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Author Topic: The Shivah - Ending and Thoughts (Spoilers)  (Read 7559 times)

Offline Jachra

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The Shivah - Ending and Thoughts (Spoilers)
« on: July 29, 2014, 04:50:17 AM »
So I managed to finish it after putting it aside for a couple weeks, and I have to say I liked it quite a bit. It's short, but sweet.

One thing that troubles me, though, is how at the end you've got Rabbi Zelig pinned up against the balcony ledge and the question gets down to how Rabbi Stone has failed to make concessions – and, rather than admit any fault of his own, Rabbi Stone blindly defends his decision not to perform an inter-faith marriage.

Though I am aware that Stone's a conservative Rabbi (or is he an Orthodox? I read "no" from his dress and personal hygiene choices), it seems to me that this directly contradicts the contrition he displayed towards Rajsheer in the eponymous Shivah near the start of the game, and then later in his emotional breakdown upon discovering Rabbi Zelig's note in the apartment. Indeed, it seems almost as if he's refusing to accept any responsibility for driving Jack Lauder out of his congregation at all.

I of course understand that the views held by many conservative Jews that marriage to a shikse represents an existential threat to the Jewish people (given the predominant matrilineal cultural identification), and the broader themes of betrayal of the Jewish community as symbolized by Rabbi Zelig, but it seemed to me that the game was building towards Rabbi Stone coming to terms with his action as a moral and ethical failing, particularly when it shows Rajsheer coming to services after Stone's recovery.

I suppose to be fair that I, as a non-religious, non-Jewish person, may simply be projecting my particular bias of inclusive liberalization as part of the moral arc of the human race where it doesn't belong. After all, to a truly conservative Jewish person, preserving intrafaith marriages and discouraging interfaith ones may be viewed as a moral good and therefore Rabbi Stone's defense of it at the balcony represents a triumph, his overcoming his doubt to contrast him against the slimy, treacherous Zelig who compromises everything to get ahead. If that was the intent, then I can at least give it credit for taking a controversial stance in today's world and having the conviction to see it through, even if I personally view it as morally reprehensible (and I'd like to compare it to this news item, the whole "Jews should only marry Jews" thing is a disturbing bit of institutionalized racism/ethnicism that is really quite vile to a lot of people, including many Jews.)

Even with that caveat, though, it still bothers me that Rabbi Stone seems to forget that powerful moment in the apartment where he wished Jack all the happiness in the world while feeling that his duty as a Rabbi forced Stone to ostracize him. Where's the capitalization on this vital moment of storytelling? It's a deeply emotional moment that just seems ignored going forward.


I will say that it gives me some hope for the seemingly forgotten sequel. You mentioned in an earlier thread that you wanted to get into synagogue politics, and I think that's an excellent direction to go.

More importantly, though, I think it gives a chance to address some of the deeper questions of identity, morality, philosophy, politics, and obligation that were touched on here and which demand an examination of greater depth and complexity. Rabbi Stone begins his journey a broken, beaten man who had almost given up life, and he ends it with a measure of hope, but with no real resolution. We might argue, and fairly so, that the world is never kind enough to let us resolve those deeper issues, but I say that there's plenty of room to grow, and even if you can't solve the world's problems, you can take a fair swing at unraveling your own.

Hopefully, the re-release of this game in Kosher Edition gives a glimmer of hope to that possible future.

Shalom, Dave Gilbert and everyone who put their sweat and hard work into this.
« Last Edit: August 18, 2014, 11:10:18 AM by Jachra »