"Walk on Water" – let’s go to the movies

An award-winning Israeli film will be on the program for the Sunday, May 14 meeting of the Humanistic Jewish Havurah of Southwest Florida. We’ll gather at 1:30 p.m. for “coffee ’n chat” before the film starts at 2:00 p.m. sharp.

The event takes place in the Federation’s David G. Willens Community Room, 2500 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Suite 2201, Naples. Contact Dena Sklaroff to make your reservation at denas27@aol.com or 239.591.0101.

Walk on Water is about Eyal, an Israeli intelligence agent, a member of the Mossad who performs the duties of a detective, and a professional killer. He is assigned to act as a tour guide for a young German man who is visiting his sister in an Israeli kibbutz. The German siblings’ grandfather was a Nazi believed to have escaped to Argentina, and the Mossad is trying to track him down to kill him.

American film critic Daniel Garrett writes: “Walk on Water is a film that offers pleasure and insight, including the pleasure of insight, as it explores family, politics – the relationship between Germans and Israeli Jews, and the possibilities for friendship, love and sex. Its characters are made believable by their moods and their thoughts, whether it is cheer or bitterness that they feel. What does the present owe the past, and how much must the personal yield to the political? How can honesty and hope coexist? Walk on Water offers images of Istanbul, Israel and Germany that alone make the film worth seeing. More than seventy locations in Israel and Germany were filmed in less than a month.”

“Walking on water” brings up an apparition of Jesus walking on water. This tale has become a metaphor when referring to an impossible task. The phrase is widely used to refer to the performance of extraordinary undertakings, as in the titles of books that aim to show individuals how to break through their personal limitations and achieve dramatic success.

From a scientific perspective, an act of walking on water would be anomalous because it doesn’t fit with what we know to be possible. In the film, when Eyal and the young German are near the Sea of Galilee, the young German walks on the edge of a log over and into the water. Eyal tells him that he can’t actually walk on water, and the German replies that he thinks if someone is pure enough and practices enough he can walk on water, a childlike thought. At the end of the film this thought is revisited.

Our ethics are rarely descriptions of what we are. More often they are proscriptions against what we might become – and they call us back after we have strayed, providing direction.

From the beginning of human self-awareness, men and women have been struggling with the question, “How should I behave?” When it comes to human behavior, we tend to be very judgmental. We have a whole set of encouraging words to support certain behavior – “right,” “fair,” just” “moral.” We have a whole set of intimidating words to condemn other behavior – “wrong,” “unfair,” “unjust” “immoral.”

Faith handles ought as easily as it handles is, while humanist thought on is and ought is complicated. The tension between reality and desire is often far apart. The world does not always correspond to the world we want. Values are different from facts, but both are judged. Some are good. Some are bad. Some are right. Some are wrong.

A discussion following the film will provide ample opportunity to consider these questions.