Browsing the archives for the converting to Judaism tag.


Protektor and Leap of Faith

Film, Lily's notes

Protektor, a film by Marek Najbrt, is a sophisticated, artful and  intelligent film which takes place in Prague during the Nazi occupation. It is an unusually nuanced film which feels truer to what it must have felt like to live through that time period…it is heads and shoulders above the many films produced in a “heroic”, or even worse , the new “vengeful mode” .

The cross currents of the love story intertwined with the severe time period, the ambivalence of some of the characters, and the aspect of chance in life is completely absorbing. Also, this film has a film-within-a-film,  which evokes the films of the 40’s perfectly. The film visually makes reference to art of the 40’s, and is in Czech.

I would put Protektor on my must-see list.

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Leap of Faith, a documentary About Converting to Orthodox Judaism in America, follows four diverse families, who live in the United States, as they consider conversion to Orthodox Judaism.

Since Judaism does not seeks converts,  those of us who were born Jewish are frequently fascinated by converts to Judaism and want to know a great deal about their attraction, decision, experiences and the reaction of their families. This film will satisfy a some of that interest, without having to be tempted to be rude and actually ask a convert you may know any overly personal questions.   The film examines only a very specific part of the story: converts to Orthodox Judaism in the  US. This particular scope is quite understandable considering that the film-makers themselves are Orthodox Jews married to women who have converted to Judaism.

We meet  a lovely Trinidadian woman raised in a warm religious Christian home.  Her loving family, her story of attraction to Judaism, her personal struggle,  and the reactions and kindness of her supportive family are a lovely example of the best of family values. There is a single mother and her son, an elderly couple, and a once devout Christian family with teenage children who all convert.

All of the families are fascinating to watch. In one family, we meet a woman so upset by the conversation of a relative, that she asks the interviewer “What do you call your religion” and she says that even the name “sounds ugly” to her. Makes you squirm, we really do not expect such a blatant anti-Semitic remark.

The most revealing question of all is never verbally answered: the interviewer asks one of the Hasidic Rabbis involved in the conversions if he would like a child of his to marry a convert.

I left with the feeling that although this is a fascinating and worthwhile film, I had seen only an extremely limited picture of people who convert to Judaism in the US.

These films are included in the current 19th Annual New York Jewish Film Festival at the Reade Theater in Lincoln Center. More details are on the festival site.

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