Friday, January 16, 2009

The Movie Defiance And How I Almost Converted To Judaism

I've been dieing to see the movie Defiance for an incredibly long time because the WWII era has always been a period in history that I've found incredibly interesting.  I was so excited that my mom took me to go see this film this morning.
For those of you who don't know what the movie is about, it is about four Jewish brothers who run away into the forest to hide from the Nazis.  They then welcome more Jews to come and live with them in the forest.  As their numbers grow, they begin to create a community in the forest and attempt to live their lives as full as they can.  And by the way, this is a true story and is based on a book that was written from interviews of survivors.  But just a warning, it is a hugely heavy movie (which shouldn't need to be said) and I highly recommend you bring along a box of tissues - you'll need it.
This movie has a special meaning to me.  When I was in fourth grade, I began looking for religion.  My parents never raised me with a particular religion, choosing instead to let me choose whatever religion I wished.  Well, after learning about WWII and the Holocaust, I became curious about Judaism.  I started reading every book on Judaism that I could get my hands on.  I read every book on Judaism that was in my school library, so my mom took me to the local library.  I continued to read and eventually, I had to have my mom read the books and explain them to me.  It wasn't long until I really began to follow the beliefs of this religion.
When my mom realized how serious I was about this religion, she took me to meet a rabbi.  The more I talked to him, the more I wanted to convert to Judaism.  She continued to take me to meet and speak with more people who were Jewish.
Finally, I insisted that she let me convert.  After a long discussion, she decided that she would find a few kosher recipes, and she said that if I was really devoted, then I would have no problem eating strictly kosher.  Turns out...eating kosher was a lot more difficult than I thought.
And it turns out that Judaism was not right for me.  I eventually became comfortable with not identifying with any particular religion, but to instead develop my own spirituality that has been influenced from a large number of religions.

Nonetheless, please, go see the movie Defiance.  It is such a wonderful, moving, and inspirational movie.  It warms your heart to see such selflessness and true love through an era of darkness.


Miriam said...

I believe I read this book years ago (it seems vaguely familiar); I'm glad to hear there's a movie. Thanks for the tip, Elyse!

nickmgombash said...

I don't believe you have to necessarily eat strictly kosher to be jewish. My aunt, uncle and two cousins are jewish and are very devoted to their temple and religion. They go to every service, to sunday school, are involved in the temple board, celebrating every holiday at home.. everything.

Elyse said...

I'm not trying to imply that anyone who doesn't follow the law of Kosher isn't Jewish.
I am merely saying that the rabbi who I had contacted stressed the rules of Kosher.
My decision to not follow Kosher is not the only reason why I did not convert. There are many reasons, but I think that overall, I was just not ready to choose a religion. I don't think that I had matured enough - I was only about 9 or 10 years old.
I still keep in contact with that rabbi every once in a while, because he was so incredibly kind to me.

Gayle Gresham said...

Elyse, have you read any of Tricia Goyer's books? From Dust and Ashes is about the liberation of a concentration camp. Tricia's research is astounding and she has several WWWII books out. They are Christian fiction.

Abba-Dad said...

I just bought the book, but have heard of this story before. I really want to read the book before I see the movie. I am currently reading "The Lost" which is very interesting and you should check out.

I have relatives who escaped from their shtetls into the forests and joined the Partisans to fight the Nazis. I need to go back and find all the stories they wrote and add them to my blog. The problem with these stories is that it usually puts you in a somber and dark mood.

Elizabeth said...

I am about to watch this movie for the first time. Thanks for the review!

I am curious about your religion search, although I don't want to pry. I don't meet that many people nowadays who are searching for religion. So many seem to be running away from it!