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Phyllis Chesler
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Posted in: Judaism, Women

Published on Jun 16, 2017 by Menemsha Films

Published by Menemsha Films

"A View from the Balcony" - Faith, Feminism & 'The Women's Balcony'

This movie is so enjoyable because it gives us the experience, even second hand, of a strong, faith-based community--and within it, strong women who love each other, and who are in loving marriages. It is a vision of a past world, but it satisfies our sentimental longing for much that has been lost in the modern world. The price of creating and belonging to a tight-knit religious community often requires too great a sacrifice for many modern feminists, and yet one still sentimentally longs for it.

In my view, the women rebel but only in the service of tradition, not to overthrow that tradition. I also do not see the film as a war between men and women but rather, as a religious controversy about whether cherished custom ("minhag") trumps Halacha ("religious law") as interpreted by an Ashkenazi rabbi who is a stranger to the easy-going Sephardic community. The question of misogynist strains in religion is a very important issue but it is far greater than what is happening among some Jews in Israel. Indeed, barbaric, religiously themed misogyny is a rising global problem. This is a point or a perspective that I stressed right away.

My sister panelists, (Shlomit Nehama, Sharon Weiss-Greenberg, and Judith Rosenbaum) including the film's writer, Shlomit Nehama, were smart, passionate, and eloquent. Our moderator (Emily Shire) expertly moved the conversation along. I had a good time--and think you will too.

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