Divan follows the filmmaker's effort to retrieve a turn-of-the-century family heir loom - a couch. The filmmaker journeys from her birthplace, Brooklyn's Hasidic community, to its origins in Hungary and back. The couch - considered holy because certain Hasidic rabbis had slept on it - survived WWII and is in the filmmaker's great grandfather's house in Rohod, a northeast Hungarian town. In the tradition of storytelling, the filmmaker creates a visual parable about the Hasidic community that she left as a teenager. She trails the couch through a quirky landscape populated by Hasidim in Brooklyn, Holocaust survivors and ex-communists in Hungary, and, finally, the next generation of formerly-Hasidic Jews on the margins of their communities in New York and Israel.Written by
This documentary by Pearl Gluck is a wonderful insight into the world of Hassidic Jews and the role of the woman in their society. Ms. Gluck, who does not conform to traditions (she is not quite secular, but doesn't strictly adhere to Hassidism), is in search of her ancestors' divan (sofa), which is given a spiritual status for its historical use by rabbis who owned it and slept/sat on it for well over a century. She not only interviews several people who no longer practice Hassidism, but she also follows the male-only movement of the sect to which her father belongs to get down to the reasoning behind a woman not being allowed to own such an item.
An underlying theme is that of her immediate family, especially acceptance from her father, which creates a highly-charged emotional layer to her documentary.
She visits a relative in Hungary, then goes on (what turns into) a spiritual journey into what it means to be a woman in the Hassidic community. It is truly a wonderful piece: an insight into her and how she personally perceives it, both in the US and abroad.
Great stuff! Deserving of a look, especially for those interested in Jewish studies and how women are treated. Easily 8 1/2 of 10.------ E.
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