Kehilot Madlikot is a documentary series, produced by Moshe Alfi (Alafim Productions) about Jewish communities around the world, created for Israel TV (Channel 1) and being broadcast each night during Chanukah this week. The Hebrew title of the series could be understood in two different ways -- it could mean Super Communities or Communities Lighting Candles.
At the premiere screening last week at the Begin Center in Jerusalem, Moshe Alfi talked about his vision for this series -- to bring diverse voices of Am Yisrael to the fore and to show the Israeli viewing audience that there are a variety of ways to live a Jewish life. He talked about his desire to show a non-judgmental and pluralistic view.
There are 7 Jewish communities which are highlighted in this series -- Odessa, Buenos Aires, Oslo, Boston, Toulouse, Torino and Toronto.
A dwindling population -- Torino, located in the foothills of the Alps, has a Jewish community with a serious demographic problem. The dwindling community includes less than 1,000 individuals today. This is the community that gave birth to Primo Levi and still has a few surviving resistance fighters who fought against the fascists.
Pluralism -- Boston, on the other hand, is a lively and developing Jewish community. Anita Diamant (author of The Red Tent) lives in Boston and was the moving force behind the establishment of an alternative mikveh for liberal Jews which encourages people to celebrate simchas such as bat mitzvah or the birth of a child through immersion. According to Diamant, the "Jewish world has a multiplicity of voices." Also featured is an innovative and pluralistic community day school (K-8), called JCDS, offering an integrated curriculum that provides Hebrew study throughout the day. The Boston segment was directed by Einat Kapach.
Renewal -- Buenos Aires is the 6th largest Jewish community with a population of 250,000. The community is mostly secular with a strong connection to Israel. Living in the shadow of two terrible terrorist incidents against the Jewish community in the 1990s and the financial crisis that took place about 10 years ago, the community is trying to re-invent itself. Particularly energetic, the secular Jews are trying to revitalize the community and to stem the tide of assimilation by trying to redefine themselves. There is also a strong Chabad community with a growing educational system which includes schools and adult education, and a large program of social and medical services for the needy. Both communities -- the Chabad and the secular -- are grappling with what kind of Jewish life they want to continue to the next generation. The segment on Buenos Aires was directed by Jorge Gurvich who is well-known for his insightful documentary about Jewish life in Buenos Aires, Next Year in Argentina, and his extraordinary feature film, Mrs. Moscowitz and the Cats (previously reviewed on this blog). He is also the director of three very special short dramas: So We Said Goodbye, The Shower, and Pesya's Necklace.
Kehilot Madlikot is a series of 7 documentary chapters (2012). Contact Go2Films for more information on the availability of this new series.