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July 11, 2014

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PAGE 12A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JULY 11, 2014 a movie carries Q Osnat Bukofzer Actor Navid Negahban portraying gitzchak, the son of an Iranian-Israeli turkey farmer, in the forthcoming Farsi-language film "Baba Joan." By Ben Sales Set in an Israeli agricultural village settled by Iranian im- migrants, the film tells the story of Yitzchak, a Persian Israeli who, likehis-father, tends a turkey farm in a rural village in the Negev Desert. Yitzchak's brother, Daryush, has moved to the United States to live a freer life. Their father, Baba Joon, wants to maintain the family's traditional values while Yitzchak's son, Moti, struggles with his family's religious and patriarchal limitations. "L hope that people start putting their differences aside and accepting their differ- ences," said Navid Negahban, the Iranian-born American actor who portrays Yitzchak. "I think the film will help. It's opening" a window into a life that most people are unaware Of." AYANOT, Israel (JTA) --An Iranian-Israeli director and a group of Iranian-born actors are making a movie in Farsi, the language of Iran. "Baba Joon," a story of fa- milial conflict between three generations of Iranian Jewish men set to hit theaters next year, is the first Farsi movie ever to be made in Israel. Director Yuval Delshad said he l~rioritized authentic- ity in casting "Baba Joon," choosing actors whose per- sonal stories mirror those of their characters. David Diaan, who plays Daryush, is an Iranian-born Jew who lives in Los Angeles. Faraj Aliasi, 73, who plays Baba Joon, is a Persian Israeli who, like his character, has lived much of his life in a small Israeli agricultural village. Asher Avrahami, the 13-year-old who plays Moti, is from the same village, the largely Persian town of Zerahia in southern Israel. "I looked for actors that would be Iranian and would share something in the characters I created," said Delshad, who also wrote the film. "The world they come from is the world of the story." Diaan and Negahban, who also portrays Abu Nazir in the acclaimed Showtime series "Homeland," worked together on "The Stoning of Soraya M.," a 2008 film about a woman stoned to death over allegations of infidelity that turned out to be false. Both actors expressed hope that the Iran-Israel conflict would cool down and era- phasized the importance of intercultural reconciliation. "Israel, Iran, Arabs and Jews, Sunni and Shiite [say,] 'We don't get along, let's fight,'" Diaan said. "Today it's a different time. It's a different age. I'm a good person, you're a good person, let!s party." No one involved with the production admitted to be- ing concerned that tensions between Israel and Iran might affect the movie. Producer David Silber, who worked on the Oscar-nominated 2007 film "Beaufort," says the film is meant for a wide audience and could even reach Iranian viewers illegally should the regime ban it. "Like a Greek myth, it's rel- evant to every culture," Silber said. "Maybe there will be a way for [Iranians] to see it. The second it gets to a streaming site they'll see it, unless the site is blocked." Despite being of different religions, generations and na= tionalities, the actors said they connected with each other over their common Iranian heritage. When Delshad put on a cassette of an Iranian folk song during filming, actors said several members of the cast began crying. "There is a deep connection thatyou don't lose," Negahban said. "It's not that you're still connected 100 percer t to where you came from, but you have the place you came from in your heart." Negahban and Diaan ap- pear alongside Aliasi and Avrahami, neither of whom had acted .before joining "Baba Joon." Delshad said neither had trouble on the set because the film is set in a village meant to mirror Zerahia. Much of the movie is now being filmed at Ayanot, a youth village a half-hour north of Zerahia. It's a taw- dry place, with faded brown stucco buildings and patchy grass. Aiiasi said the film gets the details of life in Zerahia "exactly" right. " For the actors, many of whom left Iran at a young age, working on the film has been an opportunity to reconnect to their homeland and portray Iranian culture in a warm, if complex, light. "I grew up in America, but when I do something in Farsi it's so natural and so second nature to me," Diaan said. "I lived in Iran until I was 16. We still keep the language alive. It's still my first language." By Cnaan Liphshiz French Jewry's strong mo- bilization on his behalf 25 PARIS (JTA) -- On their years ago symbolizes both 40th wedding anniversary, what Israel stands to gain and Avital and Natan Sharansky what Europe stands to lose as went sightseeing in the City of Lights. But the Sharanskys didn't follow the trail of countless " couples who come here to kiss at the Eiffel Tower or slip so-called love locks on bridges over the River Seine. Theirs was an itinerary that demonstrated a different kind of commitment. "Avital is taking me to see all the places where she or- ganized protest rallies for my release," Natan Sharansky, the chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, told JTA in an interview Thursday at h~s orga- nization's Paris headquarters. There were about a dozen such places. To Sharansky, French immigration to Israel reaches record levels. Home to Europe's larg- est Jewish population of 500,000, France surpassed the United States lastyear to become the world's second- largest source of Jewish immigration to Israel, with 3,263 emigrants making ali- yah -- second only to Russia. This year, 5,000 French Je v- ish immigrants are expected in Israel, well over double the 1,917 that made the move in 2012. Such figures should be mu- sic to the ears of Sharansky, 67, a former Israeli Cabinet minister who spent nine years in a Soviet prison for his at- tempts to immigrate to Israel and has led the JewishAgency -- the organization principally responsible for facilitating global aliyah -- for four. Yet his happiness over his organization's success is mixed with sadness over the vulner- ability it reflects in a robust community that many fear is nearing extinction. Some, including Sharansky, believe Frenchaliyah heralds the end of Jewish life in Europe. "Something historic is happening," Sharansky said. "It may be the beginning of the end of European Jewry." It is an observation that brings no joy to Sharansky, himself a Europe-born math- ematician and chess prodigy who has revolutionized the Jewish Agency by expand- ing its traditional focus on aliyah to include strengthen- Jewish Museum of Florida-FlU CURRENT EXHIBITIONS CI'NEMA JUDAICA: The War Years 1939-1949 On view through August 24, 2014 GROWERS, GROCERS, & GEFILTE FISH: A Gastronomic Look at Florida.Jews & Food On view through October 5, 2014 301 Washington Avenue ~1 Miami Beach, FL 33139 Jewish ................................... Museum* ~ ~,, ,;~,:. MIAMIBEACH - of Florida Open Tuesday-Sunday lOam - 5pr'n :t/://~ : withthisad : : HFJ~ The Museum is supported by inctiv~d~ai con?ributions, foundations, memberships and gran~s from the State of Florida, Department of State. Division of CultuP~l Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts ant/Culture, tile M~ami-Dac/e County Tbudst Oeve~opraent Council, the Miarni-Dade Count/Depsrtrnent of C~lltural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Councii, the M]am]-D~de Co~nW Mayor and Board of County Cornraissioners and tl~e City of Miami Beach, Cultural Affairs Program. Cultural Arts Council. 4 ing Diaspora Jewish identity -- a move he said was merely "contextualizing" aliyah but which critics fearedwould de- emphasize it, "I think it's a tragedy for Europe," he said. "What is happening in France, the strongest of Europe's Jewish communities, reflects pro- cesses taking place elsewhere in Europe. I keep asking people if Jews have a future in Europe." Sharansky was cheerful in his encounters with soon-to- be Israelis like Oury Choucha- na, a 36-year-old lawyerwho is preparing to leave next week to study Hebrew at Ulpan Etzion in Jerusalem -- the same Hebrew immersion pro- gram where Avital Sharansky studied 40 years ago. "It may interest you to hear that Etzion is a serious, serious shidduch scene," said Sharansky, using the Hebrew term for a marriage match. The mixed blessings of French aliyah were appar- ent at a sendoff ceremo- ny Wednesday for several hundred emigrants at the Synagogue de Tournelles. The ceremony took place a few days after the Le Monde newspaper published an emotional plea against aliyah by the well- known Jewish author and activist Marek Halter. "Will you cede to those seeking our disappearance? Will you leave this home of ours to jihadists and the National Front?" he wrote, referencing the rising far- right party that many French Jews believe has anti-Semitic undertones. Halter's piece was a rare call to arms in a community whose leaders are encourag- ing French Jews to leave. At the sendoff, Richard Prasqui- er, a former head of the CRIF French Jewish umbrella group and current president of the Jewish National Fund branch in France, shared his "intense Y A|ain Azria Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky, left, with the organization's head of French operations, Ariel Kandel, at a Paris synagogue, July 2, 2014. pride" in his daughter's suc- cessful aliyah and encouraged the new immigrants to "take away with you our culture and plant it in Israel." Joel Mergui, the president of the French Consistoire, the community organ responsible for religious services, spoke at the sendoff of his own "mix of joy and pain" at the fact that three of his four children live 2,000 miles away from him in Israel. French Jewry is "unique in. how leaders don't perceive ali.yah as a threat that could weaken their communities, but as the first installment in building that community's new future in Israel," Sharan- sky told JTA. This is "remarkable," he added, "and could never come from federation heads in the United States, where com- munity leaders are committed to ensuring a Jewish future in America." At the sendoff ceremony, Lionel Berros, a religious Jew who will immigrate in two weeks, was feeling a more personal version of the mix of melancholy and joy Sharansky described. "When I was a child, I could leave home wearing my kippah/' said Berros, who is moving with his wife and daughter to Netanya. "Now I wear a baseball cap and my daughter leaves home only to go to school. I don't want her to grow up like that: So I am sad to leave, but also happy." Like many French Jewish parents, B erros is never at ease when his daughter is at school -- not since the 2012 murder of a rabbi and three children by a Muslim extremist at a Jewish school in Toulouse. The attack was one of 614 anti-Semitic incidents documented that" year by the community's S PCJ security unit. Of those attacks, 14 percent happenedwithin 10 days of the Toulouse murders. Sensitive to this sentiment, community leaders have made no secret of their concern for the