Why would a Catholic boy from the United States convert to Judaism, and why would he do it three times? Can a Chassidic Jew be a standup comedian? What is the connection between Judaism and comedy, and between comedy and tragedy? Why would a Jewish child in Poland become a Catholic priest? If the American Catholic-turned-Jew and Polish Jew-turned-Catholic wish to live in Israel, to what extent will they find Israel a welcoming place for them? To what extent should it be?
These are some of the questions that will be explored in an upcoming film festival, called “Raising the Curtain — Judaism in the Eye of the Beholder”. The festival will be held on two consecutive Saturday nights – September 1 and 8, at the Eshkol Payis center in Migdal Hamayim.
Each night, the doors will open at 20:15. After light refreshments, a film relating to issues of modern Jewish identity will be screened, followed by a lecture and discussion. Tickets cost 20 NIS per evening.
On September 1, the acclaimed film “Circumcise Me”, about the amazing life of Hassidic standup comedian Yisrael Campbell, will be screened. The discussion following the film will be led by Matthew Kalman, the film’s producer and director, and a former editor-in-chief of The Jerusalem Report.
On September 8, the award-winning documentary film “Torn”, which tells the story of Romuald Waszkinel and asks whether one can be a Catholic priest and a religious Jew at the same time, will be screened. The discussion following the film will be led by Shimku El Ami, a professional educator who and facilitator who works with the Maccabim program.
The festival is the initiative of the Jewish Agency Partnership 2Gether Maccabim program, which combines Jewish studies in a pluralistic atmosphere and community leadership training. As the culmination of this year’s program, participants developed ideas for various community projects on the theme of Jewish identity and renewal, and then chose one project to implement from beginning to end. The project that the group chose — a Jewish film festival —was the idea of Maccabim participant Brenda Ganot. The festival is co-sponsored by Partnership 2Gether Beit Shemesh - Mateh Yehuda - Washington - South Africa of the Jewish Agency, the Beit Shemesh municipality, and Amutat Kehilah. We hope that the festival will be a big success, and that this is just the beginning of what should become an annual event.