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March 9, 2022 12:26 pm

Jewish Non-Profit Launches ‘Hollywood Bureau’ for More Accurate Portrayal of Jews on Screen

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

(From left) Kive (Michael Aloni), Shulem (Dovale Glickman) and Nuchem (Sasson Gabay) in a scene from season 3 of the acclaimed Israeli TV series “Shtisel.” Photo: Courtesy of yes Studios.

A Jewish non-profit based in New York will open later this month a new “Hollywood Bureau,” with a focus on promoting better representation of Jews in the media, the organization announced on Wednesday.

Launched in 2007, Jew in the City (JITC) is the only non-profit “dedicated to changing negative perceptions of religious Jews and making engaging and meaningful Orthodox Judaism known and accessible,” according to its website.

JITC’s new bureau will provide consultants to work directly on TV and film productions, sponsor impact studies, build a “writers’ lab,” and give out awards for positive Jewish representation in the media, the non-profit said. JITC’s first Media Awards on March 21 also mark the bureau’s launch.

“We recently learned that virtually every other minority group has a mechanism for authentic and fair depictions in Hollywood,” JITC’s founder and executive director Allison Josephs told The Algemeiner on Wednesday. “We’d been relying on social media and news articles all these years because we didn’t know that there was something more official. Once we discovered that this whole space exists, it was the rational next step for our organization.”

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She added, “While we were founded to combat negative perceptions of Orthodox Jews, many non-Orthodox Jews have asked us to make the fight broader, to ensure that antisemitic stereotypes and cartoonish depictions of Jews have no place in modern media. As antisemitic attacks are up in recent years, how we are shown in media is an angle we must not ignore.”

The bureau’s team has already met with several existing groups that also focus on better representation as well as inclusivity, including the NAACP, the National Association of Latino Independent Producers, the disability-focused non-profit RespectAbility and MPac. Leaders of those groups have made introductions between JITC representatives and top entertainment executives and networks, with progress already being made in building those partnerships. JITC also said it had “very positive meetings” with NBC and CBS, “with more meetings being set up.”

JITC is currently filming a documentary with PhilmCo Media examining the issues behind Jewish portrayal and representation in Hollywood since its founding and until today, and how these problems can fuel antisemitism.

JITC’s Media Awards in New York City will include the New York premiere of “Rock Camp: The Movie,” a new film starring David Fishof, an Orthodox Jewish music agent who started the famous Rock’ N’ Roll Fantasy Camp. Fishof will receive the first-ever JITC Media Awards at the event for his “authentic and positive portrayal as a religious Jew.”

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