Jewish Home residents to screen film about trip to Jerusalem

At age 89, Regine Arouette of Connecticut will be accompanied to Florida to watch as the film about her and seven other residents of The Jewish Home, Next Year Jerusalem, premieres at the 2013 Sarasota Film Festival on Saturday, April 13.

“Choosing life in life’s final chapter is the poignant subtext of Next Year Jerusalem,” said Andrew H. Banoff, president and chief executive officer of The Jewish Home.

The 69-minute film, written and directed by New York director and former Weston native David Gaynes, is a poetic examination of the experience of the eight residents, ranging in age from 87 to 97, who traveled to Israel in 2011. The film is a reflection on the sanctity of human experience and a reverent portrait of life’s eldest travelers.

“Each character surprises the viewer with earnest and nuanced reflections on travel, aging and hope,” said Gaynes, who has made two other documentary films. “This special film is intended to paint an honest portrait of life at life’s end. Those who spend their final days face difficult questions — what to look forward to, how to mark their days. The promise of one last adventure raises the stakes.”

Travelers also include Helen Downs, 91; Sandy Levin, 82; Leslie Novis, 90; Selma Rosenblatt, 93; Harry Shell, 92; Bill Wein, 97; and Juna Wein, 89.

Gaynes said that despite concerns about the well-being and physical health of the travelers, they met and exceeded their physical challenges and formed new friendships. Their spiritual experiences, so deeply at the heart of any journey to the “Holy Land,” are documented and presented in their complexity for the travelers

Next Year Jerusalem is less a story about tourists in a foreign land than it is a celebration of life, a meditation on the sanctity of human experience and a tribute to the wisdom acquired in the course of a lifetime.

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