Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



Turning Tides: Wide-Angle View

As told to Leah Gebber

One thing I learned right away was that if this was to work — and I believed it could — then honesty was crucial. I didn’t want to pretend everything was fine. I didn’t want to indulge in apologetics

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

wide

Photo: Shutterstock.

I was embarrassed to tell people I lived in Beit Shemesh. “Oh, that’s where they spit on little girls?” was the unfortunate reaction I’d sometimes receive after the media furor three years ago. The demonstrations that followed confirmed that Beit Shemesh seemed to be a deeply divided city. 

That’s why I agreed to join a group of women — eight of whom were Torah observant and eight secular — ostensibly to learn film production, but in fact to see if we could break down some of the barriers between us. 

It was with a mixture of hope and nervousness that I made my way over to a nearby secular moshav for the first meeting of us “Nashim Nehedarot (wonderful women).” The meeting was held in the bomb shelter. The walls were grimy, the light was dim, and I thought, My goodness, why have I come? My cousin had also agreed to join, and I sat next to her in the circle, looking around at the unfamiliar faces and trying to swallow my sense of misgiving. 

The program facilitator, Hila, is an experienced teacher and she must have used all the tricks in her book to make us feel comfortable and break down the barriers. The first thing she did was hand out little pictures and pair us up — an observant woman with a secular woman. Our job was to look at the pictures — simple things, like a picnic table or an ocean — and talk about what thoughts and feeling the pictures brought up. Then we got behind the camera to film each other talking. 

I’m the most nontechy person in the world — I can hardly send an e-mail — so to be taught hands-on how to film was exciting. It was new and stimulating and the barriers between us, though present, started to thaw.

Photo: Shutterstock

The second meeting had two parts. First, we had to each bring in a text that we found meaningful. We then filmed each other as we read it out and spoke about it. One of the secular women read out a piece from Rebbe Nachman, and I was very moved. It really brought home to me how we have to look beyond the clothing and find the person inside. 

But in the second half of the meeting, Hila decided to teach us about camera angles. To demonstrate the power of a close shot, she showed a short film of a chareidi teenage girl. I don’t remember what she was doing, but I do recall a feeling of discomfort. I felt like she’d been portrayed in an uncomplimentary light, kind of like, nebach, she’s oppressed by all these rules. I looked around and saw that all of us religious women were irked by it. 

One thing I learned right away was that if this was to work — and I believed it could — then honesty was crucial. I didn’t want to pretend everything was fine. I didn’t want to indulge in apologetics. So we didn’t simply swallow the film. A number of us confronted the issues.

Related Stories

Creating Camp Mommy

Riki Goldstein

Some creative moms turn their homes into camp — and say that the experience is worth every ounce of ...

Freefall: Chapter 13

Miriam Zakon

A soldier, furious that the two Jewish recruits are being accepted by the others, throws a stein of ...

Lifetakes: My Little Mason

Ilana Shafer

Was my child the only black-and-white thinker in the class who would be devastated when a gold-laden...

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.
CAPTCHA
Message


MM217
 
What’s in a Name?
Shoshana Friedman “What does Writer X have to say this week?”
Atonement — Fake and Real
Yonoson Rosenblum White confessionals and faux rituals
Four Walls Coming Full Circle
Eytan Kobre All the while, there’s been a relationship in the offing...
And Yet We Smile
Yisroel Besser We are the nation that toils to be happy at all costs
Out of This World
Rabbi Henoch Plotnick Dirshu Hashem b’himatzo — we are in Hashem’s company now...
Steven and Jonathan Litton
Rachel Bachrach The co-owners of Litton Sukkah, based in Lawrence, NY
Tali Messing
Moe Mernick Tali Messing, engineering manager at Facebook Tel Aviv
Sick Note
Jacob L. Freedman “Of course, Dr. Freedman. Machul, machul, machul”
Avoiding Health Columns Can Be Good for You
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman Only one reliable guide for good health: our Torah
Endnote: Side Notes
Riki Goldstein Most Jewish music industry entertainers have side profes...
Me, Myself, and Why
Faigy Peritzman Where there’s no heart and no love, there’s no point
Can’t Do It Without You
Sarah Chana Radcliffe When you step up to the plate, you build your home team
Eternal Joy
Mrs. Elana Moskowitz The joy of Succos is the fruit of spiritual victory
The Appraiser: Part III
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP and Zivia Reischer Make sure your child knows his strengths
Hidden Special Needs
Rena Shechter You won’t see his special needs, but don’t deny them
Dear Wealthy Friend
Anonymous There’s no need for guilt. I am truly happy for you