Category Archives: films/movies

Love and the Levirate marriage

I know it may seem like all is quiet on the Shosha front, but in truth in between the demands of life, I am slowly working away on a couple of projects – one of which is a novel with a Levirate marriage (in Hebrew, a yibbum) as the central narrative concern.

Interestingly, the concept of a Levirate marriage can be found in a number of different cultures and religions. In Judaism, the basic obligation of the law is that if a married man dies childless, his brother is required to marry his window and his widow is obliged to marry her deceased husband’s brother – thus ensuring a continuation of the genetic line of the deceased man.

Fortunately, in Judaism there is a get out of jail free card. Performing the ritual of halizah allows either (or both) party to  be released from the obligations of the Levirate marriage. Once halizah occurs, both parties can go off and marry whoever they choose. (Obviously, there’s more to it. Wikipedia has some good overview articles on Levirate marriage, yibbum and halizah if you are interested.)

My story’s coming along nicely – the idea has so much dramatic (and romantic) potential. Doing some research during chol hamoed Pesach – the intermediary days of Passover – I stumbled across a movie on the subject.

Loving Leah follows the story of Jake and Leah. Leah has recently been widowed by her rabbi husband, Benjamin. When Benjamin’s non-observant brother Jake is required to perform the halizah ceremony he backs out – and suddenly Jake and Leah are married.

Loving Leah is a Hallmark movie. I think it’s interesting that Hallmark went with a subject like this, but if you’re looking for sex scenes, you’re going to be disappointed with this film. Nonetheless, it’s cute – so if you are interested in watching it, you will find below a the trailer and the full movie (I’m assuming the full movie is unauthorized, but I have heard rumours that sometimes content providers allow unauthorized sharing and split the profits from advertising revenues. Otherwise it wouldn’t be fair, right?).

For anyone who has any insights on Levirate marriages/yibbum or halizah, please comment below or send me an email, message me on Facebook or tweet me. In my other life I’m doing some academic research for my Masters’ Degree on the subject and I would love to hear from you.

Hope you all had a good Passover – full of liberation and redemption.

Shosha xx

 

PS. The picture is Rembrandt’s painting of Yehudah (Judah) and Tamar – perhaps the most famous story exemplifying the Levirate marriage. 

Have you seen ‘Felix and Meira’?

Earlier this month, a new Canadian film dealing with sexual tension in an (ultra) Orthodox framework was released for general viewing in cinemas.

The film, ‘Felix and Meira’ (‘Felix et Meira’ in French, the language in which it is produced), explores the relationship that develops between a frum married woman, Meira, and a non-religious Jewish man, Felix. Their relationship as it develops from friendship to something more, results in Meira being exposed to a world outside of her chassidic community and causes her to question everything about her existence.

I love seeing how writers and filmmakers handle the tension that builds when people start to look at their life in a different way. From a storyteller’s perspective, Meira’s struggle intrigues me, as does the reaction of the people around her.

Because I haven’t yet seen it, I can’t be sure about details of the film, but it looks like it might push relationship and behavioural boundaries  further than than I do in my writing …but I can’t be sure!

Although reviews appear to be mixed, I am looking forward to seeing it. Let me know what you think if you already have.

Here’s the trailer in the meantime…