<<< His Death
Noah has left the Orthodox Jewish community in which he was raised. His Hasidic family cuts all ties with him. He is essentially dead to them.
Noah lives alone. He lives in
a provisional state, as if exiled from his past, alienated from his own self. There is something estranged in his home and his life's reality - like a man waiting, suspended for a long time, before able to finally mend his past or let go of it entirely.
The family's patriarch passes away. In his death he asks to reconnect Noah with his family and the community.
According to the father's wish, all his descendants must be present at the reading of the will, Noah among them. The siblings fear that Noah might be named as a beneficiary of the father's will.
Noah is consoled and excited by his father's wish to include him in the event, despite the pain he had caused upon deserting. Before passing away, the father viewed Noah as equal with his siblings, an integral member of the family. His siblings, on the other hand, balk at the challenge posed by their father, namely letting Noah back into the family. To them, Noah's world is so drastically different from their own, that they find the father's request both adverse and deeply upsetting. The rooted and trivial family bond is being tested, but how rooted and how trivial is it?
Works that have inspired me in this project are Plato's 'Allegory of the Cave' and Mike Leigh's 'Bleak Moments' (1971).
For my most recent feature narrative film 'Tikkun',I have done extensive research into the strict Hasidic community. I have met mainly disaffiliated, former members of the community - those who were born into and raised ultra-Orthodox, but have undergone a crisis of faith, which led them to leave their religion, community and respective families.
The people I met have transitioned from a way of life that is structured and orderly, to a secular world that is chaotic, free, and at times strange. This conversion has demanded of them tremendous mental toughness and financial resilience. Not all complete this passage successfully and often they are left with scars and afflictions that last a lifetime. In Israel, this community does not receive any organized support from state institutions, and the individuals are left to themselves even after having lost their families, friends, and all that they had known and trusted. Essentially, they become transparent, yearning for warmth, love, and a new family - their own place in the world.
The most impactful, saddest experience I have had with an ex-Orthodox person was when contacting someone to assist me with the script for 'Tikkun'. His thoughts after reading the script were intelligent and insightful. I was looking forward to hearing and learning more from him, and asked to meet him at a cafe in Jerusalem. On the morning of the day we were scheduled to meet, I called him and we confirmed the time and place. I arrived at the cafe on time, but did not find him there, and so waited for over half an hour. At this point I started making phone calls, first to him and then to his friends, to find out where he was and what was keeping him. I waited a full hour and left without any satisfying explanation for his whereabouts. That same night, when going through my Facebook feed, I had found out that he had died by suicide at the exact time that we had scheduled to meet. Like other individuals who struggle after leaving their Orthodox communities, he must have suffered greatly from loneliness, being shunned by the Hasidic community and his family. This incident had affected me greatly.
The short film 'His Death' is one way for me to represent this young man and similar transparent men and women, members of the ex-Orthodox community.