Steven Berkowitz

Heroes and Villains, the Story of Jews at the Oscars

With its mega-glitz, pomp, and out-of-touch wealth, no one ever accused the Oscars of being a reflection of the real world. Yet last night, unknowingly, the 96th Oscars mirrored exactly what’s been happening lately, if not for all time.

No spoiler alert here, for the last five months, the winner for least original screenplay goes to the story of Jews getting blamed for something they didn’t do. Whether it was killing Jesus, the plagues, and now 10.7, we may not have done it or started it, but boy, are we gonna’ get accused of it.

We didn’t start the current Middle East war, yet again find ourselves center stage as the target of a global hate campaign. Jews are being canceled, abused, and sadly, the number of murders keeps rising. The world again wants Israel to fall into the sea, and like centuries before, for Jews to die or convert.

Yet for all the hate, all the boycotts, and all the no-go zones Jews can’t enter in places like Paris and London, the world’s biggest event last night, the 2024 Oscars, was dominated by Jews like no other. Let’s roll the film.

Shiksa, I mean Barbie, was created by Ruth Handler, who in 1916 was born Ruth Moskowitz. She was born to Jewish Polish immigrants, Jacob and Ida Moskowitz, and was the youngest of 10 children.

Leonard Bernstein was one of the greatest composers of the 20th century, and Oppenheimer, also a Jew, was one of the leading physicists on the Manhattan Project. In fact, there were so many Jews on the Manhattan Project who helped America beat Hitler to the bomb and end WWII.

Three out of the 10 best picture nominees, or 30%, were in one way or another, the story of Jews who helped change the world or inspire generations to come.

Whether it’s the percentage of Nobel Prizes we’ve won, or any other endeavor, we always punch well above our weight. And we do so, as Mark Twain said, “with his hands tied behind him.”

At the risk of this becoming an over-budget drama that’s way too long, I’d better make my point. No matter how much the world paints us as the villain, we remain every bit the hero.

They can try to marginalize us, even scheme to annihilate us, yet inconveniently, we continue to innovate and dominate and transform the world. The great irony of course is that it’s the haters who benefit.

Whether people like it or not, we’re never going to roll over and die. We’ll win this war, and the next if there is one. We are the most resilient people on Earth. No matter the odds, no matter the enemy, we will survive, rebuild, and then thrive to the point that we’re hated for it all over again.

Do we deserve to win an award for succeeding against all odds the way we have? Damn right.

About the Author
Steven Berkowitz lives in New York City, writing advertising by day, and by night, sharing thoughts he hopes connect with the broader Jewish world. He hopes his next piece will be a lot funnier, and says, "Sorry about that!"
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