'Jewish Singles in the Snow’ is a half-hour documentary set over a ski retreat attended by young Australian Jewish singles, to be aired on ABC Compass. These singles have ventured to the Victorian Alps in the hopes of finding not only love, but a love that will enable the continuation of their faith, culture, and people. This isn’t easy. The ancient Judaism is struggling to maintain a relevance in secular modernity, and assimilation rates within this already tiny minority are soaring worldwide. Between ski runs, team-building exercises, bonfires and Jewish rituals, 25 year-old Jewish filmmaker Josh Ben-Moshe speaks with his contemporaries about the nuances of Judaism, and the motivations and struggles involved in holding out for the Jewish “One”. This documentary is a philosophical love story, exploring arguably Judaism’s most pressing existential crisis with a mix of insight, compassion and romantic entertainment.
A short summary of the issue the documentary is addressing
Is Judaism on its way to becoming a footnote in history?
Numbering around 100,000 in Australia and only 15 million worldwide, the Jewish population is – and always has been – a minority.
But across global Jewish communities, assimilation rates approaching 50 per cent (and rising) have led to fears that Judaism in the diaspora is dying out.
‘Jewish Singles in the Snow’ explores this issue, capturing the Australian Jewish youth at the heart of this cultural crisis, at an event run by an organisation committed to healing it.
Through conversations with these Jewish singles, audiences will learn why finding a Jewish partner is difficult, the myriad personal meanings Judaism has to its people, and why – if at all – these singles believe Jewish continuity is important.
What is the impact vision statement of the documentary?
Our vision is to offer a sensitive lens into modern Judaism’s biggest battle.
Australia’s Jewish youth will gain insight and understanding to the complex questions they grapple with.
The wider Jewish community will gain an empathy for the youth whose hands hold their religion and ethnicity’s future, and learn positive strategies to address the crisis.
And the non-Jewish general population will learn about this key Jewish issue, and find relatability in modern questions of love and dating.
What outcomes does the project hope to achieve from making this documentary?
Jewish communities around the world are at a loss as to how to address the issue of Jewish marriage and assimilation. For many, the issue is too painful, evoking emotional responses of anger and despair rather than solutions.
While they are growing in number, initiatives to connect young Jews like the ski retreat featured in ‘Jewish Singles in the Snow’ are rare. But they help. Instead of censuring those leaving their people for love, Jewish communities can observe programs like this as a positive, possible response to a pressing issue. Additionally, through our protagonists, community stakeholders will be able to learn and understand the thoughts and emotions young Jews experience in relation to questions of Jewish marriage, better positioning them for empathy and solutions.
The film also hopes to prompt young Jews in similar positions to consider issues of Jewish marriage, and to find solace in the shared struggles of their peers - whatever marriage route they ultimately go down.
How will this documentary achieve its outcomes?
The filmmakers aim to produce a fun and accessible film that explores a concerning social issue facing Jewish Australians, and indeed Jewish communities around the world. The film is being produced with a strong connection to local Jewish communities, and as such its release is expected to ripple positively and widely across the greater Australian Jewish population. We expect this to happen naturally through faith-based organisations, community gatherings, social media platforms, and word of mouth.
For the non-Jewish audience, it's the strength of the dating and relationships theme that presents an exciting opportunity for this film to thrive on the iView platform. Leveraging a combination of a social media campaign, youth focused website articles and the iView platform, we expect the film to find enough eyes to create a spark of interest and viewership amongst young Australians.
How will partnerships with this project help inform the project development?
The project has received Development Support from Film Victoria, will air on ABC Compass and ABC iView, and is being produced with collaboration from local community organisations like Chabad Youth and Young Jewish Professionals. Despite these different stakeholders, editorial influence will lie exclusively in the hands of the production team.
Casting will also ensure a cross-sectional representation of Australia's Jewish community, featuring opinions from across the religious and cultural spectrum.
Audience Engagement and Social Impact
What actions does this project hope for its viewers after seeing this film?
We have secured interest for acquisition from ABC Compass and as a result we will have access to a diverse audience. Naturally, we will access a primarily older demographic with an evening broadcast, but a younger audience through catch-up streaming. Of the younger viewers, this includes younger Jews who are grappling with questions themselves around Jewish marriage, or are simply interested to see the topic discussed and on air.
Measurement and Evaluation
What is the projects indicators for success?
Our first pillar of success for the film's release is its reception and viewership across the Australian general public after national broadcast. With the wider Australian public, success comes with numbers. More viewers means more opportunities to foster empathy and understanding towards the Aussie Jewish community.
Secondly, and just as vitally, we will be assessing our success with the reception and feedback that comes from inside the Jewish community.
Finally, we will be pushing to have the film carry into international territories as well. This is a story that concerns Jewish communities worldwide, and its themes and issues are also relatable to anyone from a minority, or even anyone looking for love.