Film is a great way to explore Jewish culture and tradition. It’s easy; it’s fun. The San Francisco Jewish Film Festival has a WinterFest that takes place over Feb. 10 and 11. The Festival invites bay area Jewish organizations to co-present a film. They invited Building Jewish Bridges to co-present, An Act of Defiance, a film about the Jewish lawyer who risked his life to defend Nelson Mandela and his co defendants in South Africa. It is a compelling film that exposes the danger of being the “other” and surviving under an oppressive government. Those are situations that Blacks and Jews have often suffered.
I asked if I could co-present an additional film – a comedy. I feel that there is enough seriousness in our work together on the issues of interfaith life; we need some fun. So just for fun, just to be social, just to laugh, take a look at Abe & Phil’s Last Poker Game. In this film too, the characters are both Jewish and non-Jewish; they share struggles and hopes. But you get to laugh.
If you are the Jewish partner taking your non-Jewish partner to one of these films – or to any of the films offered for WinterFest – take time to note the “Jewish” elements of the film. Talk about them with your partner. Are there things that feel familiar and warm? Or familiar and frightening? Are there things that you know must be “Jewish” but you yourself really don’t get it. Let the film be a window into Jewish life for both of you.
You tell me – is there a film, or two or three, that were particularly useful and informative for your interfaith dialogue? Let me know.