Exploring Jerusalem through Two Short Films

Exploring Jerusalem through Two Short Films

Against the backdrop of rising tensions in Jerusalem, we’ve put together educator guides to two short Israeli movies – Dear God and Nur.

Each film presents a different perspective on Jerusalem and inspires us to think about the city in new ways.

You can stream both short films on Izzy.

Dear God

Theme: Faith and Humanity

Length: 13 minutes

Synopsis:

This short film is told through the eyes of Aaron, a simple Wailing Wall guard who follows a mysterious woman’s notes in the holy stones of Jerusalem.

Why you should watch it:

More so than any other site, the Kotel is the most visited destination by tourists to Israel.

In this heartwarming short film, Aaron (played by Lior Ashkenzi) cleans up the messages that people put into the historic Wailing Wall. One day, after an intriguing woman leaves a note, Aaron decides to fulfill her deepest wish.

Questions:

  1. Have you ever left a note at the Kotel? Does one need to believe in God to partake in this ritual?
  2. What was your reaction to the mixture of serious and quirky notes the film imagines have been placed in the Kotel?
  3. Watch this scene from Bruce Almighty where God decides to answer “yes to all” prayers. What would happen if every wish written in the Kotel came true?
  4. How do you feel about the actions taken by Aaron to make some of the prayers placed in the Kotel become reality?
  5. The final scene depicts a Gneiza where all the notes are buried. Why do you think Jews assign to notes in the Kotel the same holy status as sifrei torah and other holy writings?

Nur

Theme: Palestinian life in East Jerusalem

Length: 14 minutes

Synopsis:

Life in a refugee camp is complicated for Nur, who dreams of studying art in West Jerusalem. Nur’s hopes of attending an interview at the prestigious Bezalel Art Academy are threatened by her disapproving father and her brother’s incarceration in an Israeli jail.

Why you should watch it: 

For many diaspora Jews, when we think about Jerusalem, the Kotel, Machane Yehuda or the light rail on Rehov Jaffo may be the first images that come to mind. The neighborhoods of Silwan, Jabel Mukaber or the slums of the Shuafat refugee camp rarely feature in the stories we tell of Israel’s capital, but are no less part of the city than Rehavia or Katamon. This short film offers a unique glimpse into what life is like on the eastern side of the city, grappling with the tensions that many Palestinians face in how to engage with those who live on the western side of the city.

Questions:

  1. Between Nur, her father, and her mother, with which character do you most empathize?
  2. Many Palestinians in East Jerusalem are sometimes wary of studying in West Jerusalem due to fears that this will normalize the occupation. On the other hand, the number of Palestinian students at Hebrew University has only been growing in recent years. What do you feel this film wants to say about this phenomenon?
  3. In this short film, we see an artist drawing a mural with eyes. This is based on an actual art project called “I Witness Silwan.”Jawad Siyam, Madaa Creative Center Director responsible for the project in East Jerusalem explains,  “The staring eyes say to people that we see them and they should see us too…we want to say that we are here — we love our land and our home.” How can Jerusalem be more of a home to all its residents and citizens?
  4. The ending of the film is inconclusive. Do you think Nur will end up studying at the Bezalel Art Academy in West Jerusalem?

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