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A Bit of Culture

By Yisrael Medad
4/30/2008, 12:00 AM

Despite my colleague's impressive record, the nationalist/religious camp is in sore need of several Tzvi Fishmans.  Among other fronts, the cultural sphere is permeated with a negative, mocking and sarcastic portrayal of genuine committed Judaism.

Here's a case in point:-


This is the ad for a new play entitled "Alma and Ruth" written by Goren Agmon which is being presented at the prestigious Bet Lessin theater.  And the plot?

Alma (Yona Elian, pictured below) is in the publication business and a former kibbutznik.  She is raising two children, a son and daughter.  When her husband, a mountain climber (of all things), is killed on a slope, the daughter, Maya, becomes observant and there is a break in the mother-daughter relationship.  Just at this time, Alma decides to publish a book by a Hareidi woman, Ruth, who asserts she suffered sexual abuse by a Rabbi.  The Hareidi community protests, Maya joins in and the mother-daughter conflict is ratcheted up.

The playwright, Goren Agmon, herself is a former resident of Kvutzat Schiller who became observant at age 17 and returned to secularism at age 20.  She claims that she suffered rejection and she finds a link between the kibbutz society and the Hareidi society in their relationships with rejected children and censorship of opinion.

Artistic expression seems to be a problematic issue for the religious.  The cinema, the stage, painting, literature and other spheres are very powerful means of communication and influence not to mention the media.  But somehow, these areas of human endeavor as practiced by the observant, for good and not-so-good reasons, lag behind the secular elements of our society.

There must be a solution. Not everything can be written about or portrayed but I am sure much more can be done.

Do I hear applause?