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Rabbi Pinsker


Ami Hassan and the Soup Nazi
Photo by Hart Piekoff

 
VISION TV PRESENTED ROSH HASHANAH DOCUMENTARY BY LANK/BEACH PRODUCTIONS ON SEPT 7 AT 10 P.M. ET

RABBI PINSKER WROTE “ FILM TREATMENT” AND MANY WINNIPEGGERS INCLUDING AMI HASSAN ARE IN IT

by Rhonda Spivak, August 30, 2010

A documentary that explores the meaning and significance of the Jewish New Year will be aired Sept. 7 at 10 p.m. ET on Vision T.V.  

The film includes interviews with a number of  Winnipeg Jewish community leaders, including Rabbi Alan Green, Rabbi Lawrence Pinsker, Cantor Mass, and Maestro Yuri Klaz and the choir of Shaarey Zedek synagogue, Rabbi Ari Ellis of Herzliah-Adas Yeshurun Synagogue. Many of the scenes were filmed at Shaarey Zedek.

“Dozens of people in the Winnipeg Jewish community, even hundreds, are in the footage of the film that was shot at the synagogue, “ says Rabbi Pinsker, who was  very involved in  the film’s making form the outset.

“Vision TV invited people to submit film proposals, which are like sketches or outlines of the film.  There were a number of submissions, and the film treatment that I prepared was chosen in the competition,”  Pinsker explained.

“The film shows how the ideas and themes of Rosh Hashana flow into and through people’s lives. I wanted it to be a film about real people with real lives who go to work every day….the film brings out  the themes of tikkun olam (repairing the world) , tsedaka , justice, teshuva, and other major themes of Rosh Hashana. ”  

Pinsker noted, for example, that there is footage that was shot at Kyra Swartz’s bat mitzvah, which was held on a Rosh Chodesh (onset of a new month), at the dedication of a Torah scroll in memory of Morrish (Moishe) Chochinov, and after the conclusion of Yom Kippur services last year – but that none of the footage was actually shot on a Yom Tov or Shabbat in violation of traditional custom and practice.

"In Judaism, what we talk about is what we have to do. We have to walk the talk," says Rabbi Pinsker in the film.

Lesley Emery, the program coordinator of Shaarey Zedek  observes, “We have a chance, luckily, as Jews, to make up for our imperfections and to try to do better for the next year.”

Produced by Winnipeg's Lank/Beach Productions,[Luanne Lank is the producer and Barry Lank is the director and cinematographer] the hour-long film is hosted by award-winning Canadian broadcast journalist Ralph Benmergui.

In the film, rabbis, religious scholars, community leaders, and the proprietors of a Jewish bakery in Ottawa all comment on the meaning and significance of the Rosh Hashana holiday, and examine its traditions and customs. There are also commentaries from members who are proprietors of a women's bridal shop, a noted Winnipeg lawyer, and a Critical Care doctor, as well as Ami Hassan, owner of the Falafel Place on Corydon. Even Seinfeld's “Soup Nazi”, comic actor Larry Thomas, explains what Rosh Hashana means to him.

“Larry Thomas was in Winnipeg to do a gig at Rumours and just happened to be at Ami’s Falafel Place when we arrived to film Ami. In the film, he and Ami talk about both memories and their understanding of what  Rosh Hashana  means in  a great exchange. It was pure serendipity that Larry Thomas happened to be there that day,” Pinsker told the Winnipeg Jewish Review.

Pinsker who conceptualized the film and wrote the initial treatment, said he is "pleased" with the way the film turned out. "Barry Lank's cinametographic genius and his skills gave a truly beautiful shape to the finished product," he said. “I was amazed by Barry and Luann’s insights and cinematography, the work of the scriptwriter Ruth DeGraves, and especially the questions posed by the film’s editor, Karsten Wall and assistant editor Justin Pokrant. Having worked on other TV and film productions in the past, I am very impressed by Barry’s team. They had the unenviable task of distilling dozens of hours of interviews and film shoots into the documentary that will be shown on September 7th.”

“We were also privileged to have the Reverend Doctor James Christie, Professor and former Dean of Theology at the University of Winnipeg, share his experience of Rosh Hashana. His comments about Jewish spirituality and the power of Rosh Hashana were important contributions to the documentary.” 

Rabbi Pinsker added that he hopes the film "will help non-Jews and Jews alike to understand a little more about spirit of Rosh Hashana and how it contributes to the way that Jews view life, and maybe contribute some insight into  the fundamentals of Jewish theology as well. We have shown it to some non-Jews who have given very positive feedback….”

He also noted that he hoped the Canadian community would have a glimpse into the beauty and richness of the Winnipeg Jewish community, and especially Shaarey Zedek, whose staff and membership of all ages were uniformly generous with their time and positive experiences of the High Holydays at the synagogue.

Other locations in which portions of the film were shot include Ottawa, Toronto, New York City, Israel, and Sedonia, Arizona. The film shows bakers dusted in flour making bread and challah, a mashgiach (kashruth supervisor) inspecting the bakery, and Benmergui blowing a shofar in the oldest syn¬agogue in Canada, which is adorned with frescoes depicting imaginary biblical landscapes. 

The film includes basic information as well, including the fact that the Jewish New Year is  part of a ten-day cycle encompassing Yom Kippur. The message is that it is never too late to make amends and live a more fulfilling and meaningful life, and that every Jew has a part to play in the process of repairing the world (tikkun olam).

 
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.


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