In August 1994, I was an introspective, brainy 16-year-old, fresh from a summer in Israel with a busload of other 16-year-olds. On my last morning in Jerusalem, I had watched the sun rise: cool breezes over ancient golden stones. I heard church bells ring and the Muslim call to prayer, whispering my own Hebrew dreams into fuzzy pink air. As a Jewish teen who went (reluctantly) to Israel for the Roman ruins but stayed for the prayers, when we chanted under desert stars I was suspended somewhere in between Reform Jewish teenagerhood and a future as a religious studies professor—plus my always evolving, complex relationship with Jewish adulthood.
This was when I first encountered Rodger Kamenetz’s The Jew in the Lotus: A Poet’s Rediscovery of Jewish Identity in Buddhist India.
Cuban film director Fernando Pérez was inspired to make Life Is to Whistle by the work of modernist painter René Magritte, in whose work "reality does not stop being reality, but is, at once, another reality." Magritte's paintings have been described as "elaborate fantasies constructed around commonplace situations." Life Is to Whistle is an energetic look at commonplace situa