Trembling Before G-d is an unprecedented feature documentary that shatters assumptions about faith, sexuality, and religious fundamentalism. Built around intimately-told personal stories of Hasidic and Orthodox Jews who are gay or lesbian, the film portrays a group of people who face a profound dilemma - how to reconcile their passionate love of Judaism and the Divine with the drastic Biblical prohibitions that forbid homosexuality. As the film unfolds, we meet a range of complex individuals - some hidden, some out - from the world's first openly gay Orthodox rabbi to closeted, married Hasidic gays and lesbians to those abandoned by religious families to Orthodox lesbian high-school sweethearts.
The film interviews and follows several gay and lesbian Orthodox Jews, many only seen in silhouette, and also interviews several rabbis and psychologists regarding their views on homosexuality in Orthodox Judaism. The film repeatedly returns to several characters, including:
David is an observant Orthodox Jewish doctor from Los Angeles who has spent a decade trying to reconcile his homosexuality with Judaism. He has tried numerous forms of "treatment", from eating figs and praying to wearing a rubber band on his wrist to flickwhenever he thinks of men, but to no avail. During the course of the film, David decides to visit the Chabad rabbi to whom he first came out.
Israel is a 58-year-old New Yorker who decided he couldn't be gay and Orthodox, and turned his back on his religion, though not before his family forced him into electroshock therapy to try to cure him. Now a tour guide in the Haredi neighborhoods of New York, the film follows him as he gives a tour, psychoanalyzes himself and decides, on the 25th anniversary of being with his life partner, to call his 98-year-old father, a rabbi, whom he has not seen in over twenty years.
Michelle is another New Yorker, in her forties, who believed she was the only Hasidic lesbian in the world and as a consequence allowed herself to be pressured into marriage. However, she got divorced and was subsequently ostracized by her family and community when they discovered she was homosexual. The film shows her visiting her old neighborhood and an Orthodox fair.
Rabbi Steven Greenberg, one of the founding members of the Jerusalem Open House, a gay rights organization in Israel which provides support to gay Orthodox Jews and their families, who is sometimes called "the world’s first openly gay Orthodox rabbi", discusses parents' reactions to their children coming out, as well as traditional interpretations of the prohibitions on homosexual acts in the Torah.
"Malka" and "Leah" are two observant Orthodox lesbians who have been together for ten years, which has destroyed Malka's relationship with her family. They speak frankly about their lives in the film and discuss their fears that they may not end up in heaventogether. They are shown preparing for Shabbat, and Leah gives advice to a married Hasidic lesbian who is terrified her husband will find out and take away her children.
2002 / 84 minutes − http://filmsthatchangetheworld.vswebdev.com/The-Films/Trembling-Before-G-d