Originally published on JewishBoston.com.
When someone inherits more than one tradition, how can he make them mesh? For many contemporary Jews, this question may arise when parents come from different faiths or different Jewish streams. For the title character of My Name is Asher Lev, the challenge arises when a Hasidic boy turns out to be an artistic prodigy. Religious Jews aren’t meant for the arts, we’re told. To paint requires breaking all manner of mitzvot (religious laws), from the second commandment (you know, the one about graven images) to the rules of modesty and honoring one’s parents. Those last two are particularly troublesome for Asher, whose artistic impulse leads him to paint nudes and eventually crucifixion scenes featuring his parents. To use director Scott Edmiston’s art-world metaphor, Asher must figure out in which frame he will live his life. Continue reading