ASERET Y'MEI T'SHUVAH 2020-5781 A4

THE TREE OF LIFE A Film by Sarah West Celebrating Hope, Community and the Earth which is our only Home

A short portrait film about Rabbi Elli Tikvah Sarah & the BHPS community made in 2015

At the beginning of 2015, an undergraduate called Sam Gavin asked me if he could make a film about me, focusing on my LGBTQ experience, as part of his film studies degree. Sam had grown up at Brighton and Hove Progressive Synagogue, celebrating his bar mitzvah and graduating from the Kabbalat Torah class, and I had known him since he was a small child. I agreed, and we set a date for filming.

One spring morning a group of film students arrived at my home just outside Seaford, each one using the project to express their particular skills – as director, sound engineer, etc. Sam had the role of producer. In the afternoon, we travelled to Brighton and Hove to film at the synagogue, which was in the process of rebuilding at the time.

Sam sent me the film, entitled, Tikvah, when it was completed, and I congratulated him and his colleagues on doing a fantastic job.

I was reminded of the film a couple of months ago, when someone, who had seen it on YouTube tweeted about it, and so I watched it again. Tikvah makes a powerful statement about the LGBTQ experience and values that have infused my rabbinate, and just as important, about what a wonderful inclusive congregation Brighton and Hove Progressive Synagogue has become: a beacon of Liberal Judaism on the south coast.