Padva, Gilad. “Gay Martyrs, Jewish Saints and Infatuated Yeshiva Boys in the New Israeli Religious Queer Cinema.” Journal of Modern Jewish Studies 10.3 (2011): 421-438.
Popular mainstream cinema often sensationalizes, stigmatizes, and even ridicules religions, faiths, congregations, and the religiously observant. The (mis)representation of religious communities is sometimes even more negative in films that centre on religious gay men, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people, and their presumably homophobic congregations. This article offers an initial exploration of a new kind of Israeli film at the beginning of the third millennium, defined here as the New Israeli Religious Queer Cinema. These films, mostly created by religious filmmakers who are members of sexual minorities, are intended to promote tolerance and greater acceptance of homosexuality by the Jewish Orthodox communities in Israel. This research, particularly focused on Chaim Elbaum’s acclaimed short film And Thou Shalt Love (2008) [Ve’ahavta], examines the cinematic attempts to reduce hostility towards sexual minorities among religious believers, and problematizes the portrayal of the young protagonist’s angst and this new cinema’s politics of martyrdom and victimhood. The article also analyses the creation of a sort of Jewish version of Saint Sebastian, the ancient Christian martyr who is often perceived as a gay icon, and this new cinema’s genuine attempts to explore homoerotic subtleties in Jewish tradition.