Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Faces of Israel: A Documentary

There is a fascinating new documentary called Faces of Israel about the role of the official state Rabbinate in Israeli lives, particularly but not solely regarding marriages. The movie is a series of interviews with people across the religious spectrum in Israel -- secular, Reform, Conservative, Religious Zionist, Charedi, even Chief Rabbi Yonah Metzger -- about a variety of topics.

Click here to read moreThe people who made this movie say that they tried hard not to push any particular view and just wanted to air a discussion of the issues. However, I was discussing it with a colleague today and I'm not sure whether the movie is biased or I read into it my personal biases. It seemed to me like the rabbis from the Religious Zionist community -- R. Seth Farber from Itim, R. Haggai Gross from Tzohar and R. Yuval Cherlow also of Tzohar -- came out looking the best in the movie.

It seemed to me that the people who looked the worst were Charedim involved in the Israeli Rabbinate. One rabbi from the Rabbinate was interviewed while the whole time his computer screen kept blinking like it was straight out of the 1980s. It was comical that he has to use it. It looks like it's still running on MS-DOS. (UPDATE: A commenter pointed out that this was just a result of a mismatch between the video camera and the computer screen.) And Rabbi Metzger mentioned at one point how they think the internet is very important in reaching out to the public, and sometime soon they're going to figure out how to use it.

We've all either had horror stories with the Israeli Rabbinate ourselves or know someone who has. But they keep saying how it's all a bunch of stereotypes, as if that's going to convince us. And then the "kallah teachers" who advise brides seem enough to make me not want to be frum and they don't even realize it.

I also noticed that of the married couples, among the religious the women did most of the talking and among the non-religious the men did.

Very interesting and thought-provoking documentary. It will hopefully change the world, but at the very least it will inform people of serious issues.

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Favorites More