My Tree

My Tree ★★★★½

There's an earnest sweetness to the question that kicks off the action of this documentary - like so many Jewish children going through the rite of passage of B'nai Mitzvah, a young Jason Sherman received a piece of paper saying a tree has been planted in Israel in his name - an act presented as a universal good, a part of beautifying the desert and making the country a better place to live for everyone. It's almost a point of pride - it certainly felt that way to me when I received the same gift as a thirteen year old.

Sherman maintains that air of simple curiosity and almost innocence even as the documentary begins to unravel, revealing a nefarious and insidious truth behind all these trees planted in the names of young Jewish people all over the world, paid for by well-meaning parents and grandparents. This open curiosity serves the subject matter well, deftly navigating the tense political and human rights debacle that is the modern state of Israel by asking simple questions and boiling down the issues to their most fundamental components with an understanding that the past is done, the trees are planted and the forests have grown. What matter is what happens next, and what our responsibility is to ensure that past wrongs do not continue to perpetuate, and that restorative justice is delivered.

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