Thursday, December 9, 2010

And Thou Shalt Love

Our Israel Seminar class is taking us on a strange journey through many layers of Israeli society and Israel itself. On Wednesday, this week, we visited a very interesting film school, Ma'ale. From what was explained to us, this is a film school for Orthodox Jews in Israel.

We were given a short introduction by one of their directors/writers, Chaim Elbaum. He explained some of the ways they deal with issues of modesty, yet still teach film creation. Apparently the school only shows certain films in class, and then leaves it up to the students that decide for themselves, what else they want to be exposed to.

The goal of the school is to put another view of the "Orthodox World" on screen. They want to show that there is more to "Orthodoxy" in Israel that HaUshpizin. However, they are not without controversy, I mean, what kind of a film school would it be if they didn't have some. As it turns out, the man we got to meet was responsible for creating and directing this film.

The film, ואהבת (And Thou Shalt Love), was incredible. Chaim Elbaum told a great story about a young man, who is gay and orthodox. The main character struggles with these two identities because they are supposedly mutually exclusive. Many ways of dealing with this situation are explored in the movie, and I don't want to spoil if for you. I will only recommend that you take the time to watch it. It should be available at Ma'ale's website.

I wish we would have had more time to talk with Elbaum, he had a very interesting story to tell us. Instead we also got to screen two other movies. But there was something so personal about watching someone's work with them in the room. Especially when the story is so moving and deals with such a difficult topic.

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