Men behind Call Me by Your Name discuss Jewish identity at JW3

Howard Rosenman, producer of the critically-acclaimed 2017 film, said 'The only time I’ve ever felt antisemitism was in Hollywood'


The two men behind the critically-acclaimed film Call Me by Your Name recounted their contrasting experiences of Jewish identity at a packed JW3 this week.

The second edition in the cultural centre’s Global Jewish Conversations series, supported by Genesis Philanthropy Group, saw Egyptian-Jewish author André Aciman and acclaimed Hollywood producer Howard Rosenman take to the stage.

Rosenman produced the Oscar-winning 2017 adaptation of Aciman’s novel, which was published a decade before the movie’s release.

On stage with Rosenman and host Dr Julia Wagner, Aciman recounted his experiences growing up Jewish in Alexandria, where he said he “paid a price for being Jewish” in “rabidly antisemitic” Egypt.

He said: “I felt antisemitism every single day at school. It has an effect on who you become.”

In contrast, Rosenman said his own identity was inspired by the concept of a “new Jew” that emerged alongside the birth of the State of Israel.

Although he grew up in New York, Rosenman described Israel as “the single most important thing to me”

He served as a volunteer medic in Israel during the Six Day War – but a chance encounter with American composer Leonard Bernstein in Jerusalem prompted him to leave behind medicine for the movie industry.

Rosenman also claimed to have never experienced antisemitism outside of Hollywood, saying “in Hollywood, they conflate the Netanyahu Government with Israel, so they hate anything that has to do with Israel.”

He added: “Israel is the flashpoint of antisemitism which has existed for thousands of years. Anti-Zionism is used to express antisemitism.”

Speaking after the event, JW3 CEO Raymond Simonson said it was “particularly pleasing” the event attracted a “diverse audience”, adding that he was “delighted to have hosted two award winning giants in the world of the arts to discuss the influence of Judaism on their work and the wider issues Jews across the Diaspora are facing today.”

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