Purity (2002)

Genres - Culture & Society, Spirituality & Philosophy  |   Sub-Genres - Biography, Gender Issues, Religions & Belief Systems, Sociology  |   Run Time - 63 min.  |   Countries - Israel  |  
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Israeli documentarian Anat Zuria's nonfiction work Purity enters and explores the long-clandestine realm of the Thahat Hamishphaha -- the millennia-old rituals and legislation that govern female behavior and shape feminine sexuality within Jewish Orthodox faith and theology. Zuria opens the film with lengthy reflections on her own experiences as a Jewish woman and a child of orthodoxy, as well as those of her friends Natalie, Katie, and Shira, who have grown up in the same community, subject to like standards. Central to the film is an exploration of the nidda -- a ten-day period of sexual abstinence imposed on Orthodox women, followed (by necessity) with a trip to the mikve, or cleansing baths. Zuria filters this practice through the individual experiences of the women who appear on camera, and is thus able to filmically explore its meaning on objective and subjective levels. She intercuts revealing, candid interviews with haunting and intimate footage of the aforementioned ritual (and others) being performed, thus providing rare insight into a subculture long considered taboo in the cinema.

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Keywords

bath, cultural-traditions, Jewish, Judaism [Orthodox], perspectives, purity, religious-principles, ritual, sexuality, struggle, women's-issues