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HALF THE KINGDOM

Canada, 1989 (MIFF 1990, Documentaries)

Director: Francine E. Zuckerman, Roushell N. Goldstein

"Is being Jewish and a feminist mutually exclusive?" asks Francine Zuckerman, co-director of this thought-provoking and engrossing enquiry into the role of women in the patriarchal traditions of Judaism.

The film takes its title from The Scroll Of Esther, one of the rare books in the Hebrew Scriptures to bear a woman's name. It symbolises the quest of contemporary women for equality, and addresses a basic issue faced by women in most mainstream religions.

In Half The Kingdom, seven highly articulate Jewish feminists discuss the challenge as they attempt to incorporate a feminist perspective into Judaism. They include Shulamit Aloni, a then-member of the Israeli parliament, Esther Broner, a New York novelist and writer, and Alice Shalvi, professor of English literature at the Hebrew University and principal of a religious experimental girls' school.

"Half The Kingdom is about choices," says Zuckerman. "It's about diversity. Its Jewish feminists come from opposite polarities - one an atheist alienated from the Jewish community, another a religious scholar and community activist - and are brought together on film. Half The Kingdom is about pluralism and human rights. And it's about forging new paths."
- (PKa)

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