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video coverWe just saw a rather amazing, transgressive movie called "Mendy." Released in 2003, it is about a young man who leaves the Satmar community and must figure out who he is. He must also figure out how to survive in a world where he has no skills—no knowledge of the world outside of studying in the yeshiva—no geography, no math, nothing. The movie touches on the usual religious transgressions (including a sexual scene involving t'fillin), but it is in the thoughtfulness with which the main character makes the transition from his familiar, beloved former life of prayer and devotion to G-d that the movie's impact is greatest.

Having known several people who have left ultra-orthodox communities over the years, the film plays true. It is far more idealized than real life, but in presenting these philosophical monologues, and in playing off idealized persons, the movie reveals truth in its mix of black and white, and reveals the humanity in all of its characters, even those who are less sympathetic. And despite the idealization, I realized that I knew more than a few people of whom the movie's characters reminded me.

Notable, as well, is the music of Jeremiah Lockwood's Sway Machinery. From the opening electrified punkish klezmer, to the very punk cantorial music in the live concert by Sway Machinery presented as one of the extras, Lockwood channels a different edge Jewish music from the usual. The band has undergone some significant changes in the last year, and I find myself again eager to hear and see where those changes take them today.