Trembling Before G-d | Notes & Review

Posted on December 2, 2010


As with other independent films/documentaries (see, this one portrayed a variety of testimonies and stories of various LGBT people within Orthodox Jewish communities. As with other productions, the emotional humanity of the suffering is juxtaposed with the cold and seemingly heartless ideals of the conservative fundamentalists. Also, however, as with other productions, the ultimate message is one of compassion, of love, and of hope.

What may come of the contentious issues of sexual orientation and faith in world? Will there ever be peace or reconciliation between the two? Will fundamentalists and progressive forever be at odds with each other? Does a “middle ground” so-to-speak ultimately defame both side of the issue, thus nullifying any principles or values that are held so dear to the heart? Or will we simply continue to struggle into the future and beyond?

While there are striking similarities in Christian communities regarding this issue, I think it’s actually both, more difficult and easier in the Jewish communities. Thus, I conclude, while the engagement may deem itself just as difficult, just as painful, just as heart-wrenching and emotional in both Jewish and Christian communities, I sense that there is much less of a propensity to “leave” the faith in Jewish communities than in Christian communities by someone who is a LGBT person.

This would be my reasoning:

Jewish traditions have always wrestled. The binding and loosing principles in Judaism can create many more doors for one to open and shut. The willingness to engage with the soul of a person as fully human provides more allowances for interpretation. The traditions that hold people together have a prominence of place in addition to the commandments. Yes, orthodoxy is strong. Yes, the Torah hold pride of primary place in the minds of Jews. But as the adage goes, “two Jews, five opinions,” there is a flexibility of allowance that seems to also permeate the Jewish faith.

I recommend this film for anyone of any faith, and I commend the film makers for “putting a human face” on the issue very well.