New York - Documentary On The Noam Elimelech Brings Origins Of Chasidus Into 21st Century
New York - As thousands flock to Poland for today’s yahrtzeit of R’ Elimelech of Lizhensk, a new film by master storyteller Hanoch Teller offers a glimpse into the life of a leader so revered that countless followers continue to make the annual trek to his gravesite in the dead of Poland’s frigid winter, 226 years after his death.
Titled “Reb Elimelech and the Chassidic Legacy of Brotherhood”, the seventy four minute documentary delves into the life of R’ Elimelech Weisblum, better known as R’ Elimelech of Lizhensk and gives the viewer a glimpse into the early foundations of today’s chasidic movement.
“If not for the holocaust, the period prior to the Baal Shem Tov was perhaps the most horrific period of anti-semitism ever,” Rabbi Teller told VIN News. “There were blood libels, taxes, wars and with every war, they blamed the Jewish people. The Baal Shem Tov came along and gave people hope, a reason to live and a message of love for one another. As time went on, the young chasidic movement embraced the charismatic R’ Elimelech as its leader and as someone who spent time in a self imposed golus wandering from place to place, he was able to share his message with the people.”
While R’ Elimelech’s message was warmly welcomed by many, there were those who felt that the time had come to stop the chasidic movement in its tracks and attempted to discredit R’ Elimelech and the fledgling movement he was spearheading.
“R’ Elimlech refused to give into them or to confront these misnagdim in anyway,” explained Rabbi Teller. “The now famous words of his tefila ‘Aderaba’, were an inspiration, urging everyone to see the good and never the bad and that message was an unstoppable force that appealed to me and explained the pull of R’ Elimelech to the many people who continue to flock to his gravesite.”
The film includes appearances by Rabbi Abraham Twerski, Rabbi Berel Wein, Rabbi Moshe Weinberger, Dayan Chanoch Ehrentreu, Rabbi David Gottlieb and singers Abish Brodt and Avraham Fried. Featuring rare archival material, state of the art graphics and full orchestration with music that Rabbi Teller describes as “hauntingly beautiful” the film brings R’ Elimelech’s message into our own frame of reference as it intersperses the messages of ahavas yisroel with footage of some of today’s best known organizations including Camp HASC, Yad Eliezer, Hatzala and Camp Simcha.
“The ahavas yisroel that we see today dovetails with the messages of the Baal Shem Tov,” said Rabbi Teller. “I was in America the week after Hurricane Sandy and there was such a tremendous outpouring of ahavas yisroel, so many people who wanted to help others. We see so many examples of bikur cholim, hachnassas kallah, a clear demonstration that the legacy of chasidus is alive and well.”
Reb Elimelech and the Chassidic Legacy of Brotherhood was filmed last summer in Minnesota and has been screened in numerous locations around the world including Jerusalem, Manchester and various locations in the United States. Screenings of the film, which is not being made available for sale, can be arranged with Rabbi Teller at www.hanochteller.com and should scheduling permit, Rabbi Teller will personally come to the screening to introduce the film at no charge.
Several viewings are being held this week in honor of R’ Elimelech’s yahrtzeit on the 21st of Adar including March 3rd at 8 PM at the Young Israel of Midwood, March4th at 4:30 PM at Yeshiva Ateres Shmuel in Waterbury, Connecticut, March 5th at 8 PM at Bais Yaakov High School in Toronto, March 6th in Miami at Yeshiva Toras Chaim at 8 PM and two screenings on March 10th at the Cincinnati Hebrew Day School at 12 noon and at the Kanner Hall in Los Angeles at 7:00 PM.
Rabbi Teller reports enthusiastic response from audiences who have seen the film.
“We had 180 people in Minneapolis who had no connection with religious Judaism dancing in the aisles as they watched the film. In Dunwoody, Georgia we had people singing the song Aderaba with their southern accents. And after a small viewing of eight to ten people in another area, every person who saw the film said that before their car keys were in the ignition they had already resolved to do more to help others.”
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