Arts & Culture

If The Jews Are United: “Between Two Worlds” Jewish Culture Clash Documentary

Filmmakers Alan Kaufman and Deborah Snow put forth this trenchant, straightforward documentary, focusing on a number of topics, which ultimately mash on some of the hottest buttons in the ideological Jewish forum. Read More

By / June 30, 2011

Thursday nigh at IFC marks the New York Premier of the essay style documentary entitled Between Two Worlds, which focuses on clashing ideals within the Jewish Community.  Filmmakers Alan Kaufman and Deborah Snow put forth this trenchant, straightforward documentary, focusing on a number of topics, which ultimately mash on some of the hottest buttons in the ideological Jewish forum.

“Who is entitled to speak for the tribe?  Who gets banished for crossing the lines?  What happens when our faith is challenged?”

This quote comes from the end of the film in which a kind of resolution is reached regarding the films first cultural battleground.  The San Francisco Jewish Film Festival becomes the target of a slew of angry Jews, for it’s decision to include a film about Rachel Corrie, the Jewish protestor who was run over by an IDF bulldozer during a protest in Israel.  In this segment a Q&A during the films premier turns into a near riot.  Outside the festival, protestors are pointing fingers at those who are standing in line waiting to see for the film, while inside an Israeli nationalist speaker becomes the scapegoat of angry filmgoers who’ve just waited in line while being shouted at by protesters.   The film then departs from this story to delve into a number of segments that revolve around Jewish and Jewish American Identity.

“The truth is that the American Jewish community is now divided between those who are prepared to accept anyone who self-identifies as a Jew as being Jewish and those sectors of the community that adhere to the traditional rabbinic understanding that one needs to be descended from a Jewish mother.”

This quote comes from a Jewish theological Historian whose being interviewed during the film.  When asked, “where you do stand?”  He replies with the following.

“I identify with traditional Judaism.”

Between Two Worlds continues with segments dealing with everything from communism to intermarriage.  Each segment in the film ultimately reconciling itself as either a question of identity, or a question of Israel.  The final culture war ends up a question of both as students battle over a bill for their university to divest in funding to companies that supply arms to Israel.  In a final crescendo, Between Two Worlds returns in the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival where a new controversy is brewing, just as the smoke from the Rachel Corrie film is beginning to clear.

The directors of this film do their job, presenting issues that each and every one of us has an opinion on, while managing to leave their own out of the film entirely.  Between Two Worlds is an invitation, to think about some complex and important issues of identity.

POST A COMMENT

Wanna post your own comments?