Trembling Before G-D


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Orthodox faiths have rules, designed to bend human nature into unnatural shapes. Hasidic Jews, for example, do not believe that homosexuals should be put to death, as stated in Leviticus, but the next best thing. Until recently, to come out was tantamount to losing your religion.

Sandi Simcha DuBowski's film follows the experience of a select few who have retained a close connection with Judaism and the Divine, while remaining sexually active. The prejudice is so fierce that lesbians are filmed in silhouette, with their voices altered.

Naturally, there are stories of personal anguish, in which men and boys tell of family rejection and being thrown out of religious schools for being gay. One young man from North London was packed off to Israel because "there are no gay people there." Big mistake. "That's where I came out completely." Another, from New York, had to eat figs for two years, in the hope that this would cure him. There is talk of ending it all. "She said she would commit suicide - at night." She didn't. Not then.

DuBowski feels passionate about the subject and finds eloquent, often amusing, advocates to plead the case for liberalising the laws to allow some degree of tolerance. It seems, at times, like going back 50 years, when consenting homosexuals could be sent to prison in Britain.

This is Israel today, where they call same sex relations "an evil incarnation". Although you might consider this a minority interest, emotions are strong and contradictions rife. Brave men in suggestive clothes are marching with pride through Tel Aviv. The first openly gay rabbi talks of his relationship with another man as "beautiful". The walls, not of Jericho, are falling and DuBowski's camera is there as witness.

Reviewed on: 19 Jun 2003
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Trembling Before G-D packshot
Documentary on the treatment of homosexuals orthodox Jews in Israel and New York.
Amazon link

Director: Sandi Simcha DuBowski

Year: 2001

Runtime: 84 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US, France, Israel


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