Largely because of the short distance in between, the liberal Jewish communities of Philadelphia and New York are intertwined. I personally know some of the people glimpsed in scenes of this documentary film by Ilana Trachtman. And although I had never met her before last night (when she answered questions after a screening), I have a tiny connection with Ms. Trachtman. I published an article by her in ISRAEL HORIZONS (about her somewhat confrontational meeting with Israel’s late president, Ezer Weizman), during my first stint as editor of IH for Americans for Progressive Israel from 1991 to ’95.
I also have a connection with Mordechai Liebling, the father of Lior, the winsome child with Down Syndrome for whom the film is named (at one point, Lior charmingly calls it “Up Syndrome”). Rabbi Liebling, who has worked in a variety of posts for Reconstructionist Judaism and social justice, wrote “Divestment From Israel: Why It Is Counterproductive as a Strategy for Peace” in the Autumn 2005 issue of ISRAEL HORIZONS.
“Praying With Lior” is an upbeat and touching story well worth seeing. If you’re in or near New York, you’d better hurry to catch it at the Cinema Village.