9 siblings. 22 nieces and nephews. What's wrong with David?
David is one of ten children from Aize and Masud Deri. Those ten children thus far have 22 grandchildren and those 22 grandchildren have produced 10 great-grandchildren. As the children and grandchildren age it will get even more confusing. This is diagrammed to great effect with a family tree. But, why isn't David's branch growing? The answer to this question at the center of his family in the winning documentary Say Amen!
David Deri lives in Tel Aviv, much to the chagrin of his small town and very traditional family. His parents, along with most of his siblings, are continually harassing him about his wedding plans. His mother tells everyone that she wants David to find a nice girl that will bring him back to religion. His brother Shlomi is continually trying to set him up with a friend but when confronted with David's homosexuality he insists that David should have left it, "like Israel leaves the nuclear question."
For a first person documentary Say Amen! remarkably lacks a sense of self-indulgence. It's mostly Deri filming other people talking about him while he starts to come out of the closet to his family. His camera occasionally annoys those would prefer to not be filmed but after his sister insists that "he's doing it for posterity" all relent.
Settler vs. native is not the only conflict in Israel. There are also the many conflicts that have arisen from having settlers from many parts of the world living in one place. Say Amen! documents one particular type, that of traditional Teimanim with the more urbane influences of Western Ashkenazim. As David does his best to convince his siblings that it's OK to be gay, and OK to tell mom and dad, they react in ways that reflect different aspects of Israeli society. One wishes that all intra-communal conflicts could be resolved to as touching and humorous an end as that of David Deri and his family, not that it's going to stop them from insisting that he make a family.
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