)

    A new documentary explores the lives and work of Jewish and Arab rappers in Israel and how the ongoing conflict in the region has impacted their lyrics, the U.K.’s Jewish Chronicle reported on Thursday. Hip Hop in the Holy Land is a six-part series co-directed by Mike Skinner, the British frontman of hip-hop group The Streets, and produced by Noisey, a music channel published by Vice news. The first episode, published last week, shows Skinner meeting with Tamer Nafar, the founder of one of […]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada 49ers Running Back Jarryd Hayne Apologizes for ‘Hurtful’ Jesus Tweets

    49ers Running Back Jarryd Hayne Apologizes for ‘Hurtful’ Jesus Tweets

    New 49ers running back and Australian rugby star Jarryd Hayne apologized on Wednesday for a tweet in which he raised the age-old myth that Jews were historically responsible for Jesus Christ’s death. Reaching out to his Jewish fans, and the chairman of the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission, Hayne tweeted: “To the Jewish community @DvirAbramovich #WeAreAllOne.” Underneath, he keenly included a screenshot of a text message to elaborate on his apology: “I sincerely apologize for my tweets on July 1. I […]

    Read more →
  • Theater Israeli Actress Gal Gadot Recalls Being ‘Extremely Surprised’ at Winning Miss Israel Contest

    Israeli Actress Gal Gadot Recalls Being ‘Extremely Surprised’ at Winning Miss Israel Contest

    Israeli actress Gal Gadot reminisced about her childhood in Israel during an interview published in this month’s edition of Vanity Fair. “I don’t remember this, but my mom told me that when I was three they threw a party on the rooftop of the house. They put me to bed, and I heard people coming into the house and no one came to me. I went to the rooftop and took a hose and I started to spray water on everyone, just […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Features Wounded Israeli Soldiers Unite With American Veterans to Help Their ‘Brothers for Life’ Heal (INTERVIEW)

    Wounded Israeli Soldiers Unite With American Veterans to Help Their ‘Brothers for Life’ Heal (INTERVIEW)

    An Israeli organization is helping wounded U.S. veterans move past their physical and psychological challenges by connecting them with injured Israeli soldiers who understand what they’ve been through. “What we discovered very early is that there’s no ‘professional, psychiatrist, social worker’ or anything like that [or] pills that can come even close to helping a soldier who fought in combat, who was wounded, who lost his friends. No one can help him like another person who’s been through exactly what he has,” Rabbi Chaim Levine, […]

    Read more →