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Trembling Before G-d

4.2 out of 5 stars 51 customer reviews

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(Oct 21, 2003)
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Editorial Reviews


Special Features

  • Featurette - TREMBLING ON THE ROAD: A look at the life-changing movement of the film around the world
  • Director's Short Film - TOMBOYCHIK
  • Interview With the Director, Sandi Simcha Dubowski
  • Conversation with Editor/Creative Collaborator, Susan Korda
  • More With Rabbi Steve Greenberg: The First Openly Gay Orthodox Rabbi
  • More With the Rabbis
  • Behind the Silhouettes
  • Petach Lev: The Trembling Israeli Education Project
  • Mark: The Musical
  • Deleted Scene: Sara and Her Kids
  • What is the Atonement Ceremony for Sexual Sins?
  • International Resources, Links and Glossary

Product Details

  • Actors: Shlomo Ashkinazy, Steve Greenberg
  • Directors: Sandi Simcha Dubowski
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: New Yorker
  • DVD Release Date: October 21, 2003
  • Run Time: 84 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000BV1YO
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #123,995 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Trembling Before G-d" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By lawyeraau HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 27, 2003
Format: DVD
Winner of the Teddy Award of the 2001 Berlin Film festival and a 2001 Selection of the Sundance Film festival, this is a beautifully realized documentary that is devoted to the stories of those who are gay and lesbian within the Jewish Orthodox and Hasidic communities. Their stories and their struggles break the viewer's heart. It shows the lengths that people will go to try to reconcile their Jewish faith with its strictures regarding homosexuality and still remain a member of that religious community. Some of the stories are very sad, but all are, nonetheless, enlightening. People of all faiths should make it a point to see this film, because reconciliation of faith with one's sexual orientation is not limited to those who profess Judaism. It is a question with which Catholics, as well as those of other faiths, grapple.
Masterfully directed by Sandi Simcha Dubowski, the film boasts a wonderful, joyous soundtrack by John Zorn that conjures up the biblical underpinnings and zest of the Jewish faith. The filming of people behind a white screen so that they appear as dark silhouettes against a light backdrop, at times, to show moments in the religious life of those of the Jewish faith is also striking and very powerful, as well as aesthetically pleasing. This was done because so many who participated in this film refused to appear on screen, so as to avoid ostracism within their respective communities. The final result is visually mesmerizing.

It took the director six years to get enough people who dared to speak out on film about this issue. Some of them are out of the closet, but a number of them are not. Some of them, mostly women, are, in fact, married to a member of the opposite sex, despite their sexual orientation, mostly quite unhappily.
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Comment 38 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD
Any documentary dealing with the subject of homosexuality is in danger of falling into the trap of advocacy for either side, thereby ignoring or demonizing the thinking and the experience of the opposing side. Typically, gays are portrayed as vulgar and shallow hedonists and religious people are portrayed as ignorant and intolerant rubes. This film avoids that trap entirely. It doesn't editorialize. It doesn't try to tie up loose ends. It has respect for the religious tradition that has led to the dilemna that the gay individuals are experiencing. It simply uses the camera as an objective eye into the lives of people we might never get to know. The effect of this approach is that we are allowed to see on our own the tradition and the individuals. As a result, the humanity of everyone is preserved and the value of the tradition is preserved. As a christian, I found the footage of orthodox culture fascinating. Scenes of yeshivas and orthodox weddings were totally new to me. This was a portrayal of a world I knew almost nothing about. Leave your knee-jerk reactions behind when you view this film and you will have your experience broadened.
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Format: DVD
Sandi Simcha Dubowski has made a splendid, thoughtful documentary that captures perfectly the varying responses of individuals caught between the orientation they feel naturally aligned with and the belief system that omits or even condemns them: what is it like to be gay or lesbian who is an Orthodox or Hasidic Jew? Is there room for them in their own religion?
No single point of view is proffered as the correct one; instead each person's particular difficulties are laid out for our consideration. Some remain sympathetic to their faith; some have all but abandoned it.
As a former fundamentalist Christian, I identified with the inner struggle these people endured - the sometimes awful tension between what one has been raised to believe and what one's heart has come to intrinsically feel. And having known a few gays within fundamentalism, too, I have to wonder, how do they stay? What must their struggle be like?
Congratulations Mr. Dubowski on a fine and worthy effort.
Comment 21 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD
No one has yet commented on the groundbreaking aspects of this film as a contribution to the documentary genre. Perhaps the subject matter was so compelling that people forgot that its rhetorical and structural elements were not invented ab nihilo, but are part of a very long and esteemed tradition. This film added extensively to the tradition that believes documentaries can change the world, not just bear witness to it.

I would also hope that viewers realize that this is not the last or only film on this topic, but one of the first, and that a flawed film is better by far than no film at all. It didn't have a Hollywood Ending especially for the individuals it portrayed who hoped it might be a catalyst for such an outcome - especially David. It may not satisfy everyone because it wasn't "fair and balanced", because it didn't attempt to be encyclopedic, because it couldn't hope to be unbiased except with respect to the empathy and sincerity it treated the people who appeared in it. There is no shanda (shame) in having a point of view. Yet how can you offer your work as Tikkun Olam when a community doesn't think there's anything in their life on the issue of sexuality and sexual identity that needs repairing? The isolated negative reactions of the conservative voices in the film and beyond are predictable because someone outside of their recognized authority structure is setting the agenda, exposing a neglected and painful issue, and they are forced to react. What is truly amazing is how the orthodox community's curiosity and sense of support for viewing the film and discussing it overcame their natural reticence and shame, and their leaders' sense that the time had come to make this very private issue a topic of public debate.
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