This new film premiered at the recent Jerusalem Film Festival. The film tells the story of Bruria -- who works in a bookstore, mother of two and is married to a loving husband who is an educator in the haredi school system. Thirty years ago, Bruria's father wrote a book about her namesake, Bruria of Talmudic times, who was tested by her husband. That book was burned and her father was excommunicated as a result of having written it. Bruria is now struggling to learn about her father's book and about the traumas of her own past. In her own way, she attempts a small revolt against her husband who wants to forget the past and is adamantly against her searching for a copy of that book – only later in the film do we discover why he is so against it. This is a film about the husband's need to control, about his inclination to test his wife, and about his wife’s need to test the limits of their lifestyle.
It seems that a haredi woman makes her feminist or personal revolt differently than a woman in more modern society. In her friendship with a secular woman, and in searching for the book that her father wrote, Bruria has chosen small rebellions against her husband and her community. But due to her daughter, who desperately wants to study Talmud in a rabbinic program for women (following in the footsteps of her mother's namesake, the learned Bruria of the Talmudic period), we see that things are changing faster in the next generation.
Notwithstanding my criticisms of the film -- there is so much in the script that is unclear, so much that seems unauthentic, and so many motivations that the viewer does not understand --this is a film that must be seen! It provides insight into a world that is so unfamiliar to us, the haredi or ultra-orthodox world. At the same time, it gives us a glimpse at issues of family life and the status of women in that community.
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