Rabbi follows the 13-year evolution of Amichai Lau-Lavie from drag queen to rabbinical student to 21st century spiritual innovator. His cousin is the Chief Rabbi of Israel, his uncle is the former Chief Rabbi, and he descends from 37 generations of rabbis back to King David.
At first, Lau-Lavie rejects the call to become a rabbi, claiming, "Artists are the new rabbis." He launches Storahtelling, a Jewish ritual theater, and creates and performs a drag character, Rebbetzin Hadassah Gross, a Hasidic rabbi's wife. Over time, he puts aside Hadassah's wig and mask and we see him go through an extraordinary transformation. Lau-Lavie enters Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) to become a rabbi, the first in 37 generations in his family who will take on the role of rabbi outside Orthodoxy. We watch as he slowly embraces the ancient role of rabbi on his own terms, weaving together his explorations in a wide range of worlds - trickster, gay, counterculture, skeptic and seeker.
Lau-Lavie launches Lab/Shul (www.labshul.org), an everybody-friendly, God-optional, artist-driven, pop-up experimental congregation. He shows how religions, radically reinvented for now, can be a potent force for human rights and global tolerance, and creatively brings ancient ritual alive for our world today with hilarious and surprising twists.
All donations for the production and distribution of Rabbi are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law. Any donations of $500 receive a special thanks in the film's credits and website. If you would like to make a donation, please write your check to HARTLEY FILM FOUNDATION and designate it to Amichai Project in the lower left-hand corner.
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Director Sandi DuBowski has recently been awarded a production grant from The Sundance Institute Documentary Fund. Last year, 2,000 projects were submitted and 60 selected. His project has also received support from The Nathan Cummings Foundation, Bertha Foundation, Ben Lowy, Barbara Dobkin Foundation, Hartley Film Foundation, The Van Ameringen Foundation, The Rosenthal Foundation, Candescent Films, Jenerosity Foundation, The Queer Evolution Fund of Tides Foundation on recommendation of Craig Harwood and Tim Saternow, Catapult Film Fund, Reboot, Ullman Family Foundation, The Ettinger Foundation, MeetMarket and other individual philanthropists.
After filming for 11 years, DuBowski is looking to raise funds to move into post-production by end of 2016. He has raised more than $400K and is now 40% funded. All donations are tax-deductible.
If you would like to explore films with similar themes, please click on Judaism.