One Family: An Ethiopian Adoption is a documentary story of Rob and Claudia, an interfaith couple, who travel to Ethiopia to adopt Meskerem, a 10-year-old girl. She lost her parents to the AIDS epidemic that is sweeping across Africa and leaving over one million children as orphans. This is the third documentary for Jim Ritvo (formerly a practicing attorney) and Dave Raizman and their company called 132 Main Productions.
As reported in the Jewish Advocate newspaper, the film was shown in the New England Film and Video Festival in Brookline, Massachusetts, another example of how it is possible to reach a broader audience by screening a film in a commercial theater in the context of a general film festival and not one that is exclusively or even primarily Jewish.
As the filmmakers follow the couple, they found that issues of race were not nearly as important to the people they interviewed in Africa, where many other priorities are of higher concern. In addition, they were surprised to see how the orphanage became a family for the orphans and how the separation for Meskerem, even for an apparently better life, was not easy. The film documents the family’s return to the United States for a little less than two months, during which time there is an examination of the various cultures that Meskerem must integrate into her life, beginning with the fast for Yom Kippur. For someone who lived a life with little food and may have often gone hungry, the notion of fasting is a difficult concept to grasp, especially at ten years old.
For those who are intrigued by the various dimensions of interfaith and multicultural families within a Jewish community, this is certainly a film to consider. It is a Big Tent indeed for those who wish to enter it and live within it.