A tour of dreams and reality

A tour of dreams and reality

By Daphna Berman
Wed., March 05, 2008 Adar1 28, 5768

A new documentary film that follows American Jewish tourists in Israel and explores their complex and sometimes strained relationship with the Jewish State debuts tonight at the Jerusalem cinematheque.

"Eyes Wide Open," a 60-minute look at the story behind the tour buses that often clog the streets of the capital, interviews first-timers as well as more seasoned tourists. What emerges is a story about the inspiration, as well as some of the emotional challenges, that Israel poses to American Jewry.

The screening of the film, which already has debuted in New York, will be followed tonight by a panel discussion featuring MK Colette Avital, New Israel Fund director Eliezer Yaari, and writers Yossi Klein Halevi and Stuart Schoffman. Schoffman wrote "Eyes Wide Open."

"Israel is a real place, and it's both important and possible to have a real relationship with it," Paula Weiman-Kelman, who directed the film, said of the message behind "Eyes Wide Open." "Israel is a miracle and a dream, but at the same time, it's a real place with real people and real problems."

The documentary followed the tourists - including birthright groups, synagogue missions, an ultra-Orthodox rabbi from Brooklyn, and a volunteer who spent his time here rebuilding Palestinian homes - between December 2005 and December 2006, a period that included the Second Lebanon War.

Weiman-Kelman, who moved to Israel in 1976, has previously directed "Rights of Passage: The Spiritual Journey of Alice Shalvi." She is married to Rabbi Levi Weiman-Kelman, the rabbi of Kol Haneshama, the Reform synagogue in Jerusalem's Baka neighborhood.

"Eyes Wide Open," which will be screened at 7:30 P.M. tonight, was produced and conceived by Jonathan Lopatin.

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