Carol Kane Learned A Lot From Her Role As Adult Bat Mitzvah Student in 'Between the Temples' – Kveller
Skip to Content Skip to Footer


Carol Kane Learned A Lot From Her Role As Adult Bat Mitzvah Student in ‘Between the Temples’

Including her Torah portion.

2024 Sundance Film Festival – “Between The Temples” Premiere

via Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

In the new movie “Between the Temples,” which premiered as Sundance this week, Carol Kane plays a grown woman looking to have a bat mitzvah.

The story is inspired by filmmaker Nathan Silver’s own Jewish mother, who took adult bat mitzvah classes (though she never ended up reading from the Torah on the bima) and has long been an important part of the filmmaker’s oeuvre. But the film also personally touched Kane, the veteran Jewish actress known for her unforgettable roles in both dramatic movies like “Hester Street” and iconic comedies like “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.”

In the oddball comedy “Between the Temples,” Kane plays Carla, a retired music teacher who has a new lease on life. She meets an old student, Ben Gottlieb, who is reeling from a devastating loss, taking shelter living with his two mothers and working as a cantor in the local synagogue, while both his faith and his spirit feel broken. He takes on the job of preparing Carla for her bat mitzvah, and the two form a tender romance.

Kane shared that she learned so much from this role, which she was a bit terrified to take due to the improvisational nature of Silver’s films. “I learned so much, it was just a privilege,” she shared with Vulture this week, adding, “I got taught The torah portion.”

“It’s so courageous, women who reinvent themselves, especially when you come from a different time when that wasn’t allowed,” said Kane, who was a teen during the ’70s, when bat mitzvahs were just starting to become popular in certain Jewish congregations in the U.S.

“It’s a wonderful privilege to play someone like that. There are a lot of very brave women out there,” she added.

One of those brave women is Kane’s own Jewish mother, now 97.

“The story of Carla is somewhat similar to my mom’s story,” Kane said in an interview with the AP. “She moved to France and started an entirely new life at 55. She just changed her life… I think that there are a lot of very brave women out there sort of trying to reinvent themselves at a certain age when certain responsibilities have freed them to make that choice.”

Kane also shared that the film reminded her that it’s important to be proud of your Jewish heritage.

“It’s important to stand up and be proud of who you are,” Kane told TheWrap, “especially right now with the world in such chaos and pain. I don’t think you can crawl into a hole and hide. You have to claim who you are. You can’t control what the response to that will be.”

The movie was also a huge learning experience for her Jewish co-star, Jason Schwartzman, who had to immerse himself in Judaism in ways he never had to before. “One of my huge takeaways was honestly just this idea of contributing that what you don’t know to the table,” Schwartzman told Vulture.

Robert Smigel, who plays the movie’s rabbi, said that the movie is sort of a Jewish “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” but that it doesn’t feel like a movie only about a specific religion.

“Our movie is really about these people in this stage of feeling loss and questioning things, which I think everybody can understand,” Schwartzman shared with TheWrap. “It’s just about humanity and patience and being there for each other to make certain breakthroughs.”

Jewish co-star Madeline Weinstein, who plays the rabbi’s daughter that both his family and Smigel’s character try to matchmake Ben with, says the movie makes her think of the Yiddish word “doikayt,” which is about hereness and diasporism, about celebrating and strengthening the Jewish experience wherever it may take place.

It’s about “fully being and making community wherever you are,” Weinstein explained to Vulture.

The movie appears to be so much about the Jewish experience — about finding and falling in love with Judaism again, but also, as Silver said, about the very Jewish experience of finding conflict in community settings, especially at the dinner table.

Watch the whole chat with the cast here:

Skip to Banner / Top Skip to Content