DVD release for groundbreaking documentary about Jewish LGBT youth

September 17, 2008

By Ethan Jacobs, Staff Reporter

Bay Windows: New England's Largest GLBT Newspaper

In 2005 the film Hineini, a documentary about a student at a Boston Jewish day school trying to start a gay/straight alliance (GSA), helped jumpstart a debate on LGBT inclusion in Jewish schools and communities. The film, a collaboration between the Boston-based LGBT Jewish advocacy group Keshet and filmmaker Irena Fayngold, became a powerful teaching tool for Keshet, which has sponsored screenings at schools and synagogues across the country. On Sept. 21 Keshet and Fayngold will party to mark the DVD release of Hineini at Club Café, where attendees can meet Fayngold and the film’s subject, Shulamit Izen, and hear a performance by local folkster Catie Curtis.

Idit Klein, executive director of Keshet, said the release of the film on DVD, combined with a new 175-page curriculum guide, will help extend the reach of the film and allow more schools to use it to lead a debate about the role of LGBT people within Jewish schools.

“I think that it makes readily available an educational tool that may of the synagogues and day schools and Jewish institutions we’ve worked with want to get their hands on,” said Klein.

Keshet will sell the DVD through its website, as well as at conferences and events. Klein said the organization has a tiered pricing system for the film and the curriculum guide based on the size and budget of the institution hoping to use the film.

In typical DVD fashion the release of Hineini will include extras not available in the original cut of the film. The DVD contains an interview with Izen, now a rabbinical student, about her perspectives on the film, a making-of feature and interview clips that wound up on the cutting room floor. It will also allow educators to play selected clips from the film that go with different sections of the curriculum guide.

“That will give rabbis and Jewish educators who want to address these issues and have a real commitment and good intentions but don’t necessarily know how to frame discussions in an appropriate way for different age groups and contexts, this will give them that context,” said Klein.

The Hineini release party will take place Sept. 21 at Club Café beginning at 6 p.m. Tickets cost $36. To purchase tickets or the DVD, or for more information, visit www.keshetonline.org or call 617.524.9227.

Ethan Jacobs can be reached at [email protected]