The temperature might still be in the triple digits, but summer is technically ending and the Jewish community is prepping for fall. 

Along with the Red Rocks Music Festival and Valley Beit Midrash’s learning events, two signal fall cultural happenings, the East Valley JCC launches its third annual Israeli movie series on Sunday, Sept. 8, screening one movie per month until August 2020.

Rabbi Michael Beyo, EVJCC CEO, said that the films in the series were carefully chosen. 

“Each year we aim to select films that teach us about different aspects of history and culture through the eyes of Israeli filmmakers.” Beyo said. “All the movies and documentaries will make us think and explore different aspects of Israeli society in a closer way, in a more authentic way.”

The films were chosen by an EVJCC committee, which reviewed hundreds of titles, keeping in mind last year’s preferences. In order to be selected, a film has to either have been produced and filmed in Israel or cover some Israeli issue. The committee also looked for timely topics and films that provide a glimpse into Israeli life, culture and society. 

“At the EVJCC, we do a lot of education through our Jewish Life and Learning department,” Beyo said. “And when we do Israel education, we do not shy away from dealing with the real issues of Israel, dealing with the real problems and having serious conversations that allow a deeper understanding and deeper connection to Israel.” 

Some of the movies that Beyo is most excited for audiences to see are “A Song of Ascension,” which screens on Oct. 6, and “Torn,” which screens on Dec. 15. Both are documentaries, the most popular category for this year’s series. 

“A Song of Ascension” is about a young couple struggling with fertility issues and how they connect with a single mother who chooses to become their surrogate. “Torn” follows the story of a Catholic priest who learns that his parents were actually Jewish, and showcases his ensuing identity crisis.  

Other films look at specific moments in Jewish and Israeli history and offer a new perspective. 

“Sabena Hijacking: My Version” is a docudrama that recreates the infamous 1972 hijacking of the Belgian Sabena flight from Brussels to Tel Aviv. The documentary “Ghetto Uprising: The Untold Story” fills in missing historical details about the Warsaw Ghetto

uprising.

But not all the movies are serious affairs. “The 90 Minute War,” a satirical mockumentary, shows what might happen if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict had to be settled with a soccer match, with the losing side forced to leave and find a new homeland. There will also be some fun with three short films — the first time the series has featured a mini fest of shorts.

Beyo hopes that each screening serves to enhance the audience members’ link with Israel. 

“People connect to their Judaism in different ways, and presenting films that show different aspects of Jewish life and history is one way to help people learn and grow in a communal setting,” Beyo said. “Specifically showing Israeli films is a way to connect people to Israel and to help them better understand Israeli life and culture.”

The movies series opens this weekend with the documentary “Only God Should,” which features the investigative journey of a grandson to understand his grandfather’s act of vengeance against Poles complicit with the Nazis. It is screening at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 8. For more information about the series, go to evjcc.org/movie-series. JN

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