Friday, March 23, 2007

Praying in Her Own Voice: Women of the Wall on Film

This morning I went to the DocAviv International Documentary Film Festival in Tel Aviv with other members of Women of the Wall to see Praying in Her Own Voice (Hebrew title: Kol be-isha tefilla), a film about our group and its legal struggle that was made by history professor and filmmaker Yael Katzir. I came out extremely moved, and wonderful to relate, I wasn’t the only one by far. It seems that the entire audience—which filled the largest auditorium at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque almost to capacity—was, too.

Yael, who spent four years making this film, put her heart and soul into it. Most important, she understood us. She got us: who we are, what we’re about (and, just as important, what we’re not about), what we want and why it is important to Israeli society and to Judaism as a whole. Thanks to her film, Israelis now understand that for the first time... and if we can judge by the audience’s reaction—prolonged, loud applause at the end of the film and the heartfelt comments they made to us after we left the theater—they get it, too.

People have already asked me where they can buy Praying in Her Own Voice on DVD, and I hope that soon I will be able to tell them. I recommend it highly: not because I am involved in Women of the Wall or because I appear in the film (a little), but rather because in my opinion it shows who we are, truly and simply, and why our struggle for the equal right of Jewish women’s prayer groups to worship according to their custom at the Western Wall has implications that go far beyond ourselves.

I had an additional reason for wanting to see the film, however: I did the subtitles, and for the most part, they came out very well.

I can hear my half-dozen readers ask: What do you mean, they came out very well? If you did them yourself, shouldn’t you know how they came out?

As it turns out, not quite.

When Yael asked me to do the subtitles, I asked a good friend of mine who graduated from the Maale School of Film, Television and the Arts several years ago to meet with me and show me the ropes. She graciously agreed, and during our talk she warned me that errors often creep into the subtitles after they have left the translator’s hands. Someone changes something during the editing stage, or the person responsible for uploading the titles may make a mistake somewhere. She recommended that I be present for the uploading to make sure that didn’t happen, but unfortunately, it didn’t work out. And indeed, changes were made and some few errors were introduced into the text after it left my hands. At this point, it can’t be helped.

But that’s a secondary, technical point. Most important is the film’s message, which comes through loud and clear thanks to Yael’s perceptive and compassionate eye. So go see Praying in Her Own Voice if you have a chance, or buy the DVD when it becomes available. I’ll certainly post the relevant information here when it is.

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