Hedva and the cinema
A distributer of films related to Jewish culture
Her phone rings constantly. From all parts of the world they call Hedva Goldschmidt to get the best Jewish films for a competition at a festival or on television programming. She is a major distributor of films related to Jewish religion and culture and maintains relationships with the most diverse people, in Countries from China to the United States. It is unusual in her environment, but in her work she tries to maintain international attention on themes related to spirituality and religion; a “mission” for which she has to overcome many obstacles. She presents films with very intense themes and may find herself in front of a wall of prejudice and closed doors, but she always manages to open them with a smile.
Hedva is an Orthodox Jew, living in Jerusalem, and married to Gilli, a rabbi. Together they have five children. When she travels, she always has to find a way to follow all the rules and regulations, which is not easy in the film world.
She had started her work at the Orthodox Jewish film school, Male’ Film School, and then founded her own company, Go2 Films. Even in the early years, she realized that she didn’t have to lock herself in her own enclosure, and that the “outgoing” call was there for her. In 2001, a difficult year for inter-religious dialogue, she brought her first films on the ultra-Orthodox to the Jerusalem Cinematheque, and from there to various festivals around the world, creating bridges of dialogue with Muslim artists. She had put herself at risk by overcoming the limits imposed by the laws of the various Countries.
As the years went by, she became more and more committed to dialogue and the path to peace, becoming an activist. In 2009 she selected five women leaders in Israel to create Women of Faith for Peace, and with them she broke down the walls of division, inspiring concrete projects such as the multicultural social center in Lod with Muslim, Jewish, Christian and Bedouin women. And she began to frequent the different communities creating a climate of trust, fundamental for peace.
Her spiritual dimension is very deep and she is always in a positive tension in the dialogue with her rabbi husband. Together they decided to open their home to people of other religions, especially Christians, to experience the richness of the Shabbat dinner. Dozens of people from various parts of the world have sat at their table, participated in prayers and exchanged biblical reflections. After opening their homes, they went a step further, opening up avenues in their community, and Christian friends were invited to the synagogue for important prayer times.
She talks about God with a smile: “In faith, what’s important to me is personal contact with God: waking up in the morning and learning to give thanks for all the wonderful little and big things, blessing life, and trying to add a little good to the world”.
In this way Hedva experiences the dimension of inter-religious dialogue and between religion and culture on many levels. She continues to bring deeply spiritual films to the world and often meets in Jerusalem with her friends, who have become sisters, Christian, Druze, Muslim, Haredi, Bedouin. It is the everyday dialogue, which is the one that leads to change. Like when she was in Italy with the group of women, while a conflict broke out in her neighborhood. A 13-year-old boy from her Orthodox Jewish community had been stabbed by another 14-year-old Muslim boy, who was in turn shot by police. As news reached her and the tension grew by the minute, Hedva stopped to pray, then called Faten, a female Muslim leader. They had their picture taken together with a message of peace. The shot went viral on social media and thousands of women were able to restore calm in their families and communities.
On another occasion, an Italian Christian friend of hers called her because her daughter had to undergo major surgery. Hedva left her children with the community and within a day organized the trip to Italy. She took care of her friend’s house and her youngest daughter. The evening before the surgery, they went to the sanctuary of Pietralba, near Bolzano. Outside the church, they prayed the psalms together with the priest and she sang for healing.
Hedva is the woman of concrete, pragmatic dialogue: “Dialogue for me is listening to all the people and opinions that are so different from mine, even when those opinions bother me. I have to listen with respect and understanding, trying to understand that everyone has a different world of values. From this point I can discuss, counter, suggest... But first of all I have to know how to listen, and only then can I speak”.
She says, “I believe in the good in all people, and that every day we can make a difference, even in the small things. Being kind and smiling to others, and to the world”.
by Lia Beltrami
Director and writer