The ‘Deli Man,’ the Catskills, and Spock

Documenting Jewish life on screen

Documentaries image
In the center clockwise: Sonia Warshawski, subject and star of Big Sonia, at the wheel of her car. Photo Credit: Gloria Baker Feinstein. A community member carries the Torah around the Sefwi Wiawso Community Synagogue during a group Bar/Bat Mitzvah. Photo Credit: John Canning. Alex Armah holds the Torah during a weekly Shabbat service at the Sefwi Wiawso Community Synagogue. Photo Credit: John Canning. Sonia Warshawski with her iconic Whatever pillow and couch in John’s Tailoring at Metcalf South Mall. Photo Credit: Gloria Baker Feinstein.

In keeping with the theme of real life feeling stranger than fiction these days, we put together a top 10 list of feel-good Jewish-themed documentaries to check out!  

  1. Big Sonia - Sonia Warshawski, a Holocaust survivor with a larger-than-life personality, shares the story of her life and tailor shop. Along the way, she finds a way to keep her shop open when her lease runs up.
  2. Deli Man - Inspired by his grandparents, "Deli Man" Ziggy Gruber takes viewers through his challenging but rewarding career of running a traditional kosher deli in Texas.
  3. Doing Jewish: A Story From Ghana - Canadian filmmaker Gabrielle Zilkha goes to Ghana and helps connect the small Jewish community she finds there to the world. The documentary tells the community's story with a variety of local voices.
  4. For the Love of Spock
    - The son of Jewish actor Leonard Nimoy details his father's over-50-year portrayal of Spock on Star Trek .
  5. If These Knishes Could Talk : The Story of the New York Accent - New York has played an important part in Jewish life in America, and the vernacular has become familiar to many. This documentary features New Yorkers describing the origin of the different accents and expressions that are used in different parts of the city.
  6. If You're Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast - Recently deceased actor and comedian Carl Reiner shares tips about living into your 90s in this comedic documentary about his life and the aging process.
  7. Oma & Bella - Two Holocaust survivors living together and taking care of each other share sweet stories of their lives and decades-long friendship through food.
  8. Streit's Matzo and the American Dream - While many people eat Streit's products every year at Passover, few people know the history of the company in New York. This documentary showcases the history and legacy of the matzah company, part of many American Passover celebrations.
  9. The Four Seasons Lodge
    - Join a yearly reunion of a group of Holocaust survivors in a bungalow colony in the Catskills. This documentary provides a deep look at the intimate relationships of these people who only see each other once a year but their history makes them family.
  10. Welcome to Kutsher's: The Last Catskills Resort - This documentary gives a history of Sullivan County and how Jews created the Borsht Belt, and relives the heyday of Kutsher's, a community institution open for over a century. 


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