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Simon Grünberg (12) never cared for his Jewish heritage, while his divorced parents bicker whether he should to his bar mithzva as father Frank wants, or save his foreskin as mother Hannah holds. When he falls in love at first sight of the new 'rabbi' Rebecca, Ben decides to join the preparatory religious class hoping to win her.Written by
Unique coming-of-age movie with decided Jewish twist
"Simon sagt 'Auf Wiedersehen' zu seiner Vorhaut" (2015 release from Germany; 81 min. US release title "Time To Say Goodbye") brings the story of 12 yr. old Simon. As the movie opens, Simon (in a voice-over) informs us that one-third of the world's men is circumcised, and what the importance of circumcision is in the Jewish faith. We then get to know Simon and his friends, as well as Simon's parents, who are divorcing. Dad has become a strict follower of the many Jewish commands and prohibitions (and supports circumcision), while Mom takes a far more liberal view of things (and opposes circumcision). For reasons unknown and unexplained, Simon was not circumcised shortly after birth (as would typically be the case), and his bar mitzvah (the Torah-imposed deadline to get circumcised) is quickly approaching. Will Simon decide to get circumcised? To tell you more of the plot would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.
Couple of comments: I've been watching movies for 5+ decades, and I think this is the very first one where the movie's primary theme is circumcision. That is a pretty serious topic obviously but director Viviane Andereggen decides to tackle it with a light touch, and makes this into a coming-of-age movie with some serious undercurrents, a smart approach for a topic like this. Along the way we see Simon struggle with how to cope with his feuding parents, rely on friends to get through confusing times, and develop a crush on the new rabbi (played by Canadian actress Catherine de Léan), who just happens to be a drop-dead gorgeous woman stationed at her very first parish. I really enjoyed this movie, and this flew by in no time.
I recently saw this movie at the 2017 Jewish & Israeli Film Festival here in Cincinnati. The Tuesday evening screening of this at my local art-house theater was attended very nicely (but not quite a sell-out), and the audience absolutely LOVED this movie, laughing an hollering at all the tight times. If you have a chance to see "Time To Say Goodbye" (or more accurately "Simon sagt 'Auf Wiedersehen' zu seiner Vorhaut"), do not miss it!
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