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PBS doc explores
a family in conflict.
e could be like the Mayans
and the Incas. People will
come to Jerusalem and say,
`Yes, there were these curious people
The statement comes around the mid-
dle of Out of Faith, a documentary airing
on Detroit Public Television on April
19. It offers a moving, honest and even-
handed look at the problems interfaith
marriage creates for the Jewish people.
We all know the numbers. Half the
time a Jew marries, it's to a non-Jew. And
in only a third of those unions are the
children raised Jewish. What provides
this film with its power is that it isn't
about abstract statistics; the film is about
one family in conflict over the issue.
The matriarch, Leah Welbel, and her
husband, Eliezer, survived almost three
years in Auschwitz. They had two sons,
one of whom married a Christian who
converted, and five grandchildren.
When the first grandchild, Danny,
intermarried, Leah refused to speak
to him. "If I let this happen, I feel like
I betray" all those who died, she says.
"I paid the highest price for my Jewish
faith. I paid it with blood. And that
reminds me: stick to our faith."
Of course, the issue never is simple.
Although Leah was raised Orthodox,
she was in many ways a cultural Jew
who, unlike her mother and grand-
mother, never lit Shabbat candles
— though she says she was Jewish
in her heart. Half of Danny's relatives
12 Angry Russians
Playing April 17-19 and 24-26 at the
Detroit Film Theatre in the Detroit
Institute of Arts is the Russian
film 12, based on the famous 1957
American film 12 Angry Men. The
original was the first film directed
by the still active Sidney Lumet,
84, with a screenplay written by
the late Reginald Rose.
Both films open with a jury
considering the case of a teen-
age boy accused of stabbing his
father to death; and, initially, most
jurors think the boy is guilty. In the
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Out of Faith airs 4:30 p.m.
Sunday, April 19, on Detroit Public
Television-Channel 56. See it also
2 p.m. Monday, April 27, at the
Commerce 14 theater as part of
the Lenore Marwil Jewish Film
original, the boy
is Puerto Rican.
In the Russian
version, the boy
is a Chechen war
orphan adopted by
a Russian officer.
Juror 8, played
by Valentin Graft,
is an elderly Russian Jewish intellec-
tual/Holocaust survivor who shares
his story, as do the other jurors.
12, in Russian with English subti-
tles, was Oscar nominated in 2008
for Best Foreign Language Film.
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Holocaust survivor Leah Weibel
— the family of his convert mother
— are Catholic. And to add just a touch
of pressure, Danny's wife Shannon is
pregnant and about to deliver Leah's
The film was shot over a period of
four years, and it seems as though
Leah comes to regret her decision
but is too prideful to make the first
overture. And Danny and his wife are
too angry. At one point, they refuse to
come to a family Thanksgiving celebra-
tion because Leah will be there. It puts
strains on the entire family.
When Danny's sister Cheryl also mar-
ries a Christian, she's worried about how
her grandmother will react. As she tear-
fully recounts, Grandma embraced her.
But it was a bittersweet moment. At the
moment of embrace, all Cheryl thought
about was how Leah "doesn't accept
Danny and how much pain he and
Shannon must be in at that moment"
The filming includes visits to Leah's
hometown in Slovakia and to Auschwitz.
The denouement is almost poetic: a sad
poem, but certainly fitting.
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