Rabbi to be celebrated at film fest

Rabbi to be celebrated at film fest

Rabbi Steven Kushner
Rabbi Steven Kushner

TEMPLE NER TAMID (TNT) will present the Kushner Film Festival Oct. 26-28, part of a year-long celebration honoring Rabbi Steven Kushner as he prepares to retire from the pulpit of the Bloomfield synagogue, where he has served as the religious leader since its inception in 1980.

“The Women’s Balcony” — Thursday, Oct. 26, 8 p.m., Bow Tie Clairidge Cinemas, Montclair. This winner of five Israeli Academy Award nominations last year focuses on an Orthodox synagogue community in Jerusalem appalled when a strict rabbi who comes to their aid preaches rigid gender roles. The lighthearted film also examines the tensions between Israel’s ultra-Orthodox and more liberal factions. A discussion will be led by Jewish and Israeli cinema expert Professor Eric Goldman.

“Strength to Strength” — Friday, Oct. 27, following Shabbat services at 6:30 p.m., TNT. This film tells the story of Rabbi Steven Kushner, the “man behind the cloth,” exploring his unlikely path to the rabbinate. In a discussion with documentary filmmaker John Block, the rabbi reflects on the trials he’s faced as a spiritual leader and shares insights gained during his 40-year career. Block will lead a discussion; dinner will be provided.

Dan Perri, Title Sequence Design and Stories — Saturday, Oct. 28, 1 p.m., TNT, following Shabbat services and lunch. A former temple member and a friend of the rabbi, Perri is the creative force behind many iconic title sequences, including “Star Wars,” “Taxi Driver,” and “Raging Bull.” Perri will offer stories about his work, the stars, and the entertainment industry and will display examples of his craft. Lunch will be provided following Shabbat services.

 “Casablanca” and Steve’s Café — Saturday, Oct. 28, 6:30 p.m., TNT. The classic film — frequently cited in Kushner’s sermons — starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman takes place in 1940s Morocco, as Vichy officials, Nazi officers, French loyalists, and escaped freedom fighters come together in “Rick’s Café.” New School professor Noah Isenberg (author of “We’ll Always Have Casablanca”) and Kushner will share little-known information about the Jewish connections in the making of the film. Goldman will be host and moderator for the discussion.

Mediterranean tapas, wine, martinis, and desserts will be served; Ed Alstrom will be “Sam,” playing it “again” for the evening. 1940s-period attire is suggested. 

For fees and information, call TNT at 973-338-1500.

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