A childhood friendship between two women deepens into first love, passionate and consuming. But in a north London Orthodox Jewish community, it is illicit, an abomination, against the strict codes that govern their lives. Religious and sexual identities cannot be reconciled; a painful choice must be made.
This, in essence, is the story of Disobedience, a film starring Rachel Weisz that has just had its UK release. It is based on the 2006 novel of the same name by Naomi Alderman, but is also, in essence, the true story of Emily Green*, who left an ultra-Orthodox community in 2012 with her five children after years of conflict and guilt. She now supports others who are considering a new life outside the insular world into which they were born.
Disobedience is a “rare opportunity to see a movie about British Jewry”, said Raymond Simonson of the Jewish cultural centre JW3, which held a screening and panel discussion last Thursday.
“Normally Jews on the small or big screen are two-dimensional; in this film, there is a complex, three-dimensional set of characters. But that doesn’t mean people will embrace the movie. I have no doubt it will divide Jewish audiences.”
Green grew up in a Hasidic community – one of the strictest in Orthodox Judaism – and knew from an early age that she was expected to marry within her faith and have children.
At school, though, she became close friends with another girl. “I think I was falling in love with her, but I didn’t know it,” she said. “It was confusing and overwhelming. I’d never even heard or read the words ‘gay’ or ‘lesbian’. I had no idea it was possible to love someone of the same sex. I didn’t understand what was happening, but knew we had to keep it hidden.” Read more via Guardian