This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001

16May/14

NEXT YEAR JERUSALEM

NEXT YEAR JERUSALEM

A group of octogenarians and nonagenarians travels to the Holy Land in NEXT YEAR JERUSALEM

NEXT YEAR JERUSALEM (David Gaynes, 2014)
Quad Cinema
34 West 13th St. between Fifth & Sixth Aves.
Opens Friday, May 16
212-255-2243
www.quadcinema.com
www.nextyearjerusalemmovie.com

During Yom Kippur and the Passover seder, Jews around the world proclaim that “next year, may we be in Jerusalem.” In David Gaynes’s charming documentary, Next Year Jerusalem, this dream comes true for eight men and women at the Jewish Home for the Elderly in Fairfield, Connecticut. In 2011, JHE president and CEO Andrew Banoff and Rabbi Stephen Shulman arranged for eight of their residents to make a once-in-a-lifetime ten-day trip to Israel; what made this journey different, and very special, is that the group had an average age of ninety-one, ranging from Sandy Levin, eighty-two, to Bill Wein, ninety-seven. With all their infirmities and medications, canes and wheelchairs, they prepare for a great adventure, with Gaynes behind the camera himself as they share stories about their lives, contemplate their deaths, and express their sheer joy as their anticipation grows. Shortly before they leave, Rabbi Shulman has to explain that they have to be ready not only for someone to not be able to make it to Israel but, more critical, one of them not being able to come home, given their ages and health situations. But that isn’t going to stop any of them, especially not ninety-three-year-old Selma Rosenblatt, who isn’t about to let her twisted body get in the way. Meanwhile, eighty-seven-year-old Regine Arouette, who isn’t Jewish, looks forward to visiting several Christian landmarks. (The others on the trip are Helen Downs, ninety-one; Leslie Novis, ninety; Harry Shell, ninety-two; and Bill’s wife, Juna Wein, eighty-nine.) When they all head off to Israel, accompanied by such lovingly involved caretakers as Donnette Banton, thirty-six-year-old Gaynes (Saving Hubble, Keeper of the Kohn) keeps his camera focused on the senior citizens as they visit historic sites, placing their fabulous experience front and center. Next Year Jerusalem is a charming and delightful celebration of life at the end of life, a spirit-lifting film that shows that you’re never too old to say no. “Where are the Israels for which we personally have yet to travel?” Gaynes, who also served as editor and producer, asks in his director’s statement. Next Year Jerusalem opens May 16 at the Quad, with all weekend screenings followed by a Q&A with Gaynes.

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