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Hussam has been a lifelong human rights activist who is passionate about promoting democratic societies, in the US and worldwide, in which all people, including immigrants, workers, minorities, and the poor enjoy freedom, justice, economic justice, respect, and equality. Mr. Ayloush frequently lectures on Islam, media relations, civil rights, hate crimes and international affairs. He has consistently appeared in local, national, and international media. Full biography at: http://hussamayloush.blogspot.com/2006/08/biography-of-hussam-ayloush.html

Friday, August 21, 2009

An orthodox Jew + a devout Muslim = a great movie

I am a bit slow in catching up with movies. I depend on others recommending good one for me to watch. I just can't believe that the movie "Arranged" never made it on my radar screen until a friend of mine, a devout Mormon, strongly recommended it to me during my recent trip to the LDS Church's HQ in Salt Lake city.

I took note of the title and promised that I will watch it. I finally got the chance to watch it with my family.

It is a great movie with lots of positive messages. Even my teenager kids liked it.

The film, released in December of 2007, tells the story of two young women, a devout Muslim and a devout Orthodox Jews whose parents are trying to arrange suitable husbands for each.

The story, though intentionally over-simplistic, takes us into the inspiring journey of the two seemingly different young and smart women as they become close friends and as they realize how similar their traditions are.

The film challenges stereotypes about Muslim-Jewish relations, religious families and communities, and arranged marriages. It also reminds us of the challenges all religious communities face in a predominately secular society. As a bonus, the film also helps humanize and explain Muslim families, fathers, and practices.

It is a clean movie that is suitable for the whole family. Rent it and watch it. Let me know what you think.

Click to watch a trailer


Here is a good review to read:

Film Review
Publish Post

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat


Directed by Stefan Schaefer, Diane Crespo
Film Movement 03/08 DVD/VHS Feature Film
Not Rated

Rochel Meshenberg (Zoe Lister-Jones) is about to begin teaching special education at a public school in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn. She is an Orthodox Jew of marriage age, and her parents are very excited about finding her a husband through a matchmaker. They are convinced that this process will be an adventure for her, "the most exciting time of her life." At school, she meets Nasira Khaldi (Francis Benhamou), another first-year teacher who is a Muslim woman of Syrian descent. Her parents have also begun to look for a husband for her.

Rochel and Nasira's supervisor, Principal Jacoby (Marcia Jean Kurtz) is a secular Jew who is saddened to see these two bright and attractive women dressing so conservatively and subjecting themselves to what she views as an outmoded and repressive patriarchal system. For example, she suggests that Nasira's wearing of a headscarf actually gets her more attention, which "defeats the purpose." Although she claims to want only the best for the two teachers, her criticism seems highly inappropriate to Rochel and Nasira, who start a friendship.

In the classroom, the kids question whether they hate each other since they have heard that the Muslims want to get rid of Jews. Rochel designs a unity circle exercise in order to help the students better appreciate differences and the benefits of choice and community. When Rochel invites Nasira to her home to work on a school project, her mother gets very upset. She worries about what the neighbors will say about her daughter having a Muslim friend and even if it might affect her prospects for getting a husband.

Rochel begins meeting men suggested by the matchmaker, but they are either too shy or too self-absorbed. She tells her mother that she'd rather wait than marry one of them. She even visits a cousin who left the Orthodox tradition for her own brand of freedom. Invited to "step into the world and see how it feels" by going to a party, Rochel tries to fit in but she feels extremely uncomfortable with the liquor, the drug use, and couples necking.

Nasira has an easier time getting rid of a suitor who is a middle-aged acquaintance of her father. She believes that she will meet a suitable husband according to God's will and besides, she knows the tradition of arranged marriage works since her father and mother are a good example.

Arranged is one of the most spiritually literate films of the year. Directed by Stefan Schaefer and Diane Crespo, it is carried into our hearts by two radiant performances by Zoe Lister-Jones and Francis Benhamou as Rochel and Nasira. It is a delight to see a film that celebrates the integrity and zeal of two deeply religious women as they question tradition but in the end discover they can support it as a path with meaning. This is the kind of small independent film that often gets lost in the shuffle of big releases. Make time to experience this rare religious drama that salutes the free choices of an Orthodox Jew and a Muslim as they create a deep friendship at a crucial juncture in their lives.

1 comment:

American Niqabi said...

Best. Movie. EVER!!!!