Press

NPR11/12/13 – “Amy Beth Oppenheimer of Faces of Israel, Guest” on NPR’s Jim Engster Show.  (Listen to the radio interview here.)  The Jim Engster Show debuted on WRKF in March 2004 and is heard weekdays at 9 am.  Newsmakers interact with “the most enlightened audience in radio” to provide a gumbo of information and insight about life in Louisiana.  Topics are as diverse as the guests, with Baton Rouge as the backdrop.

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6/1/13 – “Sh’ma: A Journal of Jewish Ideas: Israel Issue, June 2013“.  (View a PDF of the article on Faces of Israel)  – “This symbiotic relationship, this pull and counter-pull of heaven and earth, is established in the very first line of the Torah. In one breath, God creates shamayim (the heavens) and its corresponding sense of holiness, ‘spirituality’, as well as aretz (earth) and its application of holiness, ‘justice’.”

2/22/13 – “Faces of Amy” (Read on Faces of Israel) -“I wanted to have a meaningful way to gather Jews of different streams in the same room for meaningful conversations about Israel, rather than focusing on controversy and conflict or eating falafel,” she said. “Different types of congregations sometimes co-sponsor my presentation and come together, often for the first time outside of an occasion like a communal Purim party.”

2/11/13 – “New Grants Recognize Young Jewish Innovators” (Read on Faces of Israel) – “Two and a half years ago, Amy Beth Oppenheimer quit her consulting job in New York, sold her belongings and bought an RV. She has been crisscrossing the United States ever since, presenting an interactive program that she created called Faces of Israel at synagogues, Jewish Community Centers, Hillels and summer camps − all without any institutional backing. ‘I’m an independent educator, so I’ve been limited in terms of what communities I can bring the program to,’ she said in a phone interview from her current home base in Austin, Texas. ‘While I’m all about passion, passion doesn’t pay the bills.'”

2/5/13 – “Jewish Community Projects Awarded Natan Grants” (Read on Faces of Israel) – “The Natan Fund provides early-stage funding for creative approaches to some of the key challenges facing the Jewish people and the State of Israel today. ROI Community connects dynamic, creative Jews and gives them the tools, support and space to turn their ideas into innovative work that will change the face of Jewish life. The grants will support Amy Beth Oppenheimer’s “Faces of Israel” program, which – using an educational film – focuses on questions of Jewish identity, religious pluralism and civil liberties.”

2/4/13 – “First Natan Grants for ROI Entrepreneurs Announced” (Read Here) – “The Natan Fund and ROI Community have announced the recipients of the inaugural “Natan Grants for ROI Entrepreneurs,” a new grantmaking partnership dedicated to supporting ROI Community members with innovative ideas for diversifying Jewish life in communities around the world.  Amy Beth Oppenheimer received the grant to bring the highly interactive Faces of Israel program, which includes presentation, discussion and film-viewing, into remote communities across the U.S.”

3/22/12 – “Faces of Israel Helps Provide A Deeper Understanding Of Israel” (View as PDF) – “Many Israel programs are either based on politics and foreign policy or very light … falafel,” said Amy Beth Oppenheimer, the film maker who created the documentary “Faces of Israel: A Discussion About Marriage, State and Religion in the Jewish Homeland.” “Faces of Israel,” she said, “explores everything in between.”

3/15/12 – “Beyond falafel: Documentary filmmaker explores the Faces of Israel” (View as PDF) – “Oppenheimer keeps “Faces of Israel” relevant through regular trips to Israel. She was last there a year ago, leading a Birthright trip for Israel Outdoors. At that time, the conversion bill and its impact were at the forefront of Israeli public debate, leading to marriage campaigns to legalize civil unions that are ongoing.”

12/24/11 – Interview on Canadian Radio-Centreville – Listen Here

10/15/11 – “Local Teens Explore Faces Of Israel” (View as PDF) – “Shaarie Torah Education Director Dorice Horenstein spent time with both student groups. She reported that the conversations were very lively. “I think this was the beginning of months of conversation,” she said. Horenstein was as impressed by the process as by the content of the conversations.”

7/23/11 – “Le Mood Attracts a Rainbow of Montreal Jewish Life” (View as PDF) – “Filmmaker Amy Beth Oppenheimer Skyped in from Arizona, engaging audiences with an interactive discussion before screening her film Faces of Israel: Religious Pluralism, the Chief Rabbinate and Civil Liberties in Israel Today, on the complex intersection of religion and politics in the Jewish state.”

5/18/11 – “Film Explores Religion In Israel” – “Over 120 people attended the Delaware Valley premiere screening of Faces of Israel at the Katz JCC. The program included a guest appearance by the film’s director, Amy Beth Oppenheimer.”

5/6/11 – “Filmmaker From Leonia Tackles Israeli Issues” (View as PDF) -“When Amy Beth Oppenheimer was growing up in Leonia, she couldn’t wait to learn more about Israel firsthand. “I loved our community, but there was a little something lacking in the Israel education we received,” she told The Jewish Standard.”

5/3/11 – “Community To Celebrate Israel’s Independence Together” (View as PDF) – “According to Daniel Sonnenschein, JCC Rockland’s shaliach, or Israel emissary, the film is “a great vehicle to creating a better understanding of the complex diversity of Israeli society that makes it so unique and fascinating” and therefore quite fitting for a day of celebrating Yom Ha’atzmaut and Israel’s rich diversity.”

2/15/11 – “A Look At Faces Of Israel” (View as PDF) – “Students who have seen the film multiple times say Faces of Israel never gets boring because it is different every time. Each audience brings diverse viewpoints and come from various backgrounds. And Oppenheimer does not just screen the film; she engages her audience with questions and discussion topics designed to make viewing it an entirely interactive experience.”

2/15/11 – “It’s Complicatedl” (View as PDF) – “The resulting film, Faces of Israel, has brought stateside attention to the dilemmas and issues surrounding marriage in Israel, where democratic ideals familiar to the American public often clash with the Jewish State’s hard-line Orthodox authorities.”

12/13/10 – “Student Project Leads To Nationwide Tour” (View as PDF) – “Amy Beth Oppenheimer recently visited Hillel at Emory for the Atlanta debut of her extremely successful documentary, Faces of Israel, which broaches the topic of separation of state and synagogue in the young nation with varied and insightful interviews. More than 100 attended the viewing and subsequent discussion…”

11/18 – “Meet The Faces Of Israel” (View as PDF) – “Amy’s presentation was extremely informative and relatable. There is a continuous back-and-forth between Israel’s progressive society and religious traditions that makes the place so dynamic and thought-provoking…I thought this was a unique event. To hear a lecture about Israel is one thing. To show a film is another. But to have the director come, to share her insights, to lead an interactive conversation really deepened my understanding of the film.”

4/27 – “Facing Israel’s Many Faces” (View as PDF) – “As Israel celebrated its 62nd birthday, more than 100 men and women from several South Shore communities assembled at the Oceanside JCC to watch a documentary, “Faces of Israel” and participate in a discussion about the complexities of Israel today, where the distinction between synagogue and state is virtually nonexistent.”

4/25 – “Topics on Tap: Pluralism in Israel an eye-opener” (View as PDF) – “Michael walked us through segments of the acclaimed DVD documentary “Faces of Israel”, a mosaic of people representing various levels of observance and their take on the matter. Our participants followed up with comments of their own…”

4/13 – “Faces of Israel Film Program” (View as PDF) – “Faces of Israel has no political agenda. Rather, it serves as an educational tool that will foster dialogue and conversation about the important questions that face the Jewish people and the State of Israel today.”

3/1 – Unholy Matrimony (View as PDF) – By Amy Beth Oppenheimer, “The civil unions debatemore than many otherscuts to the heart of the tension in Israel between preserving the state’s Jewish foundations and its democratic ones, and it has led to many articles and speeches, all of which touch on the central questions of who is a Jew, who gets to decide and why it matters—if at all…”

3/1 – Filming Israeli Marriage (View as PDF) – “When I showed the film in Silicon Valley, where there are a lot of secular Israelis, they were all saying that the film wasn’t secular enough. In YU, people asked why no one in the movies suggested reinstating the Sanhedrin.”

1/28 – Israeli Film Festival Selections to be Shown in Teaneck (View as PDF) – “UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey’s Israel Programs Center has announced that its 2010 Israel Culture and Film Festival… at Congregation Rinat Israel, 389 West Englewood Ave., is “Faces of Israel: A Discussion about Marriage, State, and Religion in the Jewish Homeland…”

1/24 – Midreshet Lindenbaum Alumni News – Amy Beth Oppenheimer – “The exciting, educational and balanced documentary is intended for a wide audience… It is intended to promote mature dialogue and bring together diverse members of the Jewish community….”

10/1 – Baltimore Jewish Times: Israel News – Faces of Israel – “In our conversations, we continuously returned to the meaning of democracy within a Jewish state. It was a tense topic, and increasingly so when compacted with the issue of love… it is during the marriage process, through interaction with the State rabbinate, that most Israelis first personally confront the issues that a Jewish democracy poses.”

September 2009 – NU Voices for Israel- Marriage in Israel – “Did you know that only Orthodox rabbis may conduct Jewish weddings in Israel? And that hundreds of Israelis travel abroad for civil marriages (which must then be recognized by Israel when they return)?…Oppenheimer calls the film a “springboard to discussion” about tensions in Israel between being a Jewish and a democratic state.”

9/1 – Hadassah Magazine – Brief Reviews: Faces of Israel “…Asks questions to a wide range of Israelis, from secular to Masorti, Reform to ultra-Orthodox: Should there be civil marriage in Israel? How does the chief rabbinate see its role? The organizations ITIM and Tzohar, which work with couples to make the traditional marriage ceremony flexible and innovative…”

8/21 – Jewish Daily Forward – “A Classroom Film That Explores the Tensions Over Marriage in Israel” (View online article as PDF) (View print article as PDF) “…Relying on commentary from a secular kibbutz resident and the Ashkenazic chief rabbi of Israel, among others, the documentary examines tensions arising from the legally mandated status of marriage as a religious affair…The documentary was shown at an educational conference in Australia in June, but most of its screenings have taken place at American synagogues and university Hillels, including those at Columbia; the University of California, Berkeley; Rutgers, and Tufts..the film also has been screened in recent months at Ramah summer camps in the Northeast and at Edu-Palooza…”

June 2009 – “PresenTense Magazine – “Through the Lens” (View as PDF) “…Faces of Israel is impressively filmed, directed, and edited by Amy Oppenheimer, a recent graduate of Johns Hopkins University who studied everything but film in college…Faces of Israel endeavors to be a neutral and educational film, and in doing so, it largely succeeds.”

5/20 – Hirhurim – “Faces of Israel: A Documentary” (View as PDF) “…There is a fascinating new documentary called Faces of Israel about the role of the official state Rabbinate in Israeli lives, particularly but not solely regarding marriages… Very interesting and thought-provoking documentary. It will hopefully change the world, but at the very least it will inform people of serious issues.”

5/15 – Emes Ve-Emunah – “Faces of Israel Review” (View as PDF) “…an educational tour de force of views by the wide spectrum of Jews spanning virtually all segments of Israeli society…I am told it has the endorsement of many religious figures including leaders of Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform movements. I can certainly understand why. Kudos to director Oppenehimer on her first major project.”

4/23 – Baltimore Jewish Times – “Film Intrigues Goucher Students” (View as PDF) “…Shira Zemel, co-president of the Goucher Hillel, agreed. “I think that everyone learned a lot. Even our dean of students emailed me after the event to let me know how much she enjoyed learning about an aspect of Israeli culture which she previously did not know about. It was great having Amy there, as she really enabled a lively discussion.”

4/22 – Riverdale Review – “Riverdale Y Hosts Opening of Documentary” (PDF Only) “…The fact that we were able to bring just about every single Jewish organization, every single synagogue and temple together for an event that has both religious and political significance – that is something I’m very happy about.”

4/10 – Leonia Life – “Jewish Marriage in Israel: Documentary Explores the Process in ‘Faces of Israel'” (PDF Only) “…I tried to be as objective as possible in order to fairly and honestly bring the viewpoints of all Jewish Israelis to the American people. However, they didn’t always make it easy. I was kicked out of a Rabbinate office during my first attempt to film in Tel Aviv….I knew that it was important to withhold judgment.”

4/8 – Jewish Daily Forward – “Nuptial Disagreements” (View as PDF) “…Getting hitched in Israel is hardly a simple proposition, as a new documentary on the subject shows. The chief rabbinate is already irrelevant in the eyes of many Israelis. Their signature of approval may be needed on formal marriage documents, but many view them as out of touch with the general population. Further, the potential legalization of civil unions would reduce the power and responsibilities of the rabbinate.”

4/3 – Fort Lee Suburbanite – “Film Looks at Being Jewish in Israel” (PDF Only) “…There are multiple definitions of ‘Jewishness’ at work in Israel. According to the Right of Return, anyone with a Jewish grandparent has the right to immigrate to Israel…however, according to the Israeli Chief Rabbinate, Jewish lineage is matrilineal in nature and therefore a Jew must have a Jewish mother.”

4/2 – Philadelphia Jewish Voice – “LimmudPhilly Successfully Unites and Delights” (View as PDF) “…Films were screened such as Faces of Israel, with interviews of leading Israeli figures across the full spectrum of Jewish life regarding matters of who is a Jew, what is a Jewish divorce…”

4/1 – Jewish Outreach Institute – “New Documentary on Marriage in Israel” (View as PDF) “…The documentary aims for balance, interviewing everyone from ordinary citizens to rabbinic leaders who put forth their point of view. The documentary is especially relevant these days because of the recent dust-up over Israeli politician Avigdor Lieberman’s call to allow civil unions…we hope many folks get a chance to see the movie and become a part of this debate.”

3/23 – Jewschool.com – “Rabbinate and State” (View as PDF) “…For those of us who live in the U.S. and who, at least in this country, are committed to the ideal of separation of church and state- it is odd to see our own religion so deeply intertwined in the workings of a Democratic Jewish state. In her first documentary, Amy Beth Oppenheimer explores the role of the Rabbinate in Israeli life….Her presentation, in the form of a series of interviews, is surprisingly evenhanded, and broad in scope.”

3/20/09 – New Jersey Jewish Standard – Faces Film Explores Israel’s Religious Variety (View as PDF) “…Many Jewish day schools provide a fantastic education, but do a less-than-stellar job of teaching controversial issues. Israel as a Jewish state is certainly one of those nuanced areas,” said Oppenheimer….What I really wanted to do was bring the voices of Israelis to the American people….One of the feelings I wanted to create was [the interviewees] engaging in a passionate dialogue. I wanted it to feel like they were discussing their ideologies and beliefs with each other.”

3/17/09 – Johns Hopkins University Alumni Update (View as PDF) “…Oscar-bound Oppenheimer? Amy Oppenheimer, A&S ’07, premieres her first film, “Faces of Israel: A Discussion about Marriage, State, and Religion in the Jewish Homeland,” March 24 in New York….”

3/10/09 – MASA Israel Online (View as PDF) “…I had never taken a film class in my life but I knew that if I really wanted to connect with people, I needed to bring the voices to them through a film,” says Amy..The interviews evolved into the seeds of the documentary…I think all opinions have a certain weight and should be respected,” says Amy.  “It was really important for me to try to be neutral and to put aside any preconceived notions that I had in order to be open to what each person had to say.”

*Click HERE for the original Faces of Israel press releases*