Culture

When Do We Eat? Wednesday, my place…

Hey freedom lovers, what goes on? I’m in NYC for the holiday, and though Not Bored, a little restless and feel like I’ve lost track of something precious sometimes. That in mind, i’d like to throw out an invitation to anyone out there to come to Seder by my parents house.
Don’t worry: When do We Eat it’s not.
I got a link to the When Do We Eat trailer like a year and a half ago when Cannabischassidis first broke and some one sent the link to it, telling me that they thought i’d be interested. I was, it looked huge, and I was excited to see the finished project.
I caught the free screening that week and was not dissapointed. I laughed, I cried, I understood ideas in Kabbalah that I had previously not related to so visually… It really is a monumental achievement of expression, somehow giving over what could not quite have been said about what the Pesach seder is really about.
That is, the mystery of working shit out, between families. This has been going on a long time, and wrapped up in the secret meaning of all jewiah holidays is the unspoken cultural confrontations being invited to either go on or not go on. Some holidays might be about repression of shit (examples?) But Pesach Seders are designed to ferment discussion, accusation, conflict, defensiveness, openness. The wine lets us feel free, and the seder format demands confrontation about ideas, personal histories, and surrenders. My fathers were enslaved in Egypt, but we were set free by G-d, I get to tell my parents, and it not hurtful, it’s devotional!
Really amazing about the movie? No characters were dismissed for comic relief, robbed of humanity to become the butt of jokes or the scapegoat… everyone had their real, honest experience and right to be given over, their justifications for pecadillios and wrongs inflicted on others both aired out, justified and de-justified. Really, a pretty impressive piece of therapy.
The holocaust trauma was brought up, sexual norms and exploitation, the mystery of drugs touched on just a little. Love, commitment, responsibility. The mystery of money, how it’s made and who has a right to spend it, the mystery of religion as an escape from responsibility… The Baal Teshuva son wears techeiles despite being a Chabadnik, which I thought was adorably idiosyncratic… (Spoilers!) One of the best parts of the movie for me was seeing his character not just played for laffs, but offering a lot of really deep insight about what the seder is doing to us on a personal level. That to me was amazing, his religion had nothing to do with external conflicts as much as internal processes, the Pharoah within and so forth…
(super spoiler, spoilier than others!) I thought it was really interesting that he “sins” with his second cousin during the seder, for a few reasons:
They talk about the halachic permissibility of second cousins, a halachic truism… They don’t quite bring up a few Chabad theological thingies that make the “sin” make a lot of sense, like for example, I was really surprised to hear from a friend a while back who grew up in Crown Heights that, apparently, in Chabad, they’ve totally institutionalized Yeridat L Tzorech Aliya. That is, it’s generally recognized that people other than the Tzaddik WILL sin, and it’s ok, that’s part of the process. There is no violent repression of sinning in Chabad like there is in other Chassidic communities, or at least, so i’m told. Which made his “process” all the more interesting to me, and his decision to run with the passion (“fuck it, i’ll fix it on yom Kippur”) all the more mystically accurate, even though he feels really bad afterwards.
Also, the question of the prohibitedness of the actual fuckery was subtly, though not seriously raised. The main problem would seem to have been her menstrual purity, since it’s kinda understood that the lady didn’t go to the mikvah… Buuut, it’s another controversial Chabad statement, apparently held by Moshe Feinstein also (won’t someone please come and correct me on this if i’m wrong?) That an ordinary household shower is accceptable as a mikva bi-dee-eved…
Stam, whatever. It’s a great film, you should all see it. There’s some fun special effects with sparks being lit up through human interactions and hands being reached out, along with some really cute musical jokes, and the best theraputic hug in a movie since Rambo: First Blood. But even if you don’t see it so quick, you’re still welcome to my parents house for the seder. They’re pretty subdued people, so don’t expect anyone to be naked, nessesarily, but it should be pretty open, deep, musical and homey. if you’re interested, email me at needelR at aol dot com, leave a message at 646 372 494, and, barring all that, pull an Elijah and just drop by at 344 south 3rd st. between Keap and Hooper in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, wednsday or Thursday night., apt 3b. Bring Wine if ya can… Happy independence day!

2 thoughts on “When Do We Eat? Wednesday, my place…

  1. Yoseph,
    Chag zameach and thanks for the great review of my movie “When Do We Eat?” (I co-wrote it with my husband Salvador Litvak, who also directed).
    Just wondering if you and your Jewschool readers were aware that Neil Genzliger of the New York Times said the film “shows nothing but contempt for what some people consider sacred.”
    ????
    My husband and I are religious people. I think you can see that the film is very spiritual and pro-Judaism.
    Can it be that the PC police at the NY Times simply can’t stomach a movie that’s pro-religion?
    I’m very curious to hear the Jewschool gang’s opinion on this. Rabbis from Reform to Hassidic have publicly supported “When Do We Eat?” and we’ve shown it at Jewish events around the world, including screenings sponsored by Hadassah, Aish, OhrHatorah, Jdate and Heeb. Yet several major critics (almost certainly secular) have characterized the film as deeply offensive to Jews.
    WHAT IS GOING ON HERE???

  2. it’s been the secular who have depended on a certain archaic and specific idea about what the sacred has to be about, more than anyone else, methinks. To get away from someone or something, you have to think you know all there is to know about them, y’know? Note the phenomenon of very non-religious people insisting on the validity of only traditional norms as being “correct.”
    The film seemed more critical and irreverant towards American cultural norms than Jewish religious ones, what with the relatively positive portrayal of drug use, compassionate sex, and the tragedy of money/power dynamics. The protestant virtue of Silence about Things That Matter was pretty thoroughly plowed, maybe that freaked some reviewers out, those for whom holy = awkward.
    I think alot of people were expecting a more ridiculous comedy of awkwardness, kind of a British “look! he’s doing that thing! In front of his mom!” kind of American Pie kinda thing, where nothing is valued or really said, besides some stupid ridiculous situation.
    Well, i for one am glad it wasn’t just that.

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