I just viewed this unique and compelling film which premiered at the Haifa Film Festival during Succot. The film is about Sophie Tzedakah, an actress and TV personality, whose life is filled with contradictions. Sophie, born in 1975 to a Samaritan family living in Holon, has cut off her ties with the Samaritan community and become a Jewish Israeli.
We meet Sophie in the film, Lone Samaritan (Barak Heymann, documentary, 52 minutes, 2009), which provides a small peek at the world of the Samaritan community – 730 individuals, half living in the West Bank on Mt. Gerizim near Nablus, the other half in Holon. The Samaritans preserve the laws of the Torah – brit, family purity, etc. and they speak Hebrew. However, in their need to preserve their small community and due to the fact that they do not have enough women to marry the eligible men in the community, they do not forgive any of the girls who leave the sect.
On camera, Sophie talks about growing up in a shattered home. When she was just a child, her older sister, Orna, disappeared from home and separated herself from the community in order to marry a Jewish man. Their father reacted so badly, that eventually the other sisters left also. But things were not so simple for their parents, Baruch and Tova Tzedakah – they were completely shunned by the other Samaritans and still today suffer from being socially and religiously ostracized. As a result, Baruch is a broken man and Tova is torn between her estranged daughters and her husband. The title of the film refers to her father, a man who continues to observe his faith and tradition -- alone.
Sophie has married – and divorced – outside the community. She traveled abroad and lived all these years outside the community. But, she is very connected to her parents and to the traditional framework in which she was raised. However, she cannot stop herself from being critical of her father who adamantly continues to try to be part of a group even though he is not accepted.
It is so difficult to separate oneself completely from one's roots and to be cut off from the things that are important to you. When asked about her identity and where she feels she truly belongs – Sophie surprises even herself by admitting that if there were no social issues involved, she would return to the community.
The film is available from Ruth Diskin Films