This program is generously sponsored by TD Wealth Management – Mark Abraham
THE WOMEN’S BALCONY
In a dramatic comedy that borrows from Aristophanes’ Lysistrata, this film exposes the tensions between different groups within Orthodox Judaism in Jerusalem, and provides a universally understandable tale about gender equality and religious fundamentalism. When the women’s balcony in an Orthodox synagogue collapses, leaving the rabbi’s wife in a coma and the elderly rabbi in shock, the congregation falls into crisis. A charismatic young rabbi from a nearby Yeshiva appears to be a savior after the accident, but as he slowly pushes his fundamentalist and sexist ways, it tests the women’s friendships and creates a rift between the community’s women and men. The film focuses on a lively and relaxed congregation who enjoy coming together as a community and who revere their elderly spiritual leader, Rabbi Menashe. When, during a Bar Mitzvah, the women’s balcony suddenly collapses, severely injuring the rabbi’s wife, the old rabbi can’t cope with the disaster. The men of the congregation are at first thrilled when seminarian Rabbi David steps in, leads prayers and supervises repairs. But when the building reopens, the women are dumbfounded to find that their bright, open balcony no longer exists, and that they are expected to attend services in a claustrophobic anteroom. The young rabbi further alienates them by implying that their sins might have provoked the accident. As the women walk out on their menfolk and hold a public protest outside Rabbi David’s seminary, it sparks a showdown between the rigid, sometimes joyless religiosity of the ultra-orthodox and those who find pleasure in traditional ritual without being overly strict in their observance. All’s well that ends well, and as a classic comedy, the film culminates with reconciliation and a wedding.
Israel, 2016, Hebrew with English subtitles, 96 minutes