Re: field gear - waterproof maps

Thu, 19 Jan 1995 12:30:02 EST

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As part of the Judaism section of the World Religions course I'm
teaching this term, I'm preparing to use the film IN HER OWN TIME.
The film is anthropologist Barbara Meyerhoff's very personal
exploration of a Los Angeles Hassidic community. In the course
of making the film, Meyerhoff learned she had cancer. The film
becomes her elegy. Learning of her illness, the community Meyerhoff
was documenting offered her resources, rituals, and interpretations
of the meaning of her illness.

I am unfamiliar with some of these practices and would like further
information before I screen this film with my class.

1. Meyerhoff, divorced and a non-practicing Jew, is led through the
mikvah by the rabbi's wife who explains, "...when you're in a state
of purity, your wishes comes true." Is this an alternate use of
a woman's ritual purification?
2. She is given a new Hebrew name " the Angel of Death couldn't
find her." What is the procedure for this?
3. She is persuaded to request her Get from her former husband, and
does so Meyerhoff explains " get my soul back." Is this her
personal interpretation (she's tying up the loose ends of her life),
or is there something else I'm missing?
4. Finally, in a most affecting ritual, Barbara Meyerhoff beats
willow branches on the floor and pleads for forgiveness and salvation,
then tosses the branches over the bookcase. What is this ritual?

She dies soon after. The film closes with her dates (1935-1985)
and the caution that the film must be shown in full. It's a powerful
documentary on many levels.

Thanks much!

Maureen Korp, PhD
University of Ottawa