“A Stranger Among Us,” is a film directed by Sidney Lumet. While watching this film, you must attempt to believe Melanie Griffith plays Emily Eden, a street smart police in New York City. The detective keeps making remarks such as “you will not believe the things that I have seen” or “we were putting down some perps, and one of them struck him with a blade.” In her line of duty, it is necessary that Emily goes to Brooklyn and infiltrate the Hasidic Jewish community, which is the real focus of this film. She has to change her hair, and her wardrobe, and she is given endless pointers about this group and its customs. This is to enable her complete her assignment and catch the killer.
The main perspective brought in the film is the significance of Emily to attract the attention of a spiritual leader’s son, a young modest, and devout man by the name of Ariel (Eric Thal). He is Jewish learning what Mozart is to music. He is also to succeed his father in the future. Another perspective brought out is the uncertainty of the forbidden romance that promises to spring up between Emily and Ariel.
The world of Hasidim in Borough Park, an urban ethnic neighborhood is less exotic compared to the Amish in rural Pennsylvania. This film guides the audience through Hasidic life. Hasidic characters are vividly rendered, diminished by their way of overflowing generosity, making each one wiser and kind. Emily exclaims in surprise “you people really care about each other.”
Emily Eden learns a lot from the Hasidic culture. She goes on to discover the rosy vision of Hasidic life, she finds herself getting touched by the warm ancient culture of Hasidism. These warm traditions are depicted interestingly and vaguely exotic at length. The film explores almost everything from making their own bread, baking for the Sabbath, a feast to a funeral, to other customs such as the number of knots on a prayer shawl. Emily discovers all these traditions through Ariel and his reserved sister who offer every little bit of information whenever possible. In the end, Emily realizes that under all the fierce properties she shares similar passions and miseries with the Hasidic community.
There are several mistakes that the detective makes. She becomes less interested in solving the crime and more interested in the spiritual dynamism of the Hasidic community. Her soul is stirred by her experience with these people. She also falls in love with the adopted son of the Rabbi. She also gets close to the patriarchal Rabbai, who makes her start seconding guessing herself on other things like her unsatisfying love life. She asks herself questions like does she need to settle down, find a soul mate and start a family? All these shift her focus from finding the criminal to the murderer. She also goes after a mob without calling for a backup, which she also does in the opening scene when her partner is stabbed.
There is a lesson from watching this film in class. It displays the dissimilar aspects of ethnicity, and how different groups of people interact and adapt to each other’s differences. Learning about ethnic groups in class has made me realize that Hasidism life is different from the mainstream American culture. The community is close and tight-knit. Another difference is the extent to which men and women are supposed to live in different spheres. Emily is forced to cover herself; she is not allowed to show any skin. The men are also not allowed to cut their hair in the same spot. Overall there is a high degree of rituals and religion that the Hasidic have to observe almost every day. This means that people are different, but we all have to adapt and respect other people’s beliefs, religions,s and traditions as they would respect ours.