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Catching Up and Movie Reviews

September 22, 2013 – 3:52 pmNo Comment

From the editor and Fred Levit:

levit1Welcome back!

We hope you’re enjoying/surviving the chagim and haven’t been rained on too much while trying to eat.

There are a few community notices to catch up on and some of Fred’s reviews to enjoy this Sunday before we get back to Galus tachles tomorrow.


The Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Association (JCMA) presents its inaugural annual event: a forum that will look at  the topic of “Religion in the Media” with skilled and experienced panelists currently working in the media.

The panelists include:
. Michael Gawenda (Director, The Centre for Advanced Journalism, University of Melbourne)
. Barney Zwartz (Religion Editor, The Age)
. Dr Nasya Bahfen (Journalist & Communications, Lecturer, RMIT)
. MC: Margaret Coffey (ABC Radio National)

Richmond Town Hall
333 Bridge Rd
Richmond VIC 3121
(Stairs only access)

$15 per person
$10 students or concession
$30 family
Please book and pay:
(Preferred) or Pay at Door

Helen Heath
T: 9287 5590
E: executiveofficer@jcma.org.au
W: jcma.org.au


From Michael Misrachi of the Shalom College (Sydney):

Shana Tova and Gmar Tov. Coming off the back of a very successful SJWF, we are moving straight onto planning for the inaugural Sydney Jewish Food Culture Fest!

It is taking place on Sunday 20 October, 10.00am – 4.00pm at Shalom College, UNSW. Our website is www.jewishfoodculturefest.com.au (please bear with us, it’s still being updated).

The Jewish Food Culture Fest is about showcasing Jewish food and culture from around the world. It will feature talks, demonstrations, workshops and food stalls through which people will delve into issues and ideas behind generations of Jewish gastronomy – and taste some of it too.

We are very excited that the event is part of the Sydney Good Food Month. It is co-presented by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies and The Shalom Institute.


From David Marlow at the JCCV:

“If you save one life, it is a though you save the world” – Mishnah

The Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) is organising a Jewish Community Organ and Tissue Donation Forum at 7:30pm on Wednesday 16 October in the auditorium of the Beth Weizmann Community Centre, 306 Hawthorn Rd, Caulfield South.

Organ donation is possible in Judaism, as long as it is performed Halachically, and saving lives is of the utmost importance. The key speakers at the event will be:

  • Dr Helen Opdam, Victorian Medical Director of Organ & Tissue Donation, DonateLife Victoria and Senior Intensive Care Specialist, The Austin Hospital;

  • Associate Professor Dr Shlomo Cohney, Chair, Victorian & Tasmania Renal Transplant Advisory Committee;

  • Rabbi Meir Shlomo Kluwgant, President of the Rabbinical Council of Victoria, General Manager Cultural & Spiritual Services at Jewish Care and a member of the board of the Melbourne Beth Din for the Halachic perspective; and

  • two Jewish organ recipients to hear their personal stories.

Nina Bassat AM, President of the JCCV said, “It is important to discuss your decision regarding organ and tissue donation with your family, because even if you register your wishes on the Australian Organ Donor Register, your family will have to confirm your decision before any donation can proceed.

If you have queries about what is Halachically correct, please discuss this with your Rabbi.”

At the forum, there will be information booths with representatives from various congregations and experts from DonateLife present to help people who may have detailed questions.

For more information, please contact David Marlow, Executive Director JCCV at david@jccv.org.au.


And finally, kick back and enjoy Fred Levit’s movie reviews.

Israel is a multi-faceted nation of more than just multi-cultural color and flavor, for it is divided politically, religiously, sub-religiously, demographically  and geographically – the list goes on. Thus, in wrapping up my coverage of the Israeli Film Festival (with so much to offer though finishing a fortnight ago) it didn’t feel right not to include a few documentaries I was fortunate to see, and I picked these 2 because they were the most emotional and thought provoking of the lot – of the themes they explored. And although they shared stories of people in wandering misery, sheer poverty and a search for identity, they also captured (in essence) the extreme life contrasts between Arabs living inside and outside of Israel’s secure and seemingly impenetrable borders – where families are torn apart because of the sacrifices they must make to survive in and around a nation and its people forever dealing with problems history has thrown upon it. Of the many dimensions of Israeli life and the issues it contends with on a daily basis, here are two windows into the trials and tribulations of Arab life we rarely hear about.


Watching this document in all its honesty and overwhelming realism, I felt both challenged and infuriated that a world has turned its back on these select group of people at the center of this account of humans degraded to the point of digging in piles of rubbish (riddled with human waste) to find a scrap of metal to sell or an unfinished drink or snack to nourish their starved and weather beaten lives.

“GOOD GARBAGE” follows a handful of determined Palestinian refugees as they scurry through the Garbage Truck’s newly dumped trash at the Dump serving the local Israeli Settlement, and nestled near-by a Palestinian village – providing these destitute people the additional means of survival. An old man, the soul provider to a family whose young son serves time, plunges his worn and torn limbs through the rubbish to find the rare commodities like Tyre rubber and Tin metal to sell prospecting dealers in exchange for petty cash.

A little boy, whose mother awaits his long hard hours out in the blistering sun, is beaten about and pushed aside – an easy target for theft, often coming home empty handed and angering his hungry mother who taunts his weaknesses, breaking his spirit (no longer innocent). Then there is the ‘company’ that attempts to deal with the violent fights that break out among the prospectors,  offering them an equal share and distribution of proceeds – a proposition that doesn’t take long to buckle under the sheer weight of desperation.

What ever the story, what ever the circumstances, you can not help but feel in one way or another negligent of a dominant reality that overshadows much of Africa and the Middle-East, and one where Israel is not the monster, but a piece in a very large and complex puzzle.

A real eye-opener and one not to be ignored.

“THE LESSON” (2012)

On the other side of the border, in Israel, a story so completely the opposite of “GOOD GARBAGE” yet equally as tragic and thought provoking, “THE LESSON” follows an elderly woman’s epic journey from the dunes of Egypt to the safety and freedom of Israel. One might think that a Driving Instructor’s 200th lesson with an intelligent elderly woman is a strange McGuffin to carry a 50 year old tale, but what begins as an innocent conversation and exploration of a woman’s obsessive urge to return to driving school seems to parallel her never ending and never dying hope to right the wrongs of her past – as if the steering wheel is a hypothetical extension of the mileage growing between her and the problems she refuses to accept as reality.

Your curiosity grows with that of the Driving Instructor’s eager persistence to find out more about this mysterious woman as she opens up the wounds of her past and pieces together her story, driving through the streets of Jerusalem completely engrossed in one another’s company – the one place she can be heard and listened to.

Out of her cold, spent and fortified façade, the internal flame beaten out of her, she reveals her past life as a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter, a deserter, a proud Arab and a land-owner whose influence over her own children died out with the memories of a time her family was a whole, in a country where she feels equally a captive and a refugee – perpetually in identity limbo.

It is a documentary that poignantly explores a woman’s search for meaning and redemption – and one that is a very insightful point of view from the Arab experience. Cutting between her conversations with a caring Driving Instructor and the exhausted exchanges with her open-minded daughter (on the verge of marrying a Jewish man), “THE LESSON” remains distant and observant throughout, letting us see a woman’s internal labyrinth from her eyes and leaving it for us to judge.


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