Jewish Word | Shamash

n the 1946 film The Big Sleep, based on the Raymond Chandler mystery of the same name, Carmen—the promiscuous, drug-addicted younger sister of Lauren Bacall’s character—sizes up Philip Marlowe, played by Humphrey Bogart, and asks him, “What are you, a prizefighter?” Bogart responds, “No, I’m a shamus.” “What’s a shamus?” she inquires. “It’s a private detective,” he answers. Yes, Bogart is using the Yiddish version—more popularly spelled “shammes”—of the Hebrew word, “shamash.”

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A still from 209 Rue Saint Maur

In ‘209 rue Saint-Maur,’ Family Separation in Occupied France

209 rue Saint-Maur, Paris, 10ème—The Neighbours opens with shots of a Parisian tenement building as a mother tells her child the story of the three little pigs. The comforting voice-over drifts off as the mother pig tells her children that she cannot care for them any longer, foreshadowing themes of separation, struggle, threat and terror that are still relevant today.

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