Saturday, March 13, 2010

Trembling before G-d

"How can you be queer and orthodox at the same time. I see a logical contradiction order to maintain my sanity and my selfhood I had to leave, I had to rebel."
~Israel Fishman, a homosexual Jew living in Brooklyn.
I recently got a chance to watch Trembling Before G-d, a 2001 documentary on homosexual orthodox Jews. What? A homosexual orthodox Jew? I felt completely foolish for thinking that such a thing never existed because I've never really thought about it. But just because we don't think about it doesn't mean that people don't suffer through it daily. The film interviews several homosexuals living within orthodox Jewish communities around the world many remaining behind silhouettes for fear of being ostracized by their friends and family.

When it comes to Christianity, I'm assuming most homosexuals either leave the church or join a more liberal open-minded church to keep their sense of community. But this doesn't work the same within Judaism, which still has liberal communities, because Judaism is more about what you do than what you believe. The gays interviewed in the film want to retain both aspects of their identity: their Jewish orthodox roots and their homosexuality. They struggle to keep both without losing their sanity, and it's painful watch. I can't imagine people still think homosexuals are choosing to be who they are, choosing to "sin" and be apart from G-d while inflicting an enormous amount of pain on themselves. Homophobic Christians believe gays are living apart from G-d because "true Christians" would have faith to pull through their homosexuality, or as some would say, "pray the gay away". Celibacy is also encouraged as an alternative by a few of the orthodox Rabbis who genuinely want to help gays within their community, but struggle themselves to understand what G-d is telling them. The difference between conservative Christians and Orthodox Jews is that a homosexual Jew is still a Jew regardless of their beliefs because they are connected as a community through their actions. I can not identity with either Judaism or homosexuality but I can identify with pain and suffering. All these people want is to be accepted and remain loved. There was one scene where a 50 year old homosexual man, Israel Fishman, says that all he wanted was his daddy. That completely shattered my heart to pieces. I mean I began bawling big man tears. All they ask for is love, so why is it so hard to give? Because the community is affected by it and blaming the homosexual is an easier way out than wrestling with it. I highly recommend this film. If you have a Netflix account it is available as an online stream and can be viewed on your computer. It is also available in its entirety on Hulu with limited commercial interruptions. It's available on Amazon, for a small price, if you feel uncomfortable watching it on Hulu (which you shouldn't, Hulu's completely legit).


Doug Robertson said...

"I began bawling big man tears". I saw the movie Trembling Before G-d, too, and I did the same thing. Of course, I'm a queer one, we tend to do that, even though I myself had my daddy. Great movie, I concur worth watching.

Don said...

I am looking forward to seeing this. I have such poor internet service that it is almost impossible to view it at home. I will do what I have to. As you know, I have a gay son whom I love so much. I want to do all I can to help others understand the plight of gays in the world of religion, especially in the south. Thanks for pointing me to this film.

Doug- I am straight but cried like a baby while watching "For the Bible Tells Me So". Gays don't have sole possession of "Big Man Tears". This issue affects large numbers of us all.

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