The Arty Semite

Friday Film: Eichmann's Improbable Executioner

By Renee Ghert-Zand

  • Print
  • Share Share

After seeing the documentary film “The Hangman,” screening November 15 at the U.K. Jewish Film Festival, it is hard not to think of Shalom Nagar as the Forrest Gump of Israel. Like the character played by Tom Hanks, Nagar improbably finds himself in the midst of historical events and meeting famous (infamous, really) people. And according to the yarns the simple-yet-wise Yemini-Israeli butcher spins for his friends, neighbors and the camera, he even helped shape the history of the modern Jewish State.

“The Hangman” is a small, riveting film by Avigail Sperber and Netalie Braun, grantees of the Foundation for Jewish Culture’s Lynn and Jules Kroll Fund for Jewish Documentary Film. Through it, they tell the story of some of the most pivotal moments in Israeli history through the eyes of the kosher slaughterer who happens to have been Adolf Eichmann’s executioner. Nagar, who was formerly a prison guard, was also posted to the prison in Hebron, where he was among the first Israelis to guard imprisoned Palestinians under Israel’s then-newly established Military Administration. He also happens, according to his version of events, to have been the one to suggest to the Administration that the original settlers in Hebron in 1968 (Rabbi Moshe Levinger and 14 families) be given rooms converted from King Hussein’s stables to live in.

Nagar also happened to be on site when Dr. Baruch Goldstein killed 29 and injured 125 Muslims at the Cave of the Patriarchs in 1994. It was following that event that Nagar decided to move his family out of Hebron, where he had lived for many years following Levinger’s invitation to join the settlers. He doesn’t give long political or ideological explanations for why he decided to leave. In his characteristically uncomplicated way, he simply says that things were not good anymore and it was time to go.

Despite his seemingly accepting and God-fearing persona, Shalom Nagar is in many ways a complicated and hard-to-understand individual. Sperber and Braun capture the look in Nagar’s eyes that suggests more to this real-life character than religious platitudes and an affable nature. How could this not be so for a man who was traumatized by having to pull the lever on Eichmann, but who finds peace of mind slaughtering animals on a daily basis?

Watch the trailer for ‘The Hangman’:


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: The Hangman, Shalom Nagar, Renee Ghert-Zand, Netalie Braun, Avigail Sperber, Moshe Levinger, Film

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.