2000 persons attended over two days. Photo © Monika Lightstone

2000 persons attended over two days. Photo © Monika Lightstone

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

Hi Irene,

I watched it last night finally and I loved it. It brought me to tears a few times, actually. Very moving and touching film.

Chanie is one amazing lady. Everyone featured really had something to contribute.


Friday, October 25, 2013

Irene and Abbey,

I saw your film yesterday at the Outremont Theatre. I was first of all very enthused about all the school kids who were there, so happy to know they were watching and learning. So happy to have a showing in Outremont.

But mostly I wanted to say how much I enjoyed it. Loved the characters, learned so much, brought down a few stereotypes I didn’t even know I had.

Thanks so much for making it.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Hi Abbey

I’m happy I’ve seen Shekinah yesterday — I think this film is important socially, a trait you don’t often see in any production.

The main thing I’m taking away is that that there is fear on both sides, and that is only because we always fear what is different. The film shows that when people come together, it usually goes well, and that’s how you solve such difficult situations.

So, congratulations again!

Friday, October 25, 2013

You two are the true rock stars! Was a great show and great vibe in the theatre. Kathy and our friends loved it too. Nice one.

Friday, October 26, 2013

Abbey and Irene —

It is a wonderful film! I was so glad to see what you made of it. Very interesting and very engaging.

many congratulations

Friday, October 25, 2013

Hi Brigitte

Fascinating and invigorating, my students were inspired and impressed.
I really appreciate your invitation and I know you can make it happen

Dina Vourdousis, Vice Principal of Marymount

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Dear Abbey and Irene,

Thank you for a compelling and sensitive portrait of Hassidic women. What a unique idea to penetrate the seemingly impermeable membrane of the Hassidic community. I grew up with Lubavitch in Outremont-until we moved to Protestant NDG! My brother and all my cousins went to the Lubavitch Yeshiva on Park Avenue. My eldest cousin Fivie has courted the Lubavitcher since he was an adolescent and had two audiences with the Rebbe Menachem Schneerson in New York, He is under his spell to this day.

I would love to see a sequel on Hassidic men. I am sure they would not be as forthcoming as the women! My namesake, Chanie, was absolutely riveting. What a courageous woman, a real powerhouse, a model for all women.

Thank you for inviting me behind the scenes of this fascinating community. Your narrative was excellent, Abbey. Though I would have relished hearing more Yiddish spoken.

Honey A. Dresher

Sunday, October 27, 2013

I’m very proud of you and the impact you are making with this documentary and the new way people are looking at Chassidim as a result of it. What an incredible Mitzvah you have done! May you have continued and even greater hatzlacha in your work!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Hi Bill,

I went to see the movie on sunday afternoon and I was so impressed with the way it was done. I was more impressed waiting in line to go in realizing that at least half of the crowd was not jewish and a large amount were french canadian. I have always been intrigued by the Lubavitch community in the way they live there life and the love they half towards life. What I got most out of the movie is that the women have a more modern way of thinking and are far more advanced then the men are. Please thank Abbey and his wife for putting together a very interesting story. I also loved the Q and A after the movie.

Warren Green

Monday, October 28, 2013

Hey Abbey!

Last night i was able to make it to your screening, i wanted to congratulate both you and Irene and say that the film’s wisdom touched me. It was really interesting to see what Hasidism is about. I had no idea they were kabbalistic. Do you know if they use the tree of life and tarot cards in their tradition? Wow, that philosophy is so ancient and its really interesting to see how such an old practice is living today.

What’s more interesting is how you picked the subject and the idea of Shekinah. When i have been researching time, astrology, and kabala the feminine principle and the idea of polarity has helped orientate me on what it’s all about. I feel like you really gave dignity to the subject and presented a film that really honours the feminine.

Thanks Abbey,

Monday, October 28, 2013

Hi Abbey,

Thanks for the invitation to the screening of Shekinah, which we thought was terrific and funny… and what a great turn out!

Super congrats to you and to Irene and the rest of your team — we’re so pleased that your work is garnering the praise it richly deserves (and very grateful for the message your film imparts).

Happy for you and be well,

P.S. Really nice seeing Baubie’s photograph.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Hey guys,

Just wanted to congratulate you both. Last night’s screening was great — great film, film theatre, great crowd — a real home run!

Great work as always!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Hi Abbey and Irene,

Thank you very much the artistic experience! They were in full compliance the images and the dialogues.

Everyone who sees this film will be a happy and joyful.

I do not speak neither English nor French, but I understood everything. The picrures also said the same thing that the dialogues. The subtitles helped me a lot and Éva, who understood the dialogues too, subsequently explained everything.

Abbey’s movie was an exciting one. It was fast-paced. The continuity, the rhythm of the film captivated the viewer. The images were clear, understandable, all information I could encode.

When I write, I want that every word should be clear and understandable. And the reader is never bored.

So we enjoyed it very very much!

The film transmitted a great humanity and love of life.

The girls gaiety, her eyes shining talked about the same: love of life and the beauty of life. But the film could beautifully talk about the pain, the cemetery sequences were in color, feeling, technical solutions also perfect.

Irene and Abbey, you know, my English is very poor, it is hard to me to say how much I liked the movie!

Thank you very much!
A lot of love and hugs!
Ákos and Éva

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Hi Irene,

Mazel tov to you and Abbey!

It was fantastic to see so many of the majority population taking part the other night, coming out to learn about the women of Chabad. What an eye-opener for all!

I hope the broadcast reaches the audience it deserves and that film festivals are showing interest.

And you looked lovely!!

Take care,

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Hi Irene,

Just a quick note to congratulate you for the astounding success of Shekinah.

I have read about it in media far and wide!

Wishing you continued success!

B’hatzlacha raba…

Consulat général d’Israël – Montreal

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Hi Irene,

I went to see Shekinah on Sunday at the Outremont. I thought it was a wonderful glimpse into a life we never get see, even though we see it from the outside on a regular and disconcerting basis. The inner workings were portrayed beautifully and the choice of interviewed material put the seminary and the thrust of the Lubavitch movement into a visionary stream that I have not witnessed to date ( Michael prays at various Lubavitch shuls regularly). Very lovely (barring the homosexual bit!). Thank you for all your efforts in helping the world to embrace Judaism in all of its facets.

Mazel Tov! Please pass my congratulations on to Abbey.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

EXCELLENT film, Mushka!
Thank you for letting me view it.
Wonderful in every way.
We will stay in touch, yes…

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Abby and Irene,

Congrats on the new film, we saw it yesterday at Cine du Parc. Wonderful cinematography, very warm and inviting. I am not sure how you managed to access the group, perhaps it was connected to their effort to outreach after the incidents that are briefly discussed in the film. I liked the ‘ethnographic’ elements, allowing us to observe the ongoing activity and get some insight into the lives of the community and especially the women. Do you think the men would have allowed you the same access? Overall you have opened the doors to the previously unknown, good effort from both of you. The music was good.

Be strong and keep reeling!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Hi Abbey, Just wanted to tell you that I went to see Shekinah this afternoon. Found myself in a crowded row between young francophones to my left and aging Jews to my right. I loved the film. I was really surprised by it (which surprised me) and downright moved by the end. Thank you and congratulations!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Hello Irene,

I saw your film Shekinah last night at cinema du parc. I just wanted to say that I found it spiritually inspiring. Great job on a tricky subject. Congratulations to you and your team.

All the best

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Dear chana,

I think you run an extraordinary place!!!

The most prevalent impression i have, having just seen the documentary, is of a constant sense of being alive being instilled in these girls.

Being alive!

What a precious gift it is to be taught to feel the great connection we all share, every moment, every day.

Élise Goyette

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

I loved Shekinah. I really enjoyed the characters and I actually wished the film had been longer. I also felt I learned a lot. Good job. Congratulations.


Thursday, November 14, 2013


Just came back from Cinema du Parc.

Really was moved by the film, the editing, the music, the narrative and most of all, the women. From Chanie to all of the younger girls at the seminary joyful, beautiful, human and real… The film does a wonderful job of breaking down prejudice and stereotypical perceptions.

Congratulations… an authentic documentary and a Mitzvah as well.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Hi Abbey and Irene,

I saw Shekinah last week and absolutely loved it. Beautiful filmmaking in every way. The characters are remarkable — the young British woman (Anna Stern?) just blew me away. And Chanie is a wonder. Also provocative. Even though that world is not unfamiliar to me, there was so much food for thought… about how woman are raised to feel about themselves, about how we live in the world with a sense of awe, about our culture’s relationship with sexuality. About the importance and richness of community. That community is doing such important bridge building work and the young women are so self-assured. I took a non-Jewish friend from France who was deeply affected and plans to see it again. Thank you for putting this into the world!

See you soon,

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Hi Irene and Abbey,

I just wanted to send you a belated congratulations on your amazing film. I was thrilled to see such lineups outside the theatre! It was exciting to get a glimpse into such a hidden world. Fascinating. I would love to know the broadcast schedule — lots of folks I have told about the film (who could not make the screenings) would love to check it out, so please keep me in the loop.

Take care,

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Bravo felicitation to you my dear principal its amazing what you just have done.


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Just out of Shekinah…

My favorite moments:
-What a gem, to have found the older secular Jewish woman. What a gal! And a great counterpoint to the storyline. “If the Messiah didn’t come for the Holocaust, let him stay where he is”! I lived her. Amazing.

-The “dream sequence” of the baby in the stroller in the midst of the revelries. It landed me in the middle of the awareness of the formative dream in which we all live. How we and our cultures and our lives contribute to the formation of that which we perceive or call reality.

-At the end of the conversation between the unmarried 26 and her newly married friend. The shots of each of their thoughtful silences I could hear the gears in their brains turning, wondering, examining. Both uncertain in their various degrees of certainty. I absolutely loved the space you gave that moment.

-The generally proactive approach of Mrs Carlebach to her community, striving to shine a little light; to me an admirable approach. In particular, more than the community outreach of giving the apples to hopefully de-mystify themselves, normalizing themselves in the perception of the St Agathe community, I found the meeting of high school girls at school to be both beautiful, hopeful and, more, very thought provoking.

In this sense; it posed questions. Both about people’s preconceived notions but more, about individual and group values. I’m thinking of the gay question. And I’ll refer back to this In a moment.

-The closing scene, the interview w (another gem) your young “movie star”. Her beautiful idealism and optimism coupled with what I tend to think of as an almost tragic naïveté…her (in my view) limited dream or image of herself, and possibly life-goal, as a breeder of a dozen babies. Coupled w the non-confrontation or examination of other issues: ie, what about the fact that there always have been and are likely to always be gay people? Or people who would espouse relationships that are loving (or whatever kind they want) that don’t revolve around having a dozen babies?

I’m not arguing for or advocating anything in particular other than how specific systems such as these or most spiritual movements I have encountered still tend to put such things in the forbidden zone. “It’s not natural” or “It goes against nature”. I heard one or both of those things spoken, quickly, without thought or consideration, out of hand. And it sounded like most other dismissal of those ones among us that exist throughout most of our societies. By these young women and most everywhere else where people and their values are “under attack”. (I spent the last 2 wks driving around US Midwest, and there is a frightening world of (or a world of frightened) Christianists who see the world of values in these terms. Terms of threat and judgements.

Anyway, that is my critique of those values, not of your film. In fact, as I said w the thoughtful pause of the 2 women, and the closing sequence of the lovely young woman…both revealed to me some hesitations, some uncertainties of issues un-examined, of ideas and possibilities not quite thought of.

In a sense I felt perhaps a bit negatively about the whole Hasidic movement as a result of  these several women; being so very bright and alive in the contemporary world, yet so almost blissfully unaware of other dimensions in life, of other people, perhaps different, or outside their exclusive group, yet so near them. And if these young women were also allowed into non-Jewish coffee shops or use of social media, they would be more likely to encounter such issues. I’m sure I’m not the first person to think that. (To be fair, in any type of seminary has this built in feature to separate oneself from would be the influences of outside world).

On a different note, I was meaningfully informed about the very spiritual nature of the tenets of this system.

“To infuse every moment with the eternal presence of God”.

Whatever ones concept of that presence might be…as you offered, the idea of being involved in the pursuit of mindfulness could be one version of that thing which I have taken to calling the Great Big Love. To me that concept leaves open an avenue to how an agnostic or an atheist approaches the concept of the divine or spiritual.

Also, at many times I was listening with interest or agreement to the main Rabbi who said the above quote. His description of the idea of spiritual pursuit in every aspect or moment of life echoed my own.

Rather than, as one rabbi said, the spiritual and the animal…

I personally tend to think of it as the spiritual and the material. But primarily the same duality.

Like all good documentaries, this one landed for me and piqued thought and interest on many levels.

It was lovely to watch. Transporting in that way good cinema has.

I loved how you kept other issues generally out of the way. Zionism.

Larger political issues. (I would have found it so beautiful if members of the St-Agathe goyim-pur laine society had shown up to help wash away the graffiti… again I was made to think… which is the more frightening, to say that that graffiti was… thoughtless? Or actually considered)?

Or her husband! I wondered about him, about THEIR relationship. And I suppose you could easily have gone there. But for whatever way your process and considerations went on this, I loved the way you kept the focus on-task. (Though I suppose a case could have been made to include that as an aspect. And one day hopefully I’ll have a chance to ask you, Abbey, about those choices).

See, the inclusion of him… I’d wanna know about HIS work. And did it keep HIM away from the duties of family and kids as she referred to his occasional complaint on her. Oh yea, women’s work and all that.

That almost seems like another conversation. Interesting choice for you, tho, as I imagine it.

As I write this and the film still resonates, I go back to that meeting of the gals at the high school. It stays. It intrigues. What is it about a system that is absolute that has always bothered me? It’s like a conversation between a creationist and a person who prefers scientific method.

One is capable of change, of new knowledge and adjusting what we think we know based in thought and logic.

One final thought; the cynic in me, or maybe just the thinking, inquiring, curious person in me still and always questions the thought processes (or maybe even sanity) of folks who end up somehow believing that God (read THEIR own exclusive group god) wants them or anyone, to wear a certain kind of hat?!

Every Jew, every Muslim, Jane, Hindu, Mennonite, Amish, Sikh, Rajneesh… what the fuck is up with that “No other cat wears a hat like that”! business?

But that’s just my own personal bewilderment.

Thank you both for your continued work. Artists with a thirst for knowledge, an eye for both ideas and beauty, and masterful storytellers in the visual medium.

It is wonderful what you do and how you create these thought-provoking journeys.


By the way, Abbey’s humble and self-effacing, yet honest and forthcoming manner, down to and including his tone of voice set up the intimacy and accessibility of this movie. For Jew and non-, alike. I like his Zen. (I mean that in both ways)!