Yom Kippur

Created by Simon Bolton-Gabrielsen, The Pitch 2016

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A satire about Shimon, an East End, retired Jewish man, who can't come to terms with the new Palestinian immigrant neighbours next door, Yom Kippur is an allegory of the fraught relationship between Israel and Palestine, but also about the universal foolishness of prejudice and fear of the other. Shimon likes things to be just so, and pretty much has an idyllic life, with his beloved garden and comfortable home that he shares with his ever-patient wife Shahar. And yet he always manages to see the worst in things. After escalating mutual anger between him and Salim, the father of the family next door, Shimon oversteps the mark at a critical moment, when one of the man's sons is in danger. But ultimately he joins with Salim to rescue the young boy, and they begin to reevaluate their relationship. Set in London's East End, amongst the thriving immigrant communities of Whitechapel and Brick Lane, the story echoes the changing character of the place, where one immigrant nationality or religion has replaced another again and again over the centuries; where Christian, Jewish and Muslim communities have come and gone and intermingle still.

Biblical Connection

Yom Kippur arises from Peter's vision in chapter 10 of the Acts of the Apostles. Due a visit from servants of the Roman centurion, Cornelius, Peter and the disciples have been struggling with the question of whether Jesus' message is for all people, or just the Jews. In his vision, shown a sheet spread with animals that, according to Jewish law, are unclean, Peter rejects the heavenly voice enticing him to eat. But the voice rebukes him for calling God's creation unclean. The exhortation is simple: Cornelius has been proven by his charity and faith, so can't be considered unclean in God's eyes, so why would he be excepted from his Good News. Peter welcomes the newcomers and baptises them into the faith. Yom Kippur (the title being the Jewish festival in which God's people face judgement for their actions) presents this in a modern parable that speaks to the struggles and prejudices of our current day. Be it Israeli and Palestinian, English and immigrant Syrian, German and Iraqi, it's all the same pride that blinds us to our neighbour, and to the truth that they're as valid to God as we are.