My big, fat, Jewish-Kurdish wedding? / 22 July 2007

By Tom Tugend *

Nice Jewish boy in Brooklyn dumps domineering Jewish
fiancée when he falls for lovely Kurdish Muslim girl.
Parents and relatives on both sides are horrified, but are
reconciled at raucous interfaith wedding.

That, in a thimble, is the plotline of David & Layla, the
umpteenth updated version of Romeo and Juliet, or, if you
will, Abie's Irish Rose. (Why is it almost always Jewish boy
and shiksa and not Jewish girl and guy, but never mind.)

What saves the film from triteness is the loving insight it
provides into the joys and sufferings of the Kurdish people.
The Kurds, like another Near Eastern tribe whose name
slips my mind, seem to have been handpicked by their
deity for endless miseries, but defiantly preserve their
humor and high spirits.

The main purveyor of high spirits is Layla, who moonlights as an exotic but chaste
nightclub dancer, while awaiting deportation as an illegal immigrant. Portrayed by Shiva
Rose, a smashing beauty of mixed Irish and Persian parentage, one wonders what she
sees in the rather nebbishe David (David Moscow), but go figure love.

David's parents fall somewhat short of the Jewish ideal. Despite his many infirmities,
father Mel pursues rather weird sexual adventures, at home and away. Mother Judith may
be the last Jewish maternal stereotype who, when informed that a friend's son has an
Oedipus complex, utters, "Oedipus, Schmodipus, as long as he loves his mother."

That one must date back to the time some Viennese wit told it to Sigmund Freud for the
first time.

    Of course, the path to the altar is not without obstacles. We
    won't talk about David's vasectomy, which he underwent at
    the urging of his ex-fiancée, but we have to face the sensitive
    issue of conversion,

    Who of the two should convert to the other's faith? Layla
    makes the, I guess, sensible point that if she converts "I have
to jump into a pool and follow 613 laws," while all David has to do is repeat once "Allah is
God and Mohammed is his prophet."

Fortunately, since David has already been circumcised, that problem is out of the way.
All such niggling aside, if the goal of Jay Jonroy, the film's writer, director and producer,
was to give Americans a glimpse into the lives of his fellow Kurds in a painless lesson, he
has done the job.

Jonroy is a Kurdish refugee from northern Iraq, who fled the murderous regime of Saddam
Hussein, some of whose atrocities are briefly depicted in the movie.

In their religion, Kurds practice a form of Islam lite,
which Jonroy compares to Conservative/Reform
Judaism vis-à-vis Orthodoxy.

In many other respects, judging from David & Layla,
Kurds are not unlike Jews in their hospitality, love of
food, vigorous wedding dancing, and various

Scattered throughout the countries of the Near and
Middle East, distrusted everywhere, some 35 million Kurds have longed for centuries to
establish their own country, but it remains a far-off dream.

David & Layla opens July 20 in the US. Release dates have yet to be announced here. For
additional background on the film, visit

Source: / Jerusalem Post Jul. 18, 2007