First up, LEAVING THE FOLD, a fascinating documentary about Jews who were brought up ultra-orthodox, but have decided to leave. We meet several of them, and I certainly at least half-understand their motives. I was never ultra-orthodox anything (never even religious anything), and love the freedom to try new ideas and constantly refine/redefine the way I understand the world. But the most interesting character is actually the father who sees both his sons walk away from the faith. What's interesting is how he doesn't react with anger or ultimatums. He's disappointed, but still loves his sons, still has them over for Sabbath dinner, and makes a remarkably intelligent case both for the orthodox lifestyle and for treating loved ones who leave the fold with respect and love, all the while hoping, praying, and trying to convince them to come back.
And the second half of the show was GUT SHABBES, VIETNAM. Rabbi Menachem Hartman is from the Chabad-Lubavich movement. They send rabbis all over the world, no matter how remote. As long as they know some Jews live there, they will send someone to live there and bring them back to the fold. And that's how Rabbi Hartman, his wife Racheli, and his baby son Levi moved to Ho Chi Minh City. Immediate culture clashes, of course, but they carry the faith, find the local Jews, and start teaching and cooking kosher. It's just a weird experience, and oddly a demonstration of just how adaptable Jewish traditions can be to just about any culture.
Total Running Time: 105 minutes
My Total Minutes: 215,633