Filmmaker from Leonia tackles Israeli issues

Filmmaker from Leonia tackles Israeli issues

'Faces' film will show at area schools

When Amy Beth Oppenheimer was growing up in Leonia, she couldn’t wait to learn more about Israel firsthand.

“I loved our community, but there was a little something lacking in the Israel education we received,” she told The Jewish Standard.

Her 2009 documentary, “Faces of Israel: A Discussion About Marriage, State, and Religion in the Jewish Homeland” polls Israelis of many ideologies and backgrounds on hot-button issues such as the controversy over legalizing civil marriage.

She will present the recently updated documentary, which she considers a teaching tool, at Kushner Yeshiva High School in Livingston on Tuesday, May 10, as well as at The Frisch School in Paramus on May 12 in a program co-sponsored by Ma’ayanot Yeshiva High School for Girls in Teaneck.

Amy Beth Oppenheimer, 25, of Leonia has produced a film, “Faces of Israel” that polls Israelis on controversial issues. She will screen the film next week to area students.

The film is divided into 10 “theme chapters” that handle separate issues and feature face-to-face interviews with Israelis. Subjects include the role of the Israeli rabbinate and the continuing controversy regarding who is a Jew. Personalities interviewed for the film include Rabbi Yitzchak Peretz, head of the office of the chief Sephardic rabbi, and Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yonah Metzger.

“I wanted to bring this conversation to teenagers, so they can better understand the ways the Jewish state is growing and changing,” she said.

Israelis featured range from haredim to gay university students.

Oppenheimer, 25, a graduate of Johns Hopkins University, says her love for Israel inspired her to make the film during her year studying at the University of Haifa. At present, she and husband Yair Horowitz, 25, are traveling the United States in a recreational vehicle, seeing the national parks and screening the film to Jewish communities, including such outposts as Reno, Nev., and Salt Lake City, Utah.

“I developed the film to get different types of Jews together to discuss important questions of Jewish status, religious pluralism, and civil liberties in Israel,” she said.

While the school events are just for students, a May 10 evening screening at the Rockland JCC in West Nyack, N.Y. is open to the public. For more information on the film and upcoming screenings. visit or e-mail

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