A true story about a Catholic priest whose world is suddenly turned completely upside down at his mother’s deathbed.
BY: Peggy Bowes
When I asked Ronit why a Jewish audience would be drawn to a film about a Catholic priest who wants to live in Israel, she goes straight to the obvious detail I had overlooked.
“It’s not just a Catholic priest who found out he was Jewish. His story is from the Holocaust. The reason he became a priest is that his mother was being sent to her death and the only way she could save him was by giving him over to a Catholic family to keep him alive. His whole confusion, his whole ordeal is because of what happened then.” “Torn” is very sensitive in the portrayal of Fr. Weksler-Waszkinel’s anguish over his mixed identity. He wants to have it both ways but clearly cannot. I was impressed by the goodwill shown to him by both Catholics and Jews. After he says his last Mass in an Ursuline convent in Poland, the nuns serenade him with a guitar and music, wish him well, and promise to pray for him. You can clearly see the sisters’ love for this priest and their regret at his decision.
When he arrives in Israel, the members of his new Jewish community make him feel welcome and are patient with his attempts at learning their language and customs. Currently, Fr. Weksler-Waszkinel is working at a Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem. He still has three years to come to a decision regarding Israeli citizenship. According to Ronit, he has not yet officially left the priesthood.
Torn is available on DVD at http://www.go2films.com/en/New-Releases/Torn. A schedule of upcoming screenings of the film is also available at the link.
Peggy Bowes, a devout Catholic, is the author of The Rosary Workout – available through amazon.com. She graduated from the US Air Force Academy in 1988 and served nine years as an Air Force pilot and Health and Wellness consultant. Details are available at http://www.otherisrael.org/films. Readers wanting to learn more about the Jewish faith might enjoy reading Catholic author Cheryl Dickow’s fascinating book, Our Jewish Roots. You can find her work on the http://catholicexchange.com/.