November 18, 2010
Written by Daniel Reiser,
Posted in Student Life
Last night, Hillel partnered with Emory Students for Israel (ESI) to present the Atlanta premier of the critically acclaimed documentary Faces of Israel. The film explores what it means to have a Jewish state. Do the two characterizations — democratic state and Jewish state — work well together? What happens when they don’t?
The event, which drew an audience of about 100 students, faculty, and community members, was organized by Charlie Punia (B‘12). During the screening, the film’s director, Amy Beth Oppenheimer, led an interactive discussion on what it means to have a Jewish state. Audience members had the chance to respond to key issues in the film, share their own opinions, and ask questions to make for a provocative discussion.
Photos and more after the break
“Amy's presentation was extremely informative and relatable. There is a continuous back-and-forth between Israel's progressive society and religious traditions that makes the place so dynamic and thought-provoking.” –Gail Axelrod (B‘11), Co-president, Emory Students for Israel
Faces of Israel is Amy’s first documentary film. While Amy’s passion for film is new, her love of Israel dates back to her first trip there as a young child. Growing up, Amy experienced two distinct types of Israel programming: one that focused on political advocacy, dialogue groups and the conflict, and another that offered falafel and Israeli music on Israel Independence Day. Amy felt that both types of programming had their place, but there wasn’t a lot of meaningful content offered in between. One of her motivations in creating Faces of Israel was to create an internal discussion piece for the community to explore the nature of the Jewish state and questions of Jewish identity in a real and thoughtful way.
“I thought this was a unique event. To hear a lecture about Israel is one thing. To show a film is another. But to have the director come, to share her insights, to lead an interactive conversation really deepened my understanding of the film.” –Charlie Punia (B‘12)
Amy screened three chapters of the film. In each chapter, the film shows her interviews with Israelis from across the political, religious, and social spectra — from ultra-orthodox couples to an openly gay student at the University of Haifa, from new olim to Sabra nationalists, and from the rabbi of Progressive congregation Kol HaNeshama to Israel’s Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi. The interviews raise questions like: How, if at all, should Jewish tradition influence Israeli law? Should the Chief Rabbinate represent the views of all denominations for Judaism? Should civil unions and same-sex unions be legalized in Israel?
“These are important questions that often get over-shadowed by the conflict. I think the audience got a more in depth look at Israeli society and learned a lot from the film.” –Sarah Green (C ’11), Co-president, Emory Students for Israel
This event was made possible in part by Masa-Israel Journey, The David Project, and Emory College Council.
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