Monday, June 24, 2019

(Credit: Robert Kalfus)

(Courtesy of HIR - The Bayit) “Righteous Rebel,” the documentary film about the life and times of Rabbi Avi Weiss, returns to the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale-The Bayit (HIR), 3700 Henry Hudson Parkway East, in a screening to be held Saturday night, Jan. 12, at 7:30 p.m.  (Doors will open at 7:15 p.m.) 

Riverdalian Phil Schneider, the film’s producer-director, will lead a discussion following the screening.

Seating is limited, so advance registration is strongly suggested. Visit  or call the synagogue at 718-796-4730. While the presentation is free, HIR would appreciate a donation ($10 per person recommended) to defray the cost of the screening.

“Righteous Rebel” made its debut at the synagogue in 2014, when some 750 people attended three sold-out screenings. It also was an official selection at the San Diego Jewish Film Festival in 2016.

“This screening is an opportunity for people who were not yet living in the Riverdale community at the last screening, or who were otherwise unable to attend, to experience this compelling documentary on Rav Avi’s extraordinary life as an activist and spiritual leader,” said  HIR’s Associate Rabbi Ezra Seligsohn.

Combining archival footage with interviews, “Righteous Rebel” ranges from the Auschwitz death camp to the Vatican to Moscow’s Red Square as it follows Rabbi Weiss’ journey of protest against Holocaust revisionism and to free Soviet Jews. The documentary also covers the rabbi’s bold response to the Crown Heights riots of 1991 as well as his controversial endorsement of “Open Orthodoxy” and the expanded roles of women in the Modern Orthodox community.

As a result of his crusading activism and “speaking truth to power,” argued the film, Rabbi Weiss has inspired others to “show up, stand up and speak up” in times of crisis.

While documenting how Rabbi Weiss utilized an international platform to speak up against injustice for both Jews and non-Jews, “Righteous Rebel” also explores his softer side, including his commitment to create an environment of inclusion and dignity for his community.

Rabbi Weiss served as founder and spiritual leader of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale for more than four decades before stepping down in 2015 to assume a new role as the synagogue’s rabbi in residence. His achievements also include founding  the Yeshivat Chovevei Torah rabbinical seminary and co-founding of Yeshivat Maharat, the first institution to ordain Orthodox women as spiritual leaders and halachic authorities. He is also the author of numerous books, including “Open Up the Iron Door: Memoirs of a Soviet Jewish Activist” (2015), “Holistic Prayer: A Guide to Jewish Spirituality” (2014) and Principles of Spiritual Activism” (2001)


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