The Ma’aleh School of Television, Film and the Arts is a school based in Jerusalem which is dedicated to exploring the Jewish identity and Jewish heritage. Three award winning short films were screened in one program as part of the Israeli Film Festival (brought to you by the Australia Israel Cultural Exchange), all with a different take on the central theme of love:

  • Cheftzi On Air. A simple story of an agony aunt who provides romantic advice in the midnight hours and what happens when she proposes to her boyfriend on air. I didn’t think much of the overblown story but I liked its evocation of the seamy, stifling atmosphere of a Jerusalem night.
  • The Orthodox Way. A rom-com about picking up the wrong girl on a blind date. It was a light-hearted and amusing farce which bordered on ridiculous, but it was saved by the two charming leads.
  • Thou Shalt Love. A fascinating insight into the rituals and traditions of a yeshiva (religious school) and the pain and uncertainty experienced by a gay Orthodox Jew student as he tries to battle the conflict between his religious teachings and his sexuality. A wistful and powerful work.

As you’d expect from student works, the films lacked polish at times, but still the three films gave me three very different views on what it’s like to be Jewish in contemporary Israel.