Jewish Wisdom for Goys & Gers


Uomo Moderno at the Screening of The Italian Americans: Book & Movie

Last night I was invited to a screening of a new film with an accompanying book entitled “The Italian Americans,”  both of which examine how, over time, this community shaped and challenged America, focusing on the values that these immigrants carried with them, such as family ties, cuisine, and egalitarian collectivism.

“The Italian Americans” seeks to paint a different picture from that of Hollywood, not only breaking with pervasive stereotypes but also destroying them, by researching the true but painful history of several communities and families.

After the event, as I walked home in the freezing temperatures, I was impressed how many Italian Americans today long for the culture of their immigrant forefathers–a culture that has largely disappeared in both the US and Southern Italy.

At one point after the viewing, someone asked the question: “What will become of the Italian-American community in the US?” I don’t recall anyone answering concretely; I think it is because most Italian Americans seek to define their present experience by looking back in time.

At the moment, Italy is collapsing and a new wave of immigration has been set into motion. Tens of thousands of young people are seeking employment in any country that they might enter. Thousands are seeking work in the US, once again.

What’s interesting is that these young people are now both continuing and redefining the Italian experience in the US; however, they are completely different from the previous waves of immigration and they often go unnoticed.

I think everyone interested in the Italian experience in the US should watch this movie on PBS, as well as read the book. “The Italian Americans” will give you a new, more accurate perspective on the history of this community.

At the same time, it will be interesting to see how this new generation from Italy will affect the US, especially in the big cities where they are creating off-Broadway theaters (like Kairos Italy Theater), hosting TV programs (as Brindiamo!), opening new restaurants with modern cuisines, and launching magazines like Uomo Moderno.

If you would like to meet both the previous generation and the new wave, just come to one of our events in New York!!!

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