Bar Mitzvah, be yourself, catechesis, Catholic, cinema, Comedy, Confirmation, faith, Haf Torah, Healing, Jewish, Keeping Up With the Steins, ministry, movie, movie ministry, Rabbi, reconciliation, Sacraments
We try everything we can do to help students know what Confirmation really means, right?! Well, Keeping Up with the Steins is about the journey of Benjamin Fiedler, who is preparing for his Bar-Mitzvah. Throw in a long-lost Grandpa and the strained relationship with he family he left, and you’ve got a funny yet touching flick that really gets a look at how secular some of our most sacred traditions have become.
The father, Adam Fiedler (played by Jeremy Piven) constantly downplays the importance of the Bar-Mitzvah, all consumed in planning the ultimate party and out doing his business competition. Young Ben invites his long lost grandfather, Irwin Fiedler (played by Garry Marshall), who in addition to being known and disliked for the way he left his family, is leading lifestyle much different than that of the family he left with his MUCH younger girlfriend (played by Daryl Hannah), and Adam’s focus switches to how to get through the Bar Mitzvah without being totally embarrassed by Irwin. In any case, the real significance of the event is lost on Adam and Ben is left trying to find the meaning in this rite of passage.
So Benjamin is trying to figure out what it all means and asks questions of all those around him, well, except the Rabbi because he seems intent to spend as little time in the Hebrew classes as possible. If it wasn’t for Irwin, poor Benjamin would remain to wallow in doubt and confusion. Irwin takes the time to work with Benjamin, talk to the Rabbi, and interact with others in a way that Benjamin not only studies the Haf Torah, he really starts to understand and believe in it.
Since Bar Mitzvah’s occur during approximately the same time we confer the Sacrament of Confirmation, and our Candidates for the sacrament are having to take ownership of their faith, much like our Jewish brethren. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist see the correlation. So, I encourage everyone to go back to the time of your Confirmation, what questions did you have? Who helped you deal with them? How was it viewed in your family (rite of passage, gracious gift from God, boring thing they had to sit through a two-hour mass for)?
If you’re reading this and you’re not of a faith that believe in Confirmation or the Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, think about why you do what you do in terms of faith & spirituality. Do you do it because it is expected, or because you really believe? Have you ever gotten wrapped up in the comercialization of a Religious event or holiday?
The other thing this movie brings to the table is the reconciliation between Adam and Irwin. Adam has a very hard time forgiving Irwin, even though Adam’s mother (played by Doris Roberts) forgave him long ago and still loves him. It takes Ben having a bit of a meltdown to get them to really talk and start to see what happened. Who do we need to reconcile with in our lives? Maybe it’s a parent, maybe a sibling or a child… but when we look at the situation(s) from their point of view would we understand their actions a little better, even if we still don’t approve or the result?
I’m also impressed at how Benjamin handles his struggle. Many kids would have given up… or just have gone along with it for the party and / or gifts. However, Benjamin truly wants to know what he’s doing and feel comforatable with it. There’s certainly honor in that – even if he does make a mis-step or two in the process.
Now, as much as I recommend this movie – especially if you need a little help diving into this type of conversation with a young candidate, I must warn you, it’s PG-13 for some brief rear nudity and alcohol use, so you’ll need to preview it before you show it to anyone at Bar-Mitzvah age. =] Enjoy!