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A Fire in the Forest Film Premier

Rabbi Israel ben Eliezer (1698-1760), known as the Ba’al Shem Tov, is one of the most beloved and celebrated figures in Jewish history, but also one of the most elusive. Today, Jews all over the world, and even many non-Jews, revere him as the founder of the Hasidic movement, and as a model of piety and mystical spirituality. But many also find it difficult to say why he is so important to them, and to characterize his unique contribution to Jewish spirituality. Thus, A Fire in the Forest, a new documentary on the life and legacy of the Ba’al Shem Tov, sets itself the task of answering these basic questions, exploring how the Ba’al Shem Tov’s teachings can be applied to our lives today.

To do this, I traveled with filmmakers as their guide on this journey around the world, talking to leading rabbis, scholars and teachers of Hasidism, traveling to the graves of the Ba’al Shem Tov’s spiritual heirs, and to his own prayer-house and grave in the town of Mezhibozh in the Ukraine. Through stories and historical information, interviews with today’s most important teachers and on-location footage, A Fire in the Forest shows us how the legacy of the Ba’al Shem Tov is still very much alive in our day and relevant to our daily lives.

The film, which I narrate, also includes interviews with Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, Dr. Susannah Heschel, Rabbi Arthur Green, Rabbi Mimi Feigelson,  Dr. Ada Rapaport-Albert, Grand Rabbi Yitzhak Aharon Korff and many others.

The premier of this new documentary by Chuck Davis and Netanel Miles-Yepez will be on Thursday July 26th, 2012 at 7PM, The Canyon Theater, Boulder Public Library, Admission: $8.00. We look forward to you joining us for this journey through the forest of historical and spiritual discovery.

About Rabbi Marc Soloway

Marc is a native of London, England where he was an actor and practitioner of complimentary medicine before training as a rabbi in London, Jerusalem and Los Angeles. He was ordained at the Ziegler School of Rabbinical Studies at the American Jewish University in 2004 and has been the the spiritual leader at Bonai Shalom in Boulder ever since. Marc was a close student of Rabbi Zalman Schechter Shalomi and received an additional smicha (rabbinic ordination) from him in 2014, just two months before he died. He has been the host and narrator of two documentary films shown on PBS; A Fire in the Forest: In Search of the Baal Shem Tov and Treasure under the Bridge: Pilgrimage to the Hasidic Masters of Ukraine. Marc is a graduate of the Institute of Jewish Spirituality, a fellow of Rabbis Without Borders, has traveled to Ghana in a rabbinic delegation with American Jewish World Service and co-chair of the Rabbinical Council and national board member of Hazon, which strives to create more sustainable Jewish communities. In 2015, Marc was among a group of 12 faith leaders honored at The White House as “Champions of Change” for work on the climate. Marc is a proud member of Beit Izim, Boulder’s Jewish goat milking co-op.

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  1. yasher kochachem to the three men responsible for this uplifting film. I can't help but notice the timing- the saddest time in the Jewish calendar, and of course a week after the massacre in Aurora. The Baal Shem Tov taught that the essence of people is where there thoughts are. On one hand there is planned, premeditated darkness and destruction. On the other hand, a journey towards light and holiness where everyone along the path and the interviewees who spoke about the Baal Shem Tov became illuminated with a longing for unity and goodness. May all your lives continue to fan those flames and share them with others.