Directors/Producers: Gerald Krell and Meyer Odze
Jews & Christians: A Journey of Faith
This award-winning documentary is based on the book Our Father Abraham: The Jewish Roots of the Christian Faith by Marvin R. Wilson, PhD, and includes lively interviews with close to forty Jewish and Christian scholars along with spontaneous commentary by lay people.
The filmmakers gained access to numerous interfaith programs in action and the camera captures Rabbis answering probing questions from Catholic high-schoolers and Priests answering Jewish students' questions. Teachers wrestle in roundtable discussions over the best way to tackle difficult interfaith issues in the classroom and congregations of Jews and Christians meet to argue their differences and honor their commonalities.
Much of the film focuses on the common roots of these two major religions. As Dr. Harvey Cox, Professor of Divinity at Harvard notes at one point: "Jesus would seek out a synagogue if he came back to pray."
The camera intercuts between Ash Wednesday services and Yom Kippur services with commentary from theologians and Rabbis regarding ash as it was symbolized in the first century and now. Scholars then consider water as a symbol of cleansing and immersion, and as the camera films baptisms in the river Jordan, viewers are reminded that John the Baptist was a Jew and that the Jewish tradition of thrice immersion in the first century gave rise to the Christian baptismal ritual of thrice immersion in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The camera travels back and forth between a Seder and Good Friday service, underlining the textual similarities and differences in a visual way. Common threads of wilderness and temptation are delineated.
The sacred texts are addressed from many angles. A tour guide in Jerusalem comments: "There is not a word in the Lord's Prayer that would not be said by an Orthodox Jew. The words are kosher to the hilt." Another scholar dwells on the psalms and their roots in the synagogue system.
As Gustav Niebuhr commented in The New York Times in a film review, difficult as it can be to accomplish, "...Jews & Christians: A Journey of Faith successfully turn[s] a scholarly work into film."