Oy vey! Kikes kvetch about kikery!

Re: Julia Vyachyeslavovna Lipnitskaia, Юлия Вячеславовна Липницкая); Christian, with Kike choreographer.

@ Vancouver Games:

Skating to Schindler’s List

Yulia Lipnitskaya’s Olympic performance: breathtaking or bad taste?

by Yvette Alt Miller, Aish.com [Chabad-Lubabitch]

Russian figure skater Yulia Lipnitskaya’s breathtaking Olympic performance was memorable for many reasons. Flawlessly executing one demanding move after another, the 15 year old protégée became one of the youngest skaters ever to win the gold; her free skating routine brought the Olympic crowd to its feet and earned her a standing ovation.

But Lipnitskaya’s choice of music and costume has provoked comments too. Skating to the melancholy theme from the movie Schindler’s List – composed by John Williams and performed by Israeli violinist Yitzhak Perlman in 1994 – her free style program evoked the film’s mood. Lipnitskaya’s identification with the film was taken even further by her choice of costume: she wore a red outfit, reminding fans of the red coat worn by a little girl in what is perhaps Schindler’s List’s most moving scene, when a young child in red (one of the only colors to appear in this otherwise black and white movie) is shown running through the Krakow Ghetto during its brutal liquidation in 1943 by the Nazis.

Reaction to Lipnitskaya’s tribute to Schindler’s List has been mixed. “Schindler’s List: on Ice!” was the tweeted reaction of one fan; another asked when The Diary of Anne Frank would become an ice routine. Others, like the BBC, defended Lipnitskaya’s choices, calling her program beautiful and tasteful.

Lipnitskaya’s use of Schindler’s List imagery and music show just how universal the appeal of this powerful movie is. But using it in this way risks turning the film – and the events it depicts – into kitsch: a form of shorthand that allows us to tap into to emotions we haven’t really earned. Referencing the girl in the red coat is a way of evoking the emotions and feel of the movie’s powerful scene without asking that we do any of the thinking that actually leads us to those emotions.

What is the red coat scene about? Krakow had been home to Jews since the Middle Ages. During the Nazi occupation of Poland, Jews from Krakow, as well as from surrounding villages and towns, were confined to a Ghetto in the city, circled by barbed wire fences and walls, and were forced into labor in a number of factories, including Oskar Schindler’s. Many Jews were deported from the Ghetto to death camps, and on March 13-14, 1943, what remained of the ghetto was officially liquidated: 2,000 Jews were shot and the rest were transported to the Plaszow forced labor camp and to Auschwitz.

Much of the power from the scene in the film comes from its background music: the famous Jewish song about children called Oyfn Pripetchik, whose lyrical chords sound much like the famous Schindler’s List theme. Written by a Jewish Ukrainian lawyer, Mark Warshawsky, in the late 1800s, Oyfn Pripetchik became a hit in Yiddish-speaking communities across the globe.

Oyfn Pripetchik describes a world in which anti-Semitism is always present, in which Jews are threatened with tears, with danger, with exile from their land of Israel – but in which they respond to danger with strength, and counter hardship with optimism.

Understanding what it means to be a Jew is the best defense against anti-Semitism.

The song is deceptively simple: it’s about a rabbi teaching a class of tiny children the letters in the Hebrew alphabet. Through cajoling and bribes, he gets them to pay attention. He warns them of the many obstacles they will face: it’s difficult to begin learning something new; they might be threatened, or buffeted by fate. But, he stresses, the potential the Hebrew letters – and Jewish learning in general – will open up for them will sustain them through all dangers.

Understanding what it means to be a Jew is the best defense against anti-Semitism.

There are a few versions of Oyfn Pripetchik in circulation; below are the words to one. You can also hear Sam Glaser sing it here:

Yiddish Medley

Produced and Arranged by Sam Glaser
from the album The Songs We Sing

(Refrain): Oyfn pripetshik brent a fayerl,
Un in shtub iz heys,
Un der rebe lernt kleyne kinderlekh,
Dem alef-beys.
On the hearth, a fire burns,
And in the house it is warm.
And the rabbi is teaching little children,
The Hebrew alphabet.
Zet zhe kinderlekh, gedenkt zhe, tayere,
Vos ir lernt do;
Zogt zhe nokh a mol un take nokh a mol:
Komets-alef: o!
See, children, remember, dear ones,
What you learn here;
Repeat and repeat yet again,
A Komets’alef sounds like o!
Lernt, kinder, mit groys kheyshek,
Azoy zog ikh aykh on;
Ver s'vet gikher fun aykh kenen ivre -
Der bakumt a fon.
Learn, children, with great enthusiasm.
So I instruct you;
He among you who learns Hebrew pronunciation faster -
He will receive a flag.
Lernt, kinder, hot nit moyre,
Yeder onheyb iz shver;
Gliklekh der vos hot gelernt toyre,
Tsi darf der mentsh nokh mer?
Learn children, don't be afraid,
Every beginning is hard;
Lucky is the one has learned Torah,
What more does a person need?
Ir vet, kinder, elter vern,
Vet ir aleyn farshteyn,
Vifl in di oysyes lign trern,
Un vi fil geveyn.
When you grow older, children,
You will understand by yourselves,
How many tears lie in these letters,
And how much lament.
Az ir vet, kinder, dem goles shlepn,
Oysgemutshet zayn,
Zolt ir fun di oysyes koyekh shepn,
Kukt in zey arayn!
When you, children, will bear the Exile,
And will be exhausted,
May you derive strength from these letters,
Look in at them!

Published: February 11, 2014

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About the Author: Yvette Alt Miller earned her B.A. at Harvard University. She completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Jewish Studies at Oxford University, and has a Ph.D. In International Relations from the London School of Economics. She lives with her family in Chicago, and has lectured internationally on Jewish topics. Her book Angels at the table: a Practical Guide to Celebrating Shabbat takes readers through the rituals of Shabbat and more, explaining the full beautiful spectrum of Jewish traditions with warmth and humor. It has been praised as "life-changing", a modern classic, and used in classes and discussion groups around the world.

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Visitor Comments:

PhilosophyMom: The nature of artistic expression. I respecfully disagree with the author. This young girl of 15 years chose music to skate to that apparently had a very strong emotional effect on her. Through her artistic interpretation on the ice, she successfully conveyed that emotionalism to the audience and the judges. If one were to take the author's argument further, we would need a clear understanding of the history of Chagall in order to appreciate his work. How many audience members who saw Fiddler on the Roof without being Jewish or from a shtetel shoulld be allowed to enjoy the musical? This thinking would make it impossible to relate to art in any meaningful way unless the work was an interpreted in one way only. Watching this Olympicperformance brought tears to my eyes. Yes, I understood the historical references in the movie the musical theme was from, but her beautiful interpretation of William's haunting piece reminded me also of my Russian great-grandparents and the torment they suffered during the progroms. Does this mean that I did not watch the performance with the necessary frame of reference and therefore my experience was somehow less authentic? It seems unfair to dictate one's response to artistic interpretation. We do not know what Maestro Williams was thinking about when he composed this incredible piece of music and frankly, whatever it was remains immaterial. No one should take it upon themselves to criticize artistic interpretation, other than to speak for themselves. I, for one, thought it was beautiful. We always bring who we are to our view of an artist's work. It was Marx who said that art must represent the state of affairs that gives birth to it so that it is interpreted correctly and we get the correct meaning from it since it is only the political state that should be referenced in all of art. Dictating the correct meaning of art is a dangerous proposition.

Jaames: Absolutely Breathtaking. I wept. One of the most beautiful pieces of music ever written, brilliantly interpreted by an astoundingly beautiful girl on skates. Bad taste? Did any moron who who suggest that actually watch her performance? I wept real tears, and have since watched it many times over with the same effect.

Margarita: emotions over figure skating. the girl is not Jewish, but her choreographer is Jewish and identifies himself as one. not sure what they were trying to achieve by that dance, but maybe nothing really except a high score? maybe we are over-thinking the performance? i think that she has exploited our feelings (knowingly or unknowingly is a big question), and that is important for me - knowingly or not????

Andrea: Julia isn't the first & won't be the last. Am I the only one who remembers the German Olympic champion, Katarina Witt? After turning pro, she gave a professional competitive performance to the same music. Can you guess what she was wearing? Yes, a red dress, playing the character of the little girl. Figure skaters don't have 2 hours to tell a story. They rely on popular references, costumes, facial expression, movement & music to pull you in and tug on your heartstrings. They're trying to tell a story in about 4 minutes. So of course they take these shortcuts. No one ever said they were creating educational documentaries for the masses! Figure skating is (usually) a graceful ART form. Art is meant to trigger emotion & get us as humans to think. I don't believe that either the German Witt or Russian Lipnitskaia were trying to celebrate Hitler or the near extinction of Jews. They were trying to tap emotion. And they sure succeeded!

Chana Parnes: Don't Just Feel The Emotions- Do Some Reflection First. Very well put: Referencing the girl in the red coat is a way of evoking the emotions and feel of the movie’s powerful scene without asking that we do any of the thinking that actually leads us to those emotions.

Anonymous: whoops .... sorry folks... Perlman is an American citizen, maybe Israel born, but still, an American ...

basha: nish git. Yes it was beautiful, but would it still be beauitiful if she had no skates, no food, no clothes and and no liberty for a situation which the music was written for? again, it was as beautiful as a ripe apple with a rotting core, This music should have remained for the memory of those lost to ignorance, evil and stupidity.

Joy: Skater is Jewish. I read that Julia Lipnitskaya is Jewish! Not sure how true that is, but that would make her choice even more appropriate.

Russell: Breathtaking. The skating program was meaningful, and I was moved by it. The thought a figure skating program would trivialize the Holocaust is as silly as alleging a movie would do the same. What does lessen the impact is when people write meaningless articles to stir up awareness through fabricated controversy. Please save the "bad taste" card for when it's really needed.

ralph: For me the choice of the musc by the young Russian girl deserves great respect . The Olympic Committee refused to remember at the Olympic Games 2012 in London the Israeli athletes who were murdered by Palestinian terrorists at the Summer Olympiades of Munich1972.

Anonymous: This question upsets me. In bad taste? How? Do we forget how many Russians were put in camps too? Do we forget the Gentile children, gypsies, handicapped, Jehovas Witnesses, Polish, French etc.? Do we forget somewhere around 75 human beings were killed in WW2 because of the Nazis? I'm a Jew and very happy to be a Jew. I love Israel and hate that HaShoah happened. I am an activist against any genocide and get as involved with the USHM as I can (we were just there again two weeks ago) BUT the Jews do not own HaShoah. We were not the only ones in those camps. A Russian Olympian choosing music to remind the world of a horrible time is her personal and national right and I applaud it.

Anonymous: Typo - sorry. I meant to say 75 million human beings not 75. Emotion travels through keyboards :)

Anonymous: We will never forget, thanks to moments like this. Schindler's List was a great movie that shed more light on a horrific event that should never be forgotten so it is never repeated. It is forgotten when those of us responsible for its remembrance refuse to let others bring it to light again. I thank this 15 year old for doing something many of us elders have not and that is to continue to make sure we all remember. It may have not been her intention. Some say it makes light of it. I say I am glad the world is talking about it again. We must remember and what better way than to see a 15 year old girl, from a country that lost 20 million in that war against the Nazi's, see her dreams come true. You got the gold, and my thanks for letting us all remember so that we never forget.

Edna Turner: Skating to Schindler's list was a reminder of one tiny bright light in the horrific tragedy of the Shoah. The young Russian breathtaking 15 yr old skater should be applauded as should her coach, for having chosen such a score, so full of depth. She skated to the memory of the Shoah victims, and also for the children, who experienced such a traumatic nightmare. A Memorial Candle, lighting the remembrance of the children who were murdered, and a blessing to the children holocaust survivors. We Jews all over the world should be thankful for such a beautiful gift by this outstanding young skater, and her coach.

Moiraz: Really unimportant. It doesn't really matter if her performance was inspired by Schindler's list or not. She was just a very good skater. Most people wouldn't recognize the music. I did wonder at her outfit but only because it was more modest than most of the other skater's costumes. I have the video of Schindler's list and have watched it many times. It doesn't depress me. I admired the courage portrayed in the movie.

David Montefiore: What does oyfn pripichock have to do with anything? What is interesting is the tears on my wife face as this little Russian girl evoked the emotions that lay dormant in our beings -unless jarred into reality - sometimes by art! It is nevertheless interesting to note that Obama has not embraced Jerusalem - the modern Ghetto of our Jewish refugees but Putin could and did have a young Russian girl dance superbly to remind us, yes us of a world turned against us in WWII. Remember, the Russians lost 20 million souls in WWII and Jews might not have survived had it not been for the help from the Soviets from the East. Alt Miller shows her transparent ideology while hobnobbing with Obama at Harvard.

Tatyana: Who's choice? Why are we talking about Yulia's choice of the music and dress? She's only 15! Don't forget that she has a COACH!!!! It's their choice, not her's. Whether or not you or me like it but I have to agree that the whole world heard a JEWISH music and a JEWISH theme and ENJOYED it. As you can tell I'm from Russia and I've lived with siblings anda widowed mother who never talked about Holocost, never taught us about jewdaism but always cried listenind to Jewish music. So did I!

Chaya: What's the problem? I saw the movie a long time ago. I did not even connect the skater's red outfit with the girl in the movie. I assumed it was more for Russia. The music is haunting in its own right. I don't think it was in bad taste at all. Perhaps it the beautiful music will inspire people to find out about its origins.

Auriel: I saw Hope. Hauntingly beautiful. Yulia is more than athlete, she's an artist, and with every fluid, graceful, movement, she told a powerful story. Art in all its forms, is a very personal thing. The art one creates is an expression of the world as they see it. Others may not get it, or them for that matter. Much like music. A song may sound heavenly to some, while others listening only hears a jarring cacophony of noise. My ancestors came here from Russia. Babushka had terrible scars but didn't discuss it. When asked a pained expression came over her, she paused, then said in broken English... "from escaping". She lived life in fear.
Russia, Poland, Ukraine, etc.... historically unkind to the Jews. The discrimination has gone on for centuries despite the Jewish peoples contributions to society and their military service. But attitudes are changing. I saw the significance of a Russian girl with an audience of millions, connecting with that music and acknowledging the history of the Jewish people in her part of the world. I saw hope blossom. Much like when the Turetsky Choir sang Hebrew songs at the Kremlin Palace. And the flood of emotions felt when metal Polish band, Rootwater, recorded Hava Nagila. Singing about "The mother of my mother who kept silent", the "father of my mother he didn't say a word". And crying out to his grandmother, "Miriam, mother of my mother", who was slaughtered. It's a message about anti-Semitism, hidden roots, those that know about them, and the shame and silence. He ISN'T silent anymore. A common story My ancestors tried to keep the secret, even from us! Though Jewish, I also have Russian blood, so it's difficult to explain the emotions evoked by Yulia's performance. Like choirs singing Hebrew in the Kremlin and Slavic metal bands singing openly about Jewish roots, all of these...... little sign posts of hope.

Donn: I Agree, (your words are true to my heart and soul) she brought beauty, hope and power to an otherwise sad and terrible time.

Anonymous: yes i understand your emotions and I totally agree. it is hard having Russian ancestory and being Jewish - I remember what my father told about the Czars and how they took the young men into his armies - that's when they left - each one coming and sending for the next one - how they walked from Poland to eventually get to the US

CMedansky: Thank you for this beautiful article. I totally agree, "Understanding what it means to be a Jew is the best defense against anti-Semitism."

Anonymous: It is what it is. Kitsch.

Chris Yaren: We define the meaning. We create the meaning in our lives. She did not project any one meaning: like any piece of art, meaning comes from the beholder. The author submits that we can somehow tap into an emotion that we havent earned. I submit this is impossible. Either we saw the movie and relate her performance to the emotions we had or we didnt see it and had an emotion based on the tune and the skating...in either case we are having emotions by "earning" them. I think that it is disempowering to presume, without fact, that the performance was without merit for the Jewish people. Let's use our power of action and continue the story. How many times do we get to talk to and teach our non-Jewish colleagues about the Shoah...to prevent it from being forgotten...Isn't that a worthy outcome. Yulia, thank you for creating the spark that ignited this and other conversations around the world. May it be for good!

GHW: How rude of you , your comments about Christians. Roy on message 15, yours, (, how rude that you chose to call out those Christians and killing our GOD ), concerning a teenagers skating , her music selection. which had NOT ONE thing to do with her lovely skating program. I suggest you get a grip on your typing fingers when next time you can comment without being most unkind to anyone or religion.

Anonymous: I suspect that Julia is Jewish and May or may not be able to express this openly and hence was able to express this Pinterest Yid through her beautiful skating dance with all of her heart and soul, what beauty!!!

Patty Ann Smith: What a blessing. What a blessing to me, what a blessing to the world , choosing to perform her routine to the holocaust song representing the little girl in Schindlers List, it's not very often you can be used by God in front of the world in such a beatuuful way.

Anonymous: Is Lipnitskaya Jewish? When I was growing up, a survivor died her twin boys (todlers) hair blond. My mother was shocked and thought the woman nuts. Years latter I discovered the woman had a job in the camps. Everyday she would pass a compound and speak to a woman that had twins (blond hair) one day the infants were dead. Mengala had kild the twins. So the act of dyeing her twins hair was in remeberance of the twins who died in the camp. Maybe Lipnitskaya had relatives who died in the camps?

Judi Tepe: a tribute to the survivors. I was deeply moved by the young Russian skater Yulia's performance. Her choice of music,the red outfit and her beautiful sweet face all combined to send the message, Never Again from my generation. Bless you Yulia.

Anonymous: p.s. The great violinist, Mr. Perlman, spells his anglicized Hebrew first name "Itzhak," not "Yitzhak."

Anonymous: itzhak is not "anglicized"... It's the Yiddish pronunciation for Yitzchak.

Anonymous: The skater is a Jew! Are you serious? Did you not see the president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, in the audience beaming over her performance? What more of a tribute to Jewish martyrs could there be? She won the gold medal! After the history of persecution of Jews in Russia going back to the Czars (including my own family), it was the ultimate getting even!

Anonymous: remembrance. I think this is just another way to remind the world of what once was and unfortunately still is.

Linda: Her Thoughts. The music and her performance moved me to tears. I saw Shindler's List and it was as if this 15 year old girl was using her gift to depict the fear and pain of that little girl in the red coat in the movie. Before I could make a judgement about the rightness or wrongness of using this piece of music, I would want to ask this girl what meaning the song has for her and why she chose it. If nothing else, maybe some in the audience will want to see the movie and will have their eyes opened, perhaps for the first time, to the horrors of Anti-Semitism and the Holocaust. This skater brought that movie to the forefront of everyone's thoughts.

Howard: Good Question. The intent of the skater and/or her manager is indeed very important. Is Yulia a Jewish girl? The answer to that question can make a difference.

mary: Skating to shindlers list. I thought the choice was beautiful she tried to show the pain behind the little girl in the red coat. I cried because if you didn't watch the movie you can't relate to what the music was all about. I think she showed great respect for skating to that piece.

Anonymous: Am Yisroel Chai. The author and a number of those commenting here seem to me too ready to assume the worst. By her choice of music and attire, I think it more likely that Yulia was proclaiming to the world that not even the Holocaust could dim the Jewish spirit or stifle the Jewish voice, not when the Nazis were ascendant and not afterward. Even if she doesn't know the words, "am Yisroel chai" (the nation of Israel lives), that's certainly what she conveyed to me.

Sumbul: or is it? A s child of a Holocaust survivor, I take this article and the performance very personal. This performance might potentially risks trivialization turning the film – and the events it depicts – into kitsch, but the same should be said about the whole new genre of "Holocaust kitsch" movies and books like "The Book Thief" ,to mention just latest, yet we accept them and do not label them in a negative manner. Let's not forget that "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder". Should we pay attention to people that make witty remakes about Anne Frank in a cynical way? Absolutely not. If anything,we should at least try not be influenced by them. More then seventy years after the the WWII and with almost all survivors gone,our responsibility more then ever is is to keep the memories alive. Yulia's skating did this in a very effective and yet refined way. As for the little girl in the red coat, who wouldn't like to see her dance, just for a moment?

Aliza: Beautiful line. "As for the little girl in the red coat, who wouldn't like to see her dance, just for a moment?" So moving. Thank you.

Fran: Never forget... Perhaps it's a way of reminding the world, NEVER AGAIN!

Anonymous: Yulia Lipnitskaya- is a Jewish Russian 15-year-old girl. And I give her a huge credit of skating to the theme from the "Schindler’s List" in Russia and to be seen and heard by entire world. I guess, this music means a lot to her, may be making her even stronger to confront competition- and indeed, it worked for her, she won the Olympics! And this is wonderful! Many young teenagers who now admire her, may start asking the same questions: why did she chose this music and not the music that teenagers listen to? We all need messengers to open our minds, hearts, and souls- and I hope, the attention she received, will do it. Good luck, Julia!

Toni: Julia is not a Jewish Russian girl Julia may or may not have some familial Jewish connection, but given the fact that she wears a cross makes her a Russian girl, not a Jewish Russian. Still her performance was stunning and the 'red coat' costume made the reference to the plight of Jewish children during the Holocaust inescapable.

Anonymous: She's reminding the world of the Holocaust. I don't think that an Jew should be offended by her choice of music and costume. Yulia is reminding the world of the fact that the Holocaust took place during a time on Holocaust denial and renewed anti-Seminitsm. We should be honored that she is helping people remember what took place so that it really never happens again. We Jews always talk about the fact that we should always remember, so when Gentiles do what they can to help with this, they deserve our thanks and graditude. Remembering can take many forms, not just talking about it and reading books. With her choice of music and costume, Yulia has touched many viewers who otherwise might not have done anything else to learn about the Holocaust. I am very impressed by her strength and convictions on this subject as she risked exposing herself to the wreath of the many anti-Semites in this world.

RHODA COHEN: Her performance was so breathtaking and perfect and the music was perfect. it is nobodys busiiness what music is picked for her performance. Concentrate on somehting good and whatever the reason for the choice of music, she is the one who skated with her heart and soul to this beautiful melody

Sharon Buckland: What was the motive behind this? I did not see Yulia's performance, but before judging her, I should like to know what was her motive (or that of the choreographer) for using this music and the red outfit? If it was to continue to remind the world of the suffering caused by the Nazi regime (so close to Holocaust Memorial Day) then perhaps it is justified. Otherwise, I find it disgustingly crass and a disgraceful insult to Jewish people.

Tanya: Her choreographer is Jewish. His name is Ilya Averbuch, I am sure he had some influence on her choice of music and costume. Most of all I'm sure that it was done for the right reasons.

Isaac: The Art of Figure Skating. Figure skating, as in ballet dancing is Telling a Story Through Dance, i.e. acting out a story through movement. As in Classical Music, Telling a Story Through Music. When combined it gives the story so much more meaning and feeling. As a second generation holocaust survivor and when the music and red dress were made apparent, I felt it very appropriate and a great honor for the 17,000,000 Jewish victims and for the 6,000,000 Jews that were killed. We must never forget and anything especially as beautiful as Yulia Lipnitskaya’s breathtaking Olympic performance that reminds the world is praiseworthy. To describe it as kitsch to criticize it negatively is totally inappropriate. To compare it to the movie is like comparing apples to oranges. Different art forms, different forms of expression. A connoisseur of the arts understands this well. I therefore find the author's comments inappropriate and totally uncalled for.

Samuel Hollander: There can be no claims to 15-years old Russian girl's taste. To her this is nothing but a piece of a good music from a well-known movie. Note that her coach is the famous figure skater and choreographer Ilya Averbuch (his name undoubtedly points to his Jewish origin). The music and costume could have been rather his idea and his choice, not that of Youlia. The fact that "the Israeli ice dancing team that competed at the Vancouver games also skated movingly to Schindler's List." - is still worse. And: "a form of shorthand that allows us to tap into to emotions we haven’t really earned" - this sounds very good!!! I always have the similar feeling when looking at Israelis diverted from their routine works, driving, having meals, hairdressing, cooking, washing, shopping - just to stop and stand quiet the minute of silence - one only minute per year officially allotted to commemorate the victims of Holocaust.
Devaluation of memory of Holocaust is regrettable. But who is to blame?

Elliot: Who's Decision? I don't think this 15 year old kid had much decision as to what would be played during her performance. The decision was probably made by her coach who thought of this as a "moving" piece (which it is) which would go along choreographically with her skating. Looking at it from another perspective you can say that it may have highlighted the film after all these years.

yael: Disagree with author. I watched her performance and of course recognized the music and the origins of her outfit. Still, her choices did not bother me nor do I think one should be offended and call it kitsch. How is it that only certain people have license to utilize the movie, music or even reference the Holocaust? I also think the label of term "anti-semitism" gets way overused.

Georgia: It depends on who is deciding. I agree it's a most lovely selection she used to show her talent. along with a reminder if one so chooses to think that as well. To never allow such a tradegy to ever happen again. both were perfecto !!!

Debora Dorfman: Not Offensive!!!! I don't think it is offensive….. It is using art as a tribute to those who died. This goes in line with the idea of "NEVER FORGET"….. that we always say and transmit generation after generation. So, I don't see anything wrong with that… I think that it was beautiful and touching…..

Anonymous: Brava! It's an amazing tribute to historical significance of the music which dates back to the 1800's. The red coat reference, a nod to Spielberg. I choose to think that she and her coach had given great thought to the meaning, detail and work to achieve telling a powerful story exemplified in the song's lyric. Brava! I would be interested in seeing a tape of the original performance if anyone can advise

Anonymous: 1. Skaters use this music because it is good skating music, not to bring thoughts to the movie. If you heard the music without associating it to the movie, it would be fine. It's not like this music was being played during the Holocaust. 2. Even for those who do associate the music with the times of the ghetto/Shoah, I still say that there's something positive to be able to dance/skate so beautifully like that in your mind, even whilst horrors are going on around you. The beauty of the ice-skating can raise you from the depressive horrors around. And that is life; that is hope; that is the dance and dream that can give you the strength to keep going.

Jennifer: Poignant performance a needed reminder. The vast audience of Shindler's List and automatic association of the music with the tragedy of the Holocaust make her performance a powerful reminder to the millions watching - never again. Bu wearing red, she clearly identified herself with the Jews. There is nothing inappropriate about that. I find it moving that a Russian girl showed empathy with Holocaust victims on such a public stage. There is still a lot of anti-Semitism there and some of her countrymen might have identified more with the Nazis or at the most not wanted to display any support for Jews.

Shaindy: I think professionals realize that they gain clarity thru emotions & use that to be totally successful...also, maybe she felt this scene of reference would show defiance to the Munich olympics anti semitism...

Debbie: Moving music beautiful skating. I for one am always moved when I hear that piece of music. I believe anytime someone can do something in such a tasteful manner to bring forth rememberance of Shoah is important. Never forget. There was no disrespect shown here by the skater or her team. Infact I believe it showed quite the opposite.

Anonymous: Who knew? I have the video of 'Schindler's list' and have watched it several times. I didn't recognize the tune during the performance. It wasn't a particularly striking theme like many others so I was more focused on the girl's performance. Nor did I get the connection with the skater's outfit although I do remember the little girl in the red coat. I think most people would have been too entranced by her skill to look for anything deeper.

Marlene Langert: Jewish Complaining. Why do so many of my fellow Jews have the need to find something to complain about? The skate was a beautiful tribute to the movie and to Jews. And, Miriam, how come you don't give any credit to teenagers. THey have very deep problems and thoughts. Of course, at fifteen, she could have thought very deeply about the music and the circumstances. I know my grandchildren did and they are only half Jewish. If you are close to your children or grandchildren, you would know that.

Oscar Abraham: A win is a win. There is no sentimentality in sports. A win is a win. {With the proviso that it is otherwise legal and with proper sportsmanship. Sports is not war.) Furthermore, anything that gets you talking and thinking about the unspeakable and unthinkable things that happened under the evil WWII German regime is a good thing. The young girl herself, of course, had nothing to do with the music or costume. Please look to her coach and handlers. Please just congratulate her for her outstanding performance and win.

Anonymous: If Ms. Lipnitskaya's performed this song as an expression from her heart in memory of those who suffered and died in the camps, then can anyone rightly criticize? If it were me skating, I would have worn white (not red) to represent the innocence lost during the holocaust and I would have made the movements more from the soul. However, I consider her age. Yulia is very young and may instead need gentle spiritual instruction and experience so that she can learn how to express from her soul a more holy dance on ice in order to properly represent the sad and horrific story of the holocaust.

RichJ: Pointing out the truth of the Holocaust. With so much Holocaust denying going on in this day, especially in a Communist regime. I see it as a very big positive. Reminding people of the events of the Holocaust is just a start. Due to history revisionism some may not have even heard of it until this little ice skater dared to dramatize it.

Marcia: Yiddishkeit…. I did not see Yulia’s performance and knew nothing about it until I read my email. Another snowstorm hit so I’m humming and reading when my heart began to beat faster and the tears welled up in my eyes. I have been humming that tune for 50 years making up some Yiddish words as I go along! My mother used to sing (oh so sweetly) softly, when I was a child, with smiling eyes, this song that you played above…and somehow before I even heard it, while I hummed it, I knew! Thank You! From my Mom!

Anonymous: Raises Holocaust Awareness. If nothing else her performance reminds people and keeps the Holocaust in the media. We must Never Forget and as the child of a survivor, I find nothing offensive. The world needs constant reminders.

Russian speaker: When Yuilia was asked in an interview why she picked that melody and if it means something specific to her. She said that it has no special meaning to her.

Shimeon: Putting a finger in Putin's eye! I did not see the performance - but I have read numerous articles and opinions about it. What struck me is that just a few years ago - and perhaps even by Putin in his earlier KGB years -Jews lived in fear in the Soviet Union - they were imprisoned - they were killed for being Jews. Today - the world hates us - in the open. It's very in among the liberal high falootin classes to side with anything not Jewish or not Israeli - and then this little Russian skates to the song and dresses as a reminder of a pivotal character - and perhaps they worried about an anti- Semitic judge - or had the performance not gone well - then there would be all sorts of wise cracking headlines - I think it took guts - I read that her coach is Jewish - even more courage in my eyes - !

Roy: bleeding heart. Oh, come on now. When are us Jews ever going to learn that the non Jewish world is NEVER going to like us. We killed their G-d. Who gives a hoot that she wore red. You probably have a problem with Wagner. yada yada yada. What do you really expect from the goyim. Stop complaining and nagging, move to our homeland, behave like an observant Jew and bring Moshiac on. Lets get the show on the road and let the goyim do what they will, and we will be a nation apart, the way G-d intended.

Elaine Tosti: A shining Tribute. In the face of such beauty how can the sincerity of her performance be questioned. She, or her trainers must have a strong Jewish identification or ancestorial memory. Be Proud.

Debra Messick: moving. She shows maturity bryond her years in her skating & i believe she has shown maturity & sensitivity in this program.

Anonymous: Breathtaking!!! We found her performances spellbinding during the competitions last fall and a fitting tribute; delighted to see her excel in Sochi. Note, the Zaretskys, the Israeli ice dancing team that competed at the Vancouver games also skated movingly to Schindler's List. See their and their coach's comments in the article in The Jerusalem Post 2/24/10.

Anonymous: a breathtaking tribute. As a Jewish woman profoundly disturbed by the Holocaust, I appreciated this lyrical tribute to the Six Million Martyrs. I also wondered if there is a Jewish link from the skater or her coach. If the tone of the skate had been flippant I would feel very differently. However I felt her somber tone reflected a sincere effort to recall the tragedy portrayed so poignantly in Speilberg's masterpiece. I'm curious how Speilberg felt about it.

R Levine: Using the Holocaust and making light of it by turning it into an ice skating routine, cheapens the real pain and grief that the individuals (and nation) experienced. I think if we saw the ice skater using music that was reminiscent of the Newtown massacre and wearing an outfit that was reminiscent of one of the victim's, we would find it in very poor taste and certainly lacking in sensitivity. (To put it mildly.) I find her decision wrong. She differs from Spielberg. Spielberg's video made the Holocaust real to people. Whether it made money or not, its impact was to raise awareness regarding the brutality of the murderers and the humanity of the victims. (His Shoah foundation makes this clear.)

Constance: I was disappointed by the choice of music and costume. I felt it was a slap in the face of those who suffered the Holocaust especially in light of the current impending boycotts against Israel and the rise in anti-semitism. The Holocaust was a horrific event that should never be made light of by an ice skating routine in competition for a gold medal.

Jacob: To make money? I don't think the song was in bad taste but I have to respond to what MAF said: "Steven Spielberg was not paid for this film. He refused to accept a salary, citing that it would be "blood money". You should learn about how much thought and emotion went into making the film before assuming it was to make money.

MAF: Yes, to make money. Just because the director didn't take a salary doesn't mean it wasn't a commercial enterprise. You can bet that the actors, makeup artists, caterers camera guys, all got paid. Also the distributors, movie theater owners, DVD retailers, etc. Making movies is big business.

Gloria J: Thank you. i did not know that about Steven Spielberg "blood money", he was right. When i hear the theme song of Schindler's List with tears in my eyes and with a bowed head and to know that this same melody was used for intertainment lets me know that this world has NO FEAR of The LORD my GOD of Israel...His Nation and His people. Amen

Anonymous: Music might mean more to Yulia or her coach. Many Russians have Jewish ancestry that was hidden over the course of the 20th century. Could Yulia's (or her coach's) interest in the film's music be due to some unknown tie to Judaism?. I recall hearing Yitzhak Perlman play that piece in the mid-1990's in Boston. Numerous synagogue groups had brought tour buses of people to hear the concert. I felt that as a Christian, I was a member of a minority in the audience. DNA testing has recently shown me to have distant (1/64) paternal Polish Jewish ancestry. In her own way, Yulia might be honoring some family members. Don't call the performance cheap sentimentality until we've heard from Yulia herself what the music means to her.

Miriam: She's 15 years old and I doubt at this point she's thought very deeply about it. And her choreographer is going to use any technique that works. It's a matter of sensitivity for us Jewish adults. I think this article raises that question respectfully, even if it's only food for thought for the audience. (Is the music really that well known beyond the US where the film was shown? I didn't see the movie so I can't have an association with the red coat.)

tonya: 15 yr olds are highly capable of "thinking deeply". I am surprised that someone would say that because she is 15 years old she would not have thought deeply about the subject. I would save that judgement for a time when you can know by the words she speaks, not the years since her birth. And if you desire for future generations to know the story exists, someone must speak it to them in their language, not our own. And she spoke with taste and respect, and I saw no pretence.

Anonymous: I agree completely. Many Russians are hidden Jews and I also wondered about her ancestry. I thought the serious tone of her performance refected genuine compassion for the tragic losses of the Holocaust. I would like to know from Yulia what led her to choose this peice.

Anonymous: Iwas moved. I think that it does not cheapen what happened, but brings to remembrance what happened, and that it should never happen again. I am not Jewish, but African American Christian, and I was moved. As a musician, yes, music can evoke emotions. I just wanted to say that I will never forget the un speakable atrocities of the Holocaust, and her performance, or choice of expressing what it meant to her came across to me. What can one say? There are no mere words to express it. It should never have happened, and it should NEVER happen ever Again

Melissa: Yes i was very taken by the music, myself. thanks for comfirming that it was Itzak Perlman playing this piece. (Brought tears to my eyes). The intellect does not have to be ahead of the soul; Yulia is only 15 and there is a level of sadness for the passionate moment when one is on the verge of realizing that a child's innocense is lost. And if just for a moment, it allows even those with icy hearts to melt and experirence a oneness they otherwise would deafen themselves to.

Anonymous: her mother is jewish

Anonymous: Is she...Jewish?

Ruthiel: Hunting again for the reason to feel wounded, I think. Many artists perform to the backroung music taken from movies with a real and tragic storyline. Do we notice that? No, but when its Schindler list thats different

MAF: LIghten up, seriously. Schindler's list was a work of popular culture, intended to play on our emotions. Lipnitskaya's routine was also a work of pop culture, referencing another work of pop culture, and intended to play on our emotions. Is figure skating somehow less tasteful than a film which includes explicit sex scenes, nudity, murder? I think not. Speilberg made a film to make money, and Lipnitskaya is trying to win a gold medal. Both are exploiting the Holocaust, in their way, and both are within their rights to do so.

Hpela: eh? Both exploit? Maybe. Both have a right? Maybe not.

Baruch: The skater and the movie stirred far more positively reflective thoughts about the Holocaust, in far more people's hearts and minds, than you or I can ever hope to.

chaya: No exploitation: I agree. Steven Spielberg has devoted time and money to preserve memory of Holocaust survivors.


By Justin Peters, Slate, 8 February 2014

The star of Saturday’s team figure skating session was undoubtedly Julia Lipnitskaia, a young Russian who thrilled the crowd with her short program. “The diminutive 15-year-old Russian figure skater positioned herself to become the darling of the Sochi Games,” wrote Kevin Kaduk at Yahoo’s Olympics blog. “This Russian Teen Prodigy’s Figure Skating Performance Was Freakin’ Incredible,” blared the headline of a BuzzFeed article praising Lipnitskaia for a “beautiful and nearly perfect routine that left us speechless.” NBC commentator Johnny Weir called Lipnitskaia “a wild hybrid of Sasha Cohen and Tara Lipinski,” whatever that means. And Lipinski herself—also an NBC commentator—said that Lipnitskaia had a great shot at the gold medal.

Well, I can’t wait to see what Weir and Lipinski say about Lipnitskaia once the women’s individual competition starts. According to the New York Times, the Russian teenager’s "signature piece"—one she'll likely perform in the Olympic long program—is set to John Williams' theme from Steven Spielberg’s 1993 Holocaust drama Schindler’s List. But that's not all: The routine features Lipnitskaia skating as the film’s iconic “girl in the red coat,” a young Polish Jew who is killed by Nazi soldiers.

I think I speak for all of us when I say, “Finally, someone has adapted the saddest scene from a Holocaust movie into an acrobatic figure-skating routine.” No? Just me? No one else?

In case you haven’t seen Schindler’s List for a while, it tells the story of a German industrialist who, by employing Jews in his factories, saved them from near-certain death at the hands of the Nazis. In the movie, the “girl in the red coat”—a rare splash of color in the black-and-white movie—is first seen during the violent liquidation of the Jewish ghetto in Krakow. Later, Oskar Schindler finds the girl’s dead body, and, stricken by guilt and remorse, decides to take action.

Here’s a clip of the girl’s first appearance in the movie: [...]

And here’s Lipnitskaia’s “red coat” routine, from the 2014 European Figure Skating Championships: [...]

Surprisingly, there’s a long history of high-level figure skaters incorporating Schindler’s List motifs into their routines. From Katarina Witt to Irina Slutskaya to Johnny Weir himself, lots of great skaters have performed routines set to the Schindler’s List theme. These programs aren’t always well-received. As a recent post on the figure-skating blog Morozombie put it, it’s perhaps best to be “wary of attempts to portray the evils of the Holocaust and the suffering of the Jewish people on ice.”

And yet, skaters keep on skating to Schindler’s List. Why does something that seems so vulgar strike the figure-skating community as the best idea ever? Where’s the disconnect?

Figure skating does not prize subtlety. Young women slather on makeup, load up on sequins, and plaster on huge smiles to win high marks from the judges. Their musical selections, too, do not emphasize restraint. As that post on the Morozombie blog notes, a Schindler's List theme represents “a convenient opportunity to use dress up in sombre colors, use various overwrought dramatic contrivances and make overly melodramatic and agonized faces.” When skaters play sad, they play really sad.

Of course, Spielberg’s use of the girl in the red coat has itself been criticized as mawkish—one of the Spielberg film’s “overly sentimental tropes,” in the words of Entertainment Weekly. Schindler's List on Ice makes sense, then, in a perverse way: It’s the marriage of a sport that demands hyper-emotionalism and a film that delivers it more than any other in modern times.

In the end, it comes down to execution. Lipnitskaia’s Schindler’s List program— choreographed by Ilia Averbukh, a former Olympic ice dancing medalist who is himself a Russian Jew—is better than most. The Morozombie blog noted that “when she skates as the little girl in the red coat in Schindler's List, Miss Lipnitskaia's flaws become virtues that just work,” while USA Today called Lipnitskaia’s routine “spectacular but respectful.” The 15-year-old Russian skater is so beautiful and graceful on the ice, she ends up transcending material that she probably has no right using in the first place.

Justin Peters is a writer for Slate. He is working on a book about Aaron Swartz, copyright, and the rise of “free culture.”

Why figure skaters are drawn to Schindler's List music

Magazine Monitor: A collection of cultural artefacts

BBC, 10 February 2014

Figure skater Yulia Lipnitskaya used music from Schindler's List in her gold-medal-winning routine, writes Ben Milne. Was she guilty of bad taste?

The 15-year-old has won gold at Sochi, with her interpretation of the score to Stephen Spielberg's famous movie about the Holocaust. It's prompted debates across social media. "Schindler's List: On Ice!" is one tweeter's ironic reaction. Another asks whether routines based on The Diary of Anne Frank will be next. Others think differently: "Absolutely flawless," writes one.

Lipnitskaya's decision to perform the routine in a red jacket attracted the most comment. Schindler's List is shot almost entirely in black-and-white but in a couple of scenes a small girl is spotted in the middle distance wearing a red coat - first in the Jewish ghetto, then later on a pile of bodies. The sight signals a quiet turning point for the hero, Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson), and his mission to save his "list" of prisoners from the gas chambers.

The UK-based Russian journalist Dmitri Linnik says there is nothing wrong with the choice of music: "I don't see how it trivialises [the Holocaust] or is in bad taste," he says, adding that the same question wouldn't be asked of music from Cabaret, a musical set in Nazi Berlin.

John Williams's soundtrack of violin music (played by the Israeli violinist Itzhak Perlman) has actually been popular with skaters since the film's release in 1994. Paul Wylie performed a routine to the music that year, as did the German champion Katarina Witt (who also wore red and made headlines). It's not hard to see why dancers love the score - Williams spares no effort in attempting to match the sadness of the film with the tempo of his music, and its romantic melancholy lends itself perfectly to the dramatics of an ice dance.

It's an opinion that the judges at Sochi obviously share. However, the music has not always been an Olympic winner. In Atlanta 1996, the French synchronised swimming team proposed a Holocaust-themed routine to the same soundtrack, beginning with the nose-clipped swimmers goose-stepping into the pool. The plan was quietly abandoned before the Games - probably wisely.

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