Half The Kingdom (1989)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):   BBB.5

Canada, 1989.  Screenplay by , , Francine Zuckerman.  Cinematography by .  Produced by , Francine Zuckerman.  Music by .  Film Editing by Roushell Goldstein.  

Jewish women, both orthodox and reform, take on the anti-feminist nature of their religion and come out swinging in this too-short but still rich documentary. Directors Roushell Goldstein and Francine Zuckerman interview a group of women who have all woken up to the patriarchal nature of their tradition but have decided to see it from a perspective in which they can continue to practice Judaism without accepting the second-class status they feel the religion accommodates. One woman sees the apex of her struggle in her decision to say kadosh for her father (which only men may do), another joins a group of women who go pray at the boys-only wailing wall (and inspires the film’s most unforgettable images of violent anger from the locals), and still another becomes a rabbi despite the fact that the job isn’t open to her sex. Even more important than the politically impressive content of this documentary is the director’s keen sense of showmanship: these ladies aren’t just rebellious, they’re also highly charismatic and personable, their on-camera interviews as entertaining as they are inspiring.

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