By Lisa Nesselson
A Keshet production. (International sales: Keshet, Boston.) Produced by Idit Klein. Directed by Irena Fayngold.
With: Shulamit Izen, Rabbi Daniel Lehmann, Seth Izen, Judy Izen, Idit Klein.
An engaging portrait of a pioneering teen activist at The New Jewish High School of Boston — dubbed “New Jew” by students and faculty — “Hineini: Coming Out in a Jewish High School” examines the implications of affirming one’s gay orientation despite the Torah’s provision that “Homosexuality is an abomination before the Law.” Docu follows the self-assured Shulamit Izen as she reveals her lesbianism to the tightly-knit student body. Although her efforts to form a Gay-Straight Alliance meet considerable resistance, one surprising result is that four gay faculty members also decide to come out of the closet.
Docu would make a terrific teaching tool wherever the concerns of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people are an issue. Izen’s youthful enthusiasm for her faith is infectious. And her fear of homophobia is understandable: Gay sex runs counter to thousands of years of Jewish teaching. But texts on stoning unruly children are no longer adhered to, so why be a stickler on homosexuality? New Jew’s take on religious pluralism is never less than fascinating as students and staffers hold forth, pro and con. Docu renders ancient concerns as vibrantly contemporary.
Camera (color, DV), Bob Nesson; editor, Michael Traub; music, Thomas Martin, Terry Kitchen, Guy Mendilow. Reviewed at Boston Jewish Film Festival, Nov. 7, 2005. Running time: 62 MIN.