Don't be a Frayer!

I've recently watched James' Journey to Jerusalem on DVD and this Israeli movie hit the spot for me. Because I myself am born in this land and I have some knowledge of this language this movie was particulary interesting. I could read the subtitles and grasp some of the meaning of the hebrew words. By the second time I watched the movie I started to notice the huge shortcomings of the translation and the incapability of the English language to fully translate the hebrew words, those being far more direct and subtle then the Anglosaksan tongue.

This movie is about James, an African Christian who is sent by his village to visit Jerusalem, the most Holy city, on a pilgrimage. The movie hits you in the stomach as the immigration-office lady confronts James with his honest goals by saying: "I have heard this many times, but I know that you come here for the money. Why don't you go work somewhere else? France, Germany?" Then she mumbles in hebrew: "We have enough problems of our own".
From this act of no compassion James is thrown in prison, where he is "saved" by Shimi and his friend, the corrupt police-officer. Within ten minutes the viewer is confronted tih a change from happyhappyjoyjoy-religious boy into indentured labour. Shimi keeps James' passport and controls his freedom.

The movie gets going once James is made Salah's personal worker. Salah, shimi's father, is an impossible old man who will not leave his crummy little house. Shimi and his wife want Salah to move to an elderly house so that they can sell the land for construction. Salah likes to play seshbesh (backgammon) and he invites James for a game. James, for some divine reason, throws only double-six.
The tension in the movie builds up as James is confronted with the possibilities of money, and the control he can have over people by offering them sidejobs (without telling Shimi ofcourse). Salah has told him not to be a Frayer, like Jesus was.
"In this land life is a battle. You have to make your own life. Don't be a Frayer."

I, for one love this kind of black (or is it Jewish) humor. It is much more realistic then white (or is it Christian) humor, and therefor more confronting and thought-producing. James' postpones his visit to the Holy City, until is too late. Yet, he has faced the real challenge of God and he has been confronted with the devils of day-to-day life in Israel.

Now, you would think i have spoiled the entire movie, but I have not. You, for one, should watch it if you are interested in Israel. This will give you a much better view of Jewish life, then the endless high-budget Jewish directors of Holywood can.

Official Site

I still wonder why Director Ra'anan Alexandrowicz decided to translate the original hebrew title of the movie - James' journey to the holy land - in to Jerusalem.

Jeshu a-Frayer! ;) And here is an excellent and intelligent review of the movie


At 4:22 AM, Anonymous Lilette Ortiz said...

I never would have guessed what you said about the English translation. Well, at least, I learned not to be a frayer.


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