Category Archives: Jerusalem Story World

Explore The Story World of Jerusalem for Film, Novel, Stage

History   Bible   Culture   Archaeology    Modernity vs. Antiquity

Do you have a story to tell?

Did you stumble upon a precious artifact on an archaeological dig in Jerusalem’s City of David? Did you visit an ancient mikveh in a Jerusalem neighborhood? Do you know where the graves are of soldiers who fought for the War of Independence in 1948? In Beit Lechem, have you visited the Church of the Nativity? Or in Jerusalem, have you prayed in the Great Synagogue? On a more somber note, have you visited any of the kibbutizim where hundreds of civilians were massacred by Muslim Jihadists on October 7, 2023?

Storytelling through Documentary

Hmmm…There’s a story here…

The Women who Saved the Dagan Hillan article, appearing in Ha Mizrachi

Combining the genres of drama, memoir-true story, and historical epic, a documentary is yet to be made about this stellar moment in modern Israel, based on the antiquity of bygone eras, linked to Jerusalem.

“During the protest, we uncovered man-made shafts in the ground. We called in archeologists to investigate it, and it turns out these shafts were part of an ancient aqueduct system built during the second Temple era, to bring water to Jerusalem – an incredible feat of engineering. The discovery gave us strength; it drove home that these hills belong to us, to our people.” E. H., (appearing in Ha Mizrachi, Chanukah Edition 5784)

1932, Berlin…Storytelling Through Stage Play

Hmmm…There’s a story here…

A Happy End, by Iddo Netanyahu

“The Erdmanns’ life in Berlin is tinged with denial. Not only does acclaimed physicist Mark refuse to admit that his marriage to Leah is coming apart at the seams, but it’s also 1932, and the Erdmanns are Jewish. Family friend Dieter urges them to heed the signs of impending danger and leave while they still can, but Leah considers the city’s cultural scene — and her love affair with Dieter — to be her life. Will the Erdmanns choose to seek an unknown future in America, or will their refusal to see the writing on the wall lead them to stay in Berlin and face certain tragedy?” (from Playscripts)

1940’s America…Storytelling Through Stage Play

Hmmm…There’s a story here…

The Accomplices, by Bernard Weintraub

“Based on actual events, The Accomplices centers on Hillel Kook, who arrives in the United States at the beginning of World War II, fresh from the underground resistance to the British in Palestine. Under the alias Peter Bergson, he leads a small group of activists seeking aid for the rescue of Jews in Europe. Bergson is shocked to find his efforts blocked by both the Roosevelt administration and the Jewish establishment.” (from Playbill)

Storytelling Through Feature Film

The following films have two features in common: They all deal with the Holocaust, and therefore, they are stories of the Jewish people BEFORE the birth of the modern State of Israel, with Jerusalem as the ancient, Biblical, eternal capital of the Jewish people.

For the writer, these films are a turning point in understanding how historical epics can shape a nation and a people through film. Each story employs the genres of memoir-true story/historical epic/drama.

The Pianist

Genres: Drama, Historical Epic, Memoir/True Story

Premise on A Polish Jewish musician struggles to survive the destruction of the Warsaw ghetto of World War II. The Premise Line is the spine of the story, whether the medium is a 400-page novel, a 110- page screenplay, or a 120-page stage play. It can be a marketing tool, but it also keeps the writer focused. Part of the Premise Line is the Inciting Incident, an external event that causes the Hero to engage in action and conflict. Okay – So, what’s the Inciting Incident of The Pianist? It’s when the father of the pianist’s family reads the armband decree that is written in the Polish newspaper for all Jews.

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Porcelain Unicorn

Genre: Memoir/True Story/Drama 3-Minute Short Film
This is a brilliant short film that won many awards. I’ll break the script down into its Story Beats. In just three minutes, all of the Story Beats are there! Please note that dialog does not carry a story, whether it’s a film, stage play, or novel. What carries a story are value systems and moral choices. This film only has seven lines of dialog!

Premise: When a young Nazi boy discovers a young Jewish girl in hiding, he rebels to fend off her capture.
Designing Principle: A boy’s courage when he goes against the norm can overcome oppression.
Theme: Repression cannot stifle human courage.

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The Zookeeper’s Wife

Genres: Drama/Historical Epic/Memoir-True Story

Premise –
The Zookeeper’s Wife is the account of keepers of the Warsaw Zoo, Antonina and Jan Zabinski, who helped save hundreds of Jews and animals during the Nazi invasion of Poland.

As a writer, it is important to know your genres because each genre embodies special story beats. Biography or Memoir-True Story are not really genres, but for the screenplay writer, they are a methodology of how to write a story that is “based on true events.”

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Europa, Europa

Genres: Memoir/True Story/Drama/Historical epic

This is the epic story of war from the perspective of the Hero, a German Jewish 14-year-old teenager caught up in WWII. The Hero’s story of survival in a world gone mad with the backdrop of the Holocaust is but one of the themes running through this story line.

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La Rafflé (The Roundup)

French film with English subtitles
Genres: Drama/Historical Epic/Thriller

Premise according to A faithful retelling of the 1942 “Vel d’Hiv Roundup” and the events surrounding it. I would re-write this Premise: When a young, Christian nurse is caught up in the 1942 “Vel d’Hiv Roundup” in France, she risks her life to provide help and care to the mass of Jewish humanity destined for extermination.

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October 7, 2023… A Day that Shall Live in Infamy

Unspeakable acts of barbarism against innocent civilians occurred on Oct. 7, 2023. Unfortunately, the moral depravity against Israeli civilians and civilians from thirty different countries has forced Israel into a war against Hamas and any other terror organization that seeks the genocidal annihilation of the Jewish people. There are therefore many stories, all difficult to write about that day and the following days…  

Hmmm…There’s a story here…

Peeling the Onion of Collective Conscience

Whether through novel, documentary, feature film, or stage play… For the Jewish people and people of all faiths and backgrounds, in Israel, the barbaric events that occurred on October 7, 2023 shall be sealed in the collective conscience of future generations. Crimes against humanity filmed by terrorists and posted to social media with glee are a particularly vile episode in the saga of the human species.

Key point for the writer: Truth-telling from the heart

The Hollywood film industry oftentimes churns out films about the Jewish people that are forgettable. It is not easy to design a story that will translate to the screen and end up a blockbuster like Exodus

In any case, there is a segment of the population who would prefer independently produced films that are on a much smaller budget, speak to a particular niche audience, and have a defined message to impart. No matter what the medium of the writer’s art or craft, whether it is a stage play, film, novel, or documentary, the point is that with insight into one’s soul and truth-telling from the heart, one can reach heights that never seemed possible. 

Key point for the writer: A High Concept embedded into a story idea

Although weddings are fraught with subplots and angst that it’s all going to “come off” like a calibrated marching band, a wedding is not a story. A death is not a story. A Bar Mitzvah or a christening or a brit milah do not equal a story. A pregnancy is not a story, even if there were complications and the baby died at birth. 

In addition, missing a train, which ended up getting derailed and killing a hundred people is not a story. Missing a bus, which ended up getting blown up in a terror attack is not a story. Missing one of the planes that ended up being highjacked by Islamic Jihadist terrorists who directed planes into skyscrapers, which ended up murdering thousands of innocent people is not a story. ISIS or Hamas or any other designated terrorist group beheading hundreds of human beings is not a story. A little girl getting hit by a car and surviving is not a story.

So what is necessary to create a memorable story about October 7, 2023? Or September 11, 2001? There are unfortunately a plethora of terrorist attacks to choose from. Like a detective, the writer must examine and peel the onion and get to the truth of the overriding question: “what really happened?”

Key point for the writer: Peel the onion, examine core issues, get to the inner voice  

– Create compelling characters who are living in 3-D format and who have flaws
– Craft an unlikely hero who seeks to reach his/her goal despite insurmountable odds / obstacles / setbacks / complications / revelations / opponents
– Structure 27 story beats together with transcending multiple genre story beats
– Learn sequencing and scene structure; outline before even one word is written
– Craft the fate of a nation mirroring the hero’s struggle to reach his/her goal and write the story beats, inherent in a decisive genre mix.