On Saturday, Beth Israel Congregation in Owings Mills and Columbia Jewish Congregation in Howard County each kick off their Jewish film series, showcasing documentaries, comedies and dramatic films from Israel, Hungary and the United States.
At 7 p.m., Beth Israel Congregation presents “Muhi: Generally Temporary.” The 2017 documentary tells the story of Muhi, a young boy from Gaza who has been living in an Israeli hospital for seven years. Caught in the religious and cultural conflicts that divide the region, Muhi’s time at the hospital is running out, and he is left with a decision to remain in Israel or return to his family in Gaza.
Rachel Glaser is director of education emeritus at Beth Israel Congregation and now serves on the committee for lifelong learning, which organizes the film festival.
“We see the film festival not only as entertainment, but as a way to expand our congregation’s experiences, knowledge and awareness through Jewish film and the experiences brought up by Jewish film,” said Glaser.
Beth Israel’s Jewish Film Festival, made possible by the Sabina & Walter Dorn Endowment Fund, will also feature the Dutch drama “The Bone Collector” on Jan. 26, and the 1973 classic Israeli musical “Kazablan” on Feb. 9. Each film will be screened at 7 p.m. A $5 donation is suggested.
Columbia Jewish Congregation’s 27th Jewish Film Series will begin at 7:30 p.m. with a presentation of “1945.” The 2017 Hungarian film sees an Orthodox father and son arrive by train to a small village in Hungary, shortly after the end of World War II. The presence of two Jewish men, returning to the town they were banished from during the war, sends a shock through the small Hungarian community.
Columbia Jewish Congregation member Tom Laufer is chair of the 12-person film committee, and has been a committee member for the most of the series’ history.
“Normally we try to have a balance between documentaries, drama, comedy and so forth,” said Laufer. “We look at various films and try to choose films from as recent as possible.”
Documentary “Challah in the Desert,” comedy “The Women’s Balcony” and drama “The Cakemaker” will respectively be presented on Feb. 9, March 16 and April 13. All films are presented at The Meeting House in Columbia.
The events abide by an itinerary known to committee members as “FRD”: film, refreshments and discussion. After viewing the films and schmoozing when they wrap, a moderated discussion is held to hear the opinions and insights from those in attendance. Tickets for the entire series can be purchased for $32. Three-film and two-film passes are respectively available for $27 and $19, and single-night admissions are $10.