Legendary Jewish Actress Carol Kane Plays Adult Bat Mitzvah Student in Upcoming Film – Kveller
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Legendary Jewish Actress Carol Kane Plays Adult Bat Mitzvah Student in Upcoming Film

Jason Schwartzman plays a cantor in the anxious comedy "Between the Temples."

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 22: Carol Kane attends the "iMordecai" New York Screening at JCC Manhattan on February 22, 2023 in New York City.

via Dominik Bindl/Getty Images

As someone whose bat mitzvah took place in her aunt’s backyard without any religious ceremony, I’ve often wondered if it’s time for me to have the meaningful adult bat mitzvah of my dreams. I have a feeling I may find some answers — or maybe just a lot more questions — in the upcoming film “Between the Temples.”

The movie will star Carol Kane (!) as a grade school music teacher looking to get an adult bat mitzvah. She goes to her former student, a cantor (!!) played by Jason Schwartzman (!!!), for guidance. The renewed connection between the two turns his world upside down and leads him to a crisis of faith.

While Kane is definitely known for her many memorable Jewish roles, from “Hester Street” to Amazon Studios’ “Hunters” to the recent indie “iMordechai,” this is definitely Schwartzman’s most Jewish role yet, though the father of two did previously play a Jewish, Philip Roth-like author in “Listen Up Philip” and Jewish songwriter Richard M. Sherman in “Saving Mr. Banks.” I am definitely hoping we’ll get to hear the prolific musician — Phantom Planet’s former drummer and the man behind the “Bored to Death” theme (RIP to a great show) — do some Hebrew chanting.

Adult bat mitzvahs have become a trend in many synagogues and Jewish homes in recent years, especially among women who didn’t have the option to have them growing up. Some grandmothers are even getting bat mitzvah’ed along their granddaughters, reading from the torah together. It’s thrilling to have a movie finally explore that phenomenon

The incredible cast doesn’t stop with Kane and Schwartzman. The movie will also star Dolly De Leon (“Triangle of Sadness”), Caroline Aaron (that’s Shirley Maisel to you! And also Chanshi’s stepmom), Jewish comedic genius Rob Smigel, Madeline Weinstein (whom I loved in the indie “Beach Rats”) and Matthew Shear (“The Meyerowitz Stories,” “Marriage Story,” “Mistress America”).

“Between the Temples” will be directed by prolific indie filmmaker Nathan Silver, who, not for the first time, draws inspiration from his own Jewish mother. He documented her taking adult bat mitzvah classes in the 2019 Topic miniseries “Cutting My Mother.” Cindy, like Kane’s character, is a teacher by trade.

Silver was inspired to include his mother in his movies by German director Fassbinder, who did the same in his iconic movies. He also wrote that “when I was a pretentious adolescent schmuck of a writer, we used to meet with a Harvard professor to discuss Yiddish literature.” Love this out-of-the-box and extremely Jewish idea for mother-child bonding.

Cindy is a total show-stealer in many of his films — including in the 2014 “Uncertain Terms,” in which she plays Carla, the protagonist’s aunt who runs a home for pregnant teens and recounts her own experience as a teen mom. Yet the two’s relationship behind the scenes was often tumultuous (working with your Jewish mom is definitely brave choice for most). After Cindy was heartbroken after being cut from his 2017 “Actor Martinez,” Silver created “Cutting My Mother.” The four-part short series was a way for Silver to make amends to his mother, and it is wonderful and strangely eye-wetting. In it, Cindy talks about how she was surprised when her son asked her to star in his movies because, in her words, “My voice always annoyed my mother: I had a very Jewish inflection and I never felt I was thin enough.” She also said she had a “Bette Midler” voice, which made her wonder, “Why would anyone want to watch me or see me or hear me?” (I want to watch, hear and see as much as Cindy and Bette Midler as I can, to be honest.)

It’s impossible to watch Cindy without falling in love with her, and I really hope we’ll get to see her make a cameo in this upcoming movie (and not get cut out!!). Or at least have Kane channel some of that Jewish mom charm.

There’s no release date yet for this movie, but I’m excited to see Kane as a hopeful bat mitzvah and the upcoming hot cantor rep in Schwartzman (we need more onscreen cantors! Please and thank you!).

In the meantime, let us take a moment to marvel at this new golden age of Jewish clergy representation — from Hari Nef in “And Just Like That,” to Daveed Diggs playing a rabbi in Apple TV+ dystopic “Extrapolations,” to Adam Brody playing a rabbi in an upcoming Netflix show. What a time to be alive.

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