Benjamin Freidenberg
The Colony of Shame
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Documentary

Co-Production Status: Israel, Germany

Filming Locations: Israel, Germany

Sarit, a woman in her early 50’s in Israel finds out her father, Asher, is a leper who kept his disease and past history in secret, from her and his entire family. Her driven quest to find out the truth about her father leads her to the remote Christian village of Herrnhut near Görlitz. In what was the former DDR is the home of the oldest and most influential Protestant mission in Europe. Sarit confronts her father and makes him open up about his childhood as a Jewish refugee from Iran, coming to Israel as a leper and sent to a leper hospital in Jerusalem. Behind the high stone walls of the Jerusalem Leper Hospital, he lived in a diverse community of all religions – Jews, Muslims and Christians who received medical treatment and education by the hands of the dedicated German protestant nuns who looked after the lepers with great compassion and grace for decades. After spending a decade at the hospital, Asher is released and although he is penniless and handicapped, he marries Nitza, a woman who doesn’t know anything about his illness and with whom he shares life for over 6 decades without telling her his secret. When Sarit urges him to open up, secrets embedded deep in his heart are voiced for the first time as he unfolds the historical events of his life in front of his wife and children. Relying only on memory, without documentation and without contact with former patients for he is the last living survivor, he seeks to locate the successors of those Christian nuns who saved his life and took so good care of him many years ago. Sarit travels to Germany to their monastery in Herrnhut where she uncovers documents and photos of her father’s lost childhood. While in the process of discovering her father’s story, she is witnessing another poignant history in the making as the Herrnhut mission is now a Christian hospital and shelter for Syrian refugees.

This is the extraordinary story of one woman’s journey to face the shame of her father, being ostracized from society by coming to terms with his condition and by making him come out to his wife and children as well as influencing other lepers and outcasts to overcome their shame. This the victory of universal human compassion and grace over violence, religious fundamentalism and intolerance.

Crew

Writer and Director: Benjamin Freidenberg (“Guided Tour”)

Producers: Haim Mecklberg, Estee Yacov-Mecklberg

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