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Friday Five: Ole Bornedal, Oded Gershon, Orly Erez-Lahovsky, Asher Lopatin, Meir Soloveichik

Ole Bornedal, director of "The Possession," a film based on the Dybbuk. ()

Ole Bornedal, director of “The Possession,” a film based on the Dybbuk. ()

Ole Bornedal’s not afraid

Ole Bornedal promises he’s not afraid of dybbuks – the malevolent legendary spirit from 16th-century Jewish mysticism and folklore. But the director of “The Possession,” which opens on Friday, has buried in his backyard a mysterious box with the word “Shema” on its cover and containing a ring of unknown origins. The film is based on a novel about that box. Oh, and one day all the neon light fixtures exploded on the movie set. On another day, shortly after the film wrapped, a fire destroyed all the props. Creepiness aside, Bornedal and his crew have brought to life the entity famously featured in S. Ansky’s iconic book “The Dybbuk.” The eerie film places the story in a present-day suburban setting, features Kyra Sedgwick and marks the big-screen debut of Matisyahu. Despite it all, Bornedal still insists: “I’m not superstitious.”

Judging Rachel Corrie

When Haifa district court judge Oded Gershon found for the defense in the lawsuit Rachel Corrie’s parents brought against Israel in the killing of their daughter by an IDF bulldozer in 2003, Corrie supporters decried the verdict as evidence that the Israeli judiciary is complicit in a corrupt system designed to maintain the “occupation.” But others hailed the decision as a triumph of justice and truth over a propaganda campaign designed to turn what was an accident into a crime. What’s certain is that nine years on, Corrie’s status as a martyr for the pro-Palestinian movement – at the time she was killed, Corrie, an activist with the International Solidarity Movement, was protesting Israel’s presence in Gaza – is secure.

Orly Erez-Lahovsky: I am woman. Hear me roar.

If women’s images can’t appear on Jerusalem’s buses, Orly Erez-Lahovsky hopes at least that their voices can be heard on the radio. Erez-Lahovsky filed a $26 million class-action suit this week on behalf of Kolech, a religious women’s group in Jerusalem, against haredi Orthodox radio station Kol Berama for not hiring women as broadcasters or allowing them to be interviewed on air (Kol Berama now reportedly says it will give women at least four hours per week on air). The suit comes after Israel’s Transport Ministry declared last month that it would not fund transportation operators who discriminate against women in advertising. Until then, Jerusalem’s public Egged buses did not run ads showing women in deference to haredi sensitivities. Now Egged has decided that, to avoid controversy, neither men nor women will appear in bus ads.

Asher Lopatin’s open Orthodoxy

In tapping Rabbi Asher Lopatin to be the next head of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, the rabbinical school Rabbi Avi Weiss started 12 years ago as a liberal alternative to Yeshiva University’s seminary, YCT will be entering a new phase with its first leadership transition. Lopatin seems to be a safe choice for the school’s “open Orthodox” ethos: The congregation he has led in Chicago for the last 18 years, Anshe Sholom B’nai Israel, espouses the same inclusive approach Weiss champions at YCT. The open question is whether Lopatin will fare any better than Weiss in getting mainstream Orthodoxy to treat YCT as an asset rather than as a threat. So far, the main Modern Orthodox rabbinic group, the Rabbinical Council of America, has refused to recognize YCT ordinations.

Meir Soloveichik prays with the GOP

The Republican National Convention kicked off Tuesday with a little bit of Hebrew as Rabbi Meir Soloveichik delivered an invocation to launch the first full day of proceedings. Soloveichik, the director of the Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought at Yeshiva University and an associate rabbi at Kehillath Jeshurun on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, hails from America’s most illustrious Modern Orthodox rabbinic family. He also is a rising star in his own right, reportedly a leading candidate to replace Rabbi Jonathan Sacks as Britain’s next chief rabbi. A frequent contributor to Commentary, Soloveichik has joined with other religious conservatives to oppose abortion and the Obama administration’s birth control coverage mandate.

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