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Sister Rose's Passion
Sister Rose's Passion
Director: Oren Jacoby
Genres: Documentary
NR     2006     0hr 39min

Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary SISTER ROSE?S PASSION tells the inspirational story of a most unlikely activist who has made the battle against anti-Semitism her life?s work. This poignant, must-see fil...  more »


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Movie Details

Director: Oren Jacoby
Creators: Slawomir Grunberg, Oren Jacoby, Elgin Smith, Melissa Hacker, Kellie Pyffer, Peter LeDonne, Risa Perlmutter Goldstein, Steve Kalafer
Genres: Documentary
Sub-Genres: Religion
Studio: Docurama
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 06/27/2006
Original Release Date: 01/01/2006
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2006
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 0hr 39min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 1
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

She looks so innocent. But Sister Rose is a Force.
Jesse Kornbluth | New York | 12/14/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

""Why did the Jews want to put the Son of God to death?"

That's the question some very pleasant people --- Christians, all --- ask at the start of "Sister Rose's Passion." And the answer is not a brainbuster. They all seem to know it: The Jews are Satanic creatures. Killing Jesus was their destiny --- and, now, their mark of shame.

"Sister Rose's Passion" was released in 2003, the year that --- not coincidentally --- saw the release of Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ." One film is notorious: It made a fortune and got reams of press. The other is little known: It was shown on HBO and at film festivals, it was nominated for (but did not win) an Academy Award in the Best Documentary category.

But size isn't everything. Authenticity matters. Courage matters. The truth, odd as it seems, also matters. And so, although Gibson's admirers might not like it, these films are linked. How? Because Oren Jacoby and his subject, Sister Rose Thering, rudely jumped the large zone of politeness around Gibson's movie and tied it to the long, nasty history of blaming the Jews for the murder of the King of the Jews. Sister Rose's review of "The Passion of the Christ" is blunt: "There's no scholarship. It's shocking."

What's much more shocking is Sister Rose, who was, at the time of filming, an 84-year-old Dominican nun. For there is nothing in her background that suggests she would dedicate her life to educating the elders of her church about its corrosive, historically incorrect anti-Semitism. She was a farmer's daughter. Grew up in aptly named Plain, Wisconsin. Became a nun in 1938.

In years to come, she would travel to Auschwitz. Her report: "The guide told me you could smell the burning flesh for miles." She did her homework, got anti-Semitic textbooks removed from Catholic schools. She was a key player in the Church's 1962 reversal of opinion about the role of the Jews in the Crucifixion. In 1986, when she was in her late '60s, she traveled to Austria to protest the inauguration of Kurt Waldheim, who had recently been exposed for committing atrocities as a German soldier in World War II; in the melee, the crowd pushed Sister Rose around and tore a yellow star from her coat.

The heart of the film is Sister Rose telling her story. But Jacoby, a consummate documentarian, has looked far and wide for footage never seen before. I thought I'd seen every frame taken in World War II Germany; I blinked here. And, a universe away, Jacoby found footage of Catholic rituals that will be stunning to almost anyone --- especially the scene when two dozen nuns-to-be walk down the stairs in wedding dresses, prostrate themselves at the altar and are married to Jesus Christ.

There's a nice surprise at the end of the film. It's sweet. You may find yourself smiling. Go ahead. Sister Rose would understand. But then, this mild-mannered, seemingly innocuous child of the farm understands much more than a lot of so-called smarter folks."
Sister Rose's Passion
J. Charles | 01/03/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Sister Rose was a true heroine. If she is right, that the way to eliminate hate is by being careful what we teach our children, there is hope for the future."
Sister Rose as a servant leader
R. McOuat | Winston-Salem, NC | 11/01/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Sister Rose's Passion explores the story of Sister Rose Thering, a Dominican nun who has devoted her life to battling anti-Semitism within the Catholic Church. In the film, Sister Rose recalls how she "almost got ill" reading the Catholic texts that were being used across the country to educate school children. Jews were being vilified as the murderers of Christ. She made it her calling to dedicate her life's work to justifying the church's malevolent practices. In doing so, she encountered much resistance to her work. For example, one bishop in Milwaukee, in asking her not to publish her work, suggested that she should not "hang our dirty laundry." But as Sister Rose retorted, "I listened to what he had to say and then I hung it." It is that spirit of resistance that stands out throughout the film.

The crowning accomplishment of her career occurred when the Catholic Church decided to address Jewish-Catholic relations, and Augustine Cardinal Bea requested Sister Rose's dissertation. Influenced by Sister Rose's work, the Vatican issued "Nostra Aetate," a document that declared the Jews not responsible for the death of Jesus. This groundbreaking shift in church policy led to widespread changes in Catholic education throughout the world. Her work extended beyond the Catholic Church. For example, Sister Rose was instrumental in the passing of a bill that makes holocaust education mandatory in every school in New Jersey.

For Sister Rose, I would suggest that her act of trust was with God and with the Catholic Church. Despite her outrage with church policy, she decided to remain within the framework of the Catholic Church. Other Christian denominations do not teach their children about Jews in the manner of the Catholic Church, and she could have made a statement simply by attending another denomination. However, she believed she could reform the policies of the church in which she was raised. Sister Rose stood out from the crowd and did the unexpected. She challenged the status quo and strived to find new directions for the common welfare of a marginalized group. Although these actions were not popular, the actions she took reflected the highest regard for the rights of other people and the common welfare. She used her passion and resistance in her efforts to rock the boat. Specifically, Sister Rose was committed in her ideals and wasn't afraid to make others uncomfortable by rejecting tradition (the familiar). In the end, Sister Rose got her message out to as many people as possible and initiated change for the sake of social justice.