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Orthodox rabbi’s films share ‘relatable stories’ based everyday life

Avi Schwartz draws on his experience as a rabbi in his movies, which include the 2023 “The Quest: Get Back Your Ex.”

A still from the 2004 short film “Uncle Chaim” by Rabbi Avi Schwartz. Credit: Courtesy.
A still from the 2004 short film “Uncle Chaim” by Rabbi Avi Schwartz. Credit: Courtesy.
Rabbi Avi Schwartz. Credit: Courtesy.

Some artists wear berets. The Orthodox rabbi and filmmaker Avi Schwartz sports a black hat and a beard.

His 2023 film “The Quest: Get Back Your Ex” is a “dramatic tale of love and self-discovery” of six divorced couples who “undergo trials of redemption to win back lost loves and mend broken hearts.”

The one-hour film, which is available on the Fox Corporation-owned Tubi streaming platform, was a finalist in a film festival in the United Kingdom and received an honorable mention in another film festival, associated with several U.S. universities, according to Schwartz.

“My films reflect and incorporate relatable everyday stories—namely, what I experience as a rabbi meeting everyday people,” Schwartz told JNS. “So audiences of all ages, religious and secular, can enjoy my films.”

Born in Beersheva in Israel’s south, Schwartz now lives in Zichron Yaakov by the Mediterranean to the north. He was ordained at Mesivtha Tifereth Jerusalem in New York in 1997. Schwartz has made four films, three of which have been released.

He told JNS that hears from fans who have watched his films from as far as Italy, Morocco and India.

‏His 2004 short film “Uncle Chaim,” which was re-released in 2023, is based on a true story of a man who hid his mentally challenged brother from his community and even his own family as a result of concerns about its stigma. When Uncle Chaim came to visit one Shabbat, the father had to explain to his son, Danny, that he had an uncle. (An obsession of Chaim’s ends up saving the day.)

‏Schwartz studied at the New York Film Academy in 2001 and has prior experience working on Hollywood sets, including for the long-running television sitcom “Friends.”

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