It seems my hometown of St. Louis Park was never in the national or for that matter international spotlight until 2009 when the film “A Serious Man” was released. Its’ producers, the Coen Brothers, decided to make a film about their lives in the same place they grew up. And as it turns out, the Minneapolis Talmud Torah and the same Shul that featured in their pre-Bar Mitzvah years also played a major role in mine as well.
The following link confirms the Shul that we attended which featured in that movie-
You will notice that the picture shows the Shul while it is under construction. I can remember that services were held in a house very close to this construction site before the building was finished. My parents were members, and I assume the same held true for the Coens. There was a board displayed near the entrance containing all families who were Shul members.
Therefore, when it was announced they were making this film, I was interested to have my children watch so they could relive the experiences that I had when I was their age. As it turns out, after seeing the various reviews of the film, I unfortunately had to abandon those plans.
The fact that the film was rated “R” was only one factor; there were other things to consider as well. We are now blessed with a wonder family and enough grandchildren to practically fill up the average classroom (Pre-COVID-19).
The 1967 Six – Day War
By the time my senior year arrived we were all very aware of the threats all the Arab nations were making against Israel. And when the Six-Day War began, we were glued to WCCO Radio which was a CBS affiliate at that time; and still is; to hear the latest developments from the Middle East.
We were busy getting ready for our graduation ceremony on our football field and every morning I would check the news. There was no Internet or Cellphones and as the war started we were plunged into worry if the State of Israel would survive.
It was a time that no Jew in St. Louis Park or for that matter anywhere in the world should have forgotten because the very existence of the State of Israel was at stake.
That Closing Scene
Before I discuss the closing scene, I want to again admit I never saw the film, but have seen many commentaries on “A Serious Man” from many sources. One of the sources is an article appearing in the Independent written by Ed Power on November 19, 2019, titled: A Serious Man at 10: How The Coen Brothers Made The Most Intimate And Puzzling Film Of Their Careers.
Here is the link-
The second paragraph makes reference to the unsettling imagery – that final picture of a tornado bearing down on a school. I searched further for that scene which this article is referring to and I found the following-
We see what I will assume is a classroom in the St. Louis Park Branch of the Minneapolis Talmud Torah which was not the Branch I attended as I previously mentioned in another Blog. The school secretary enters the classroom and informs the Hebrew School teacher a tornado is coming and he instructs his class to form two lines to leave the building and they will go down to the basement of the synagogue. The problem was that the door of the basement would not open and therefore in the final scene the children and teacher are watching as the tornado approaches.
Taking A Closer Look At That Tornado In The Closing Scene-
Everything Appeared Genuine But In 1967 That Tornado – רוח – Never Happened
Please take a good look at the final scene and I can verify that the Coens did an excellent job trying to duplicate an actual scene from St. Louis Park in 1967. The houses and cars looked like they did at that time. The one major problem was that the tornado you see never took place in 1967. In fact, I never remember any tornado touching down in St. Louis Park during the 28 years I lived there.
It seems strange that the Coens invented a tornado in the year of my high school graduation that never took place. But it was pointed out by many commentators the movie never mentions anything about the Six – Day War which took place during that same year.
So perhaps it would have been wise for the Coens to use a genuine scene from the Six – Day War instead of a tornado that never took place to finish the movie and proclaim to the world that G-d does exist and miracles do happen like they did in the Six – Day War.
But Don’t Worry, G-d’s Master Plan Had A Surprise In Store For Us All
The movie was released in 2009 and up until that time there still was no tornado known to have touched down in St. Louis Park. And then two years later that all changed.
May 22, 2011-
PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TWIN CITIES/CHANHASSEN MN
752 PM CDT MON MAY 23 2011
…SURVEY TEAM ASSESSMENT ON THE NORTHERN TWIN CITIES METRO TORNADO
OF SUNDAY AFTERNOON MAY 22ND…
THE TORNADO THAT HIT NORTH MINNEAPOLIS AND OTHER AREAS WILL BE RATED
EITHER AS A STRONG EF1 OR AN EF2.
THERE REMAIN SOME UNCERTAINTIES IN RATING THE TORNADO THAT HIT
NORTH MINNEAPOLIS…ST. LOUIS PARK…GOLDEN VALLEY…FRIDLEY AND
MOUNDS VIEW AND BLAINE SINCE SOME OF THE FIELD INFORMATION GATHERED
STILL NEEDS TO BE PROCESSED. HOWEVER…IT IS SAFE TO SAY THAT IT
WILL BE RATED AS EITHER A STRONG EF1 OR POSSIBLY AN EF2.
THE INITIAL TOUCHDOWN IN ST. LOUIS PARK WAS 3/4 OF A MILE
SOUTH-SOUTHWEST OF THE INTERSECTION OF INTERSTATE 394 AND HIGHWAY
100 WHERE TWO BUSINESSES SUSTAINED ROOF DAMAGE. THE TORNADO MOVED
NORTHEAST…CROSSING HIGHWAY 100 WHERE IT HIT THE FIRST RESIDENCES
ALONG CEDAR LAKE ROAD. IT THEN ENTERED THE SOUTHEAST PORTION OF
GOLDEN VALLEY…CROSSED INTERSTATE 394 AND HEADED FOR THEODORE WIRTH
PARK. DURING THIS TIME IT TOOK A BIT OF A NORTHWARD TURN AND BEGAN
MOVING TO THE NORTH-NORTHEAST. THE TORNADO MOVED ACROSS WIRTH LAKE
AND ENTERED THE CITY OF MINNEAPOLIS BETWEEN GLENWOOD AVENUE AND 16TH
AVENUE. UP TO THIS POINT…DAMAGE WAS EF0 WITH THE VAST MAJORITY OF
THE DAMGE BEING DOWNED TREES ATOP OF BUILDING AND VEHICLES. AS THE
TORNADO ENTERED MINNEAPOLIS, IT STRENGTHENED TO EF1.
Perhaps now it can be said that the mystery surrounding the tornado appearing in the closing portion of the movie was no mystery at all because it never happened.
There is much more to be said and I will continue in my next Blog.