Award-winning documentary producer-director Gloria Greenfield will be in Teaneck on February 24 for the screening of her newest work, “Body and Soul -The State of the Jewish Nation,” at 7:45 p.m. at the Teaneck Cinemas on Cedar Lane.
The film examines the profound connections between the Jewish people and the land of Israel over the past three millennia, through interviews with historians, archaeologists, political scientists, religious leaders, and international law and media experts.
Among the 16 interviewees in the film are Harvard professors Ruth Wisse and Alan Dershowitz; the UK’s former chief rabbi, Lord Jonathan Sacks, Israeli archeologists Israel Finkelstein and Aren Maeir; Professor Eugene Kontorovich of Northwestern University School of Law, and Itamar Marcus, director of Palestinian Media Watch.
Ms. Greenfield, founder of the nonprofit Doc Emet Productions in Lexington, Massachusetts, said she began conceptualizing the film toward the end of 2012 as an antidote for Jewish illiteracy, particularly in the Diaspora. (“Emet” means “truth” in Hebrew.)
“By ‘Jewish illiteracy’ I am referring to the lack of knowledge about our more than 3,500-year-history, about our liturgy and about our texts,” she said. “At a time when the enemies of the Jewish people and Jewish state are engaged in a vigorous campaign to erase our history and fabricate pseudo-history, multigenerational ignorance of what it means to be a member of the Jewish people – of who we are, and where we came from – makes us dangerously vulnerable.”
The film project also attempts to “re-polish the honor of Zionism, which is the national liberation movement of the Jewish people, and to expose the vicious campaign to destroy the Jewish people through the erasure of our history,” she added.
Ms. Greenfield sowed some 30 years of strategic planning, marketing, publishing, and management experience into the founding of Doc Emet Productions in 2007. As former executive director of the David Project, she launched groundbreaking Israel advocacy training programs for American students in Israel.
Doc Emet’s first two releases were “The Case for Israel – Democracy’s Outpost” and “Unmasked Judeophobia” a film about the resurgence of lethal Jew-hatred around the world.
“Body and Soul” premiered in Jerusalem last October. It was followed by a post-screening discussion with Robert Wistrich, Yoram Hazony, and Eugene Kontorovich, moderated by journalist Melanie Phillips. Its North American premiere, at Symphony Space in Manhattan, was emceed by Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal.
Patty Borodach of Teaneck, who attended the Manhattan screening, said that the experts in the film “all had more or less the same message about the historic Jewish claim to the land and how that has developed over time. But they were many different voices – male and female, young and old. It wasn’t didactic like a history lesson. It was people speaking from the heart and from the mind in a way that was easy to absorb.”
Ms. Borodach added that she was pleasantly surprised at the makeup of the audience. “It was a very diverse audience in terms of age and religious leanings,” she said. “I had expected to see only the Orthodox.”
Ms. Greenfield said she is getting positive feedback about “Body and Soul” from Jews and gentiles alike. She wants the film to be seen by “everyone from policymakers to educators to students to good and decent people.”
“Even those who self-identify as advocates of Israel require much deeper understanding of the centrality of the land of Israel to Jewish identity, of the intellectual history of the development of Zionism, and of the legal history of Jewish rights to sovereignty in the land of Israel,” she added.
The film has been shown in Texas, Alabama, Washington, Michigan, Indiana, and Vermont and is scheduled to be screened in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Washington D.C., New York, Connecticut, California, New Hampshire, Canada, South Africa, and England over the next few months. It will be shown in New Brunswick on February 26 and in Jersey City on April 19, and will be available soon with subtitles in seven or eight languages.
The Teaneck screening of “Body and Soul” is sponsored by the New Jersey chapter of the Zionist Organization of America and American Friends of Yeshivot Bnei Akiva. The latter organization supports a network of 74 schools throughout Israel.
“American Friends of YBA is excited to promote ‘Body and Soul,’ which reflects the values of modern Zionism,” American Friends of Bnei Akiva’s associate director, Natalie Sopinsky, said. “This the Bnei Akiva ideology – the unbreakable Jewish bond to the land of Israel, the ancient history and eternal spiritual connection, and the modern call to all Jews to support the Jewish state with their heart and their hands.
“I’m sure American Jews will enjoy this film, and will find it educational and enriching.”
The Teaneck screening will be followed by a discussion with Ms. Greenfield, and preceded by a private wine and sushi reception for sponsors paying $36, $75, or $125. General tickets cost $12.50 until February 17, or $15 afterward. DVDs of the documentary will be available for $14.95.
For more information, go to www.bodyandsoulthemovie.com, or email the ZOA at ZOANJ@zoa.org, or call (201) 424-1825.