Mitzvahs At The Cannes Film Festival

by B. Olidort - CANNES, FRANCE

May 19, 2004

It’s all glitz and glamour at the Cannes Film Festival where the red carpet is rolled out for purveyors of the imaginary. Yet even here, where success is often measured by how well the fantasies depicted on the big screen displace reality, more than a few of the film moguls have taken some time to do a mitzvah.

Scores of international guests dined al-fresco with Chabad at a kosher Shabbat dinner set up under a tent, on the beach. Candle-lighting, Kiddush and inspirational Shabbat melodies led by Rabbi Mendel Matusof created a meaningful contrast to a milieu that is decidedly materialistic.

Rabbi Matusof, whose parents are the Chabad-Lubavitch representatives to Cannes, says that the guests “seemed grateful for the opportunity to observe a traditional Shabbat.” Among them were screenwriter David N. Weiss (Shrek, Rugrats) from Los Angeles, and prize-winning filmmaker Eddie Tamir from Australia.

But the Festival is more than a week long, and while many of the guests have made their way to the Chabad House, Rabbi Matusof has positioned his mitzvah vehicle to generate as many mitzvahs as possible. With access to La Croissette, the main road in Cannes which is closed for the Festival to all traffic with few exceptions, the Chabad car literally delivers the goods to the guests, many of whom have been wrapping tefillin every morning thus far.

“Many of the people who’ve stopped by to put on tefillin are from Israel and the United States,” says Rabbi Matusof.

They need to come to Cannes to wrap tefillin?

“Why not?” says Rabbi Matusof. In true Chabad-Lubavitch spirit, he adds, “If you are Jewish, you’ve got to live Jewishly wherever you are.”

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