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PostPosted: Sat Jul 30, 2022 12:44 pm 
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PATRICE O'NEILL: REPAIRING THE WORLD: STORIES FROM THE TREE OF LIFE (2022) - SAN FRANCISCO JEWISH FILM FESTIVAL

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DEMONSTRATION SHOWN IN REPAIRING THE WORLD

The 2018 Pittsburgh anti-Semitic massacre: a film about community response

Pittsburgh is "small," this film says; and the city's solidarity was great after the October 27, 2018 massacre of 11 Jewish worshippers (including a 97-year-old woman) at the Tree of Life Synagogue, the worst anti-Semitic attack in US history. There was an immediate outpouring of support across communities. It may have helped that the Squirrel Hill neighborhood where this happened is a particularly friendly one. It is also one with a strong Jewish element and the city is very segregated and yet "there is a level of unity and solidarity here that there isn't in other cities", says Wasi Mohamed, then Islamic Center director, who raised close to $1/4 million to help victims. This is an energetic and dedicated documentary that represents three years of work by director Patrice O'Neill, who has previously focused on attacks of this kind in her films. Here especially there has been a coming together. The ongoing collective action chronicled in O'Neill's film is a dramatic, wide and touching interpretation of the Jewish concept of "tikkun olam," repairing the world.

The accused (unnamed here, who pleaded not guilty and is still awaiting trial) is a white supremacist. This movement has grown greatly in recent years; clearly, Donald Trump tacitly supported it (and still does). Hence the new connection of the Black community with the Jewish community, also the Muslim community - great multi-ethnic, multi-religion unity developed.

But: there are white suprematists in Pittsburgh, and their threats nation-wide have abounded. Always they increase after a major incident like the Tree of Life massacre. Furthermore, a wide pro-gun coalition exists throughout the country. New Pittsburgh restrictions on the use of assault weapons in the wake of the Tree of Life attack were later struck down by the court as violating Pennsylvania gun laws.

Brad Orsini, director of security for the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh; appears here as one who, through the 2018 event, came to a greater understanding of what it would be like to be a member of a minority that is an object of hate crimes.

The Poway synagogue shooting of April 27, 2019 near San Diego, California, which saw one killed and three injured, again caused a gathering of Pittsburgh community figures covered in this film. Likewise August 3, 2019, when a gunman killed 23 in a Walmart in El Paso, Texas; the shooter is one who believes there is a Hispanic invasion in Texas. as local Hispanic hate crime representative explains. This upsurge of racist and anti-Semitic violence in the US following the Tree of Life attack has brought Pittsburghers continually closer together, as the film shows. Efforts show in the film in meet-ups across sectarian lines at the community level and meetings and classes in high schools. Three years after the 2018 attack, Pittsburgh reached out to the world, hosting the Inaugural Eradicate Hate Global Summit, an international conference on hate.

A conventional film in form, this is nonetheless an impressive enough one for its coverage of trauma and community response. O'Neill has made a real effort to represent all elements of the community. Patrice O'Neill is a leader of Not in Our Town, a movement to build hate-free communities across the country.

Repairing the World: Stories from the Tree of Life, 90 mins., debuted at the Pittsburgh JFilm Festival on May 5, 2022 and won the best documentary audience award at the festival. It was screened for this review as part of the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, July 15-August 7, 2022. West Coast Premiere.


Schedule
Sunday July 31, 2022
2:00 p.m.
Albany Twin


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IN FRONT OF THE TREE OF LIFE SYNOGOGUE IN REPAIRING THE WORLD

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┬ęChris Knipp. Blog: http://chrisknipp.blogspot.com/.


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