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The organization best known for the Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival is finally returning with a second Jewish New Media Festival, three and a half years after the first one. The event is set for May 21 and 22 at the Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History, and is free and open to the public.
A long way back
Back in December of 2019, the organization now known as Philadelphia Jewish Film & Media held its first-ever Jewish New Media Festival. The event featured live podcasts, workshops, and a workshop on Tikkun Olam, the Jewish concept of “repairing the world.” The start of the pandemic followed months later, followed by the 2021 change in the name of the organization from Gershman Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival to Philadelphia Jewish Film and Media (PJFM).
“It was so new for us when we started in 2019,” PJFM program director Matthew Bussy told BSR. “In 2021, when we officially changed our name and we added media to our title and to our mission, that’s when we really made it important for us to bring this to PJFM, and really showcase Jewish content creators from around the world.”
The rapper Kosha Dillz is featured in the first event, Artistry Through a Digital Lens, on Sunday, May 21. In an interview with local podcaster Dan Drago, Kosha Dillz will discuss how new media has helped his career and the lessons others can learn.
Kosha Dillz, whose real name is Rami Matan Even-Esh, is the New Jersey-born son of Israeli immigrants to the US. A rapper since the 1990s, Kosha Dillz is known for Instagram videos in which he freestyles on the streets of Brooklyn.
Following Kanye West’s antisemitic comments last year, Kosha Dillz recorded an anti-Kanye diss track called “Death Con 3," which rhymed “Call me fake Hebrew/blamed for living life” with “Rabbi Heschel, MLK marched 54 for civil rights.” The second half of the rhyme referenced Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel marching the 54 miles from Montgomery to Selma alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1965.
“The great thing about Kosha Dillz … is that he’s putting a Jewish spin on songs," Bussy said. “They’re so funny, they’re catchy, and he’s just such a character. He just represents that child in us, who just wants to go out and perform live, and celebrate our Judaism.”
The next event, Jewish Pride Through a Digital Lens, features Karen Cinnamon, the British creator who has been described as the "Oprah of Jewish Joy” and “Queen of Jewish Positivity.” Cinnamon is the founder of the online platform Your Jewish Life Your Way and the Jewish wedding website Smashing the Glass.
“She’s really all about celebrating Jewish women,” Bussy said of Cinnamon, noting her 100,000 Instagram followers. “It’s a podcast, it’s a platform, where she emphasizes that there’s no right way to be Jewish. If you are Jewish, you can celebrate Judaism in your way, because it’s your journey, it’s your life.”
The third event is called Storytelling Through a Digital Lens and features the PJFM New Media Fellows named last summer: Caroline Hawthorne, Zoe Feldman, and Eva Schenck. “We got these three incredible individuals,” Bussy said. “The purpose of the Jewish New Media Fellowship was basically to create a digital venture, like create digital content of some kind that celebrates Jewish storytelling and Jewish digital content.”
Hawthorne created a TikTok comedy series called Babushka and Billie, while also running PJFM’s TikTok channel. Feldman started a podcast called A Jewish Jawn, featuring interviews with local Jewish artists. Schenck hosted an online contest for Hanukkah-related art. They will be interviewed by Ben Barnett of the Philadelphia Independent Film Festival.
The schedule for the festival has changed since it was first announced, with a previously announced live event featuring the hosts of the Unorthodox podcast dropped from the lineup.
Above: Kosha Dillz takes the stage on Sunday, May 21. (Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival.)
What, When, Where
2023 Philadelphia Jewish Film and Media Festival. Free. Sunday, May 21, and Monday, May 22, 2023,at Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History, 101 S Independence Mall E, Philadelphia. (215) 545-4400 or phillyjfm.org.
The museum entrance is wheelchair accessible. All floors, including gallery, dining, and store levels are accessible and can be reached by elevator.
Standard wheelchairs are available on a limited basis at the admissions desk. Reservations cannot be reserved in advance; they are first-come, first-served. They are free of charge, but a form of ID is required in exchange.
Sensory backpacks are available on a first-come, first-served basis and can be reserved at the front desk. Backpacks contain emotion, action, and general museum communication cards, noise-reducing headphones, a weighted compression shoulder pad, fidget tools, and tinted glasses to avoid overstimulation.
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