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Dear Rabbi Simon,
You may have seen advertising for the French film “The Round Up”, a story based on the arrest and detention of Parisian Jews in Nazi-occupied Paris in 1942. Would one be able to go to see such a movie during the 3 Weeks / 9 Days?
As an aside, the film has received rather average ratings, but may be good for educational purposes.
More at: http://www.thejc.com/arts/film/50306/review-the-round-up and http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2011/jun/19/the-round-up-review
Thanks,
Dennis

Dear Dennis,
Thank you for your timely question (and links to reviews, which I see are generally favourable, if not ecstatic).
As I have not seen the film, I hesitate to render a definitive judgment, but my thinking is as follows:
There are two “seasonal” issues:
One is the general consideration of “diminishing joy” from the beginning of Av (as per the Mishna in Ta’anit), which may rule out recreational activities such as cinema or theatre during these days. On that score, I would think that this film, while offering some entertainment/escapism, has a serious (even tragic) historical message/theme as well, which is of course fully in keeping with the theme of these reflective days, and therefore would not be forbidden on the basis of “diminishing joy.”
The other possibility is the issue of music. No doubt the film has a musical score. On that basis also I would say that it is allowed, as the music is only incidental to the film, for mood, drama, etc. The music is a subordinate accompaniment to the movie, not the main part of the experience itself. Moreover, to the extent that there is music, it is unlikely to be “dancing music”, and certainly the viewing audience is not expected to be dancing to it. (I emphasize the dancing aspect because the well-known prohibition of listening to music is an extension of the music + dancing combination.)
Nevertheless, I would say that one should avoid seeing it in the week in which Tisha B’Av falls. (However this year, when the fast is observed on Sunday, there is no “week in which 9 Av falls”.) Finally, I would add that in my opinion a film offering Hollywood-style entertainment and escapism value, even on a Holocaust theme, is not appropriate for the day of Tisha B’Av itself.
The above does not include, however, the larger question of the suitability of viewing the film itself in terms of the scenes/people/exposure/behaviour. On that, see my preliminary point, above.
On the whole, my feeling is: If you go to see it, let me know what you think, and if you would recommend it to others.
I hope this is helpful.
Rabbi Rashi Simon

Questions & Answers
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Questions and Answers

Ask the Rabbi: Quinoa on Pesach
Dear Rabbi Simon,
Where do you stand on quinoa (and the kitniyot ban) for Pesach?
Many thanks,
Tzippy
***
Dear Tzippy,
In line with other American authorities, I am in favour of quinoa. Although I reject completely the voices (mostly from Israel) seeking to abolish the ban on kitniyot entirely, IMO we do not need to include in the prohibition pseudo-grains that were unknown in the Old World until modern times. Best to buy with a Pesach hechsher though, to be free of any possible wheat contamination.
Rabbi Rashi Simon
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