Dublin Core




feminist, lesbian, Jewish, experimental documentary, family,


Gift from filmmaker. Alisa is a longtime friend and collaborator who I met making AIDS activist video. We co-authored the Blackwell Anthology on Contemporary Documentary together many years later, and recently co-penned the manifesto "Beyond Story" for World Records. I still teach with this documentary because of its playful mixture of approaches to identity in both form and content. It still teaches great! Cynthia Madansky recently desgined the cover of my book of poems, My Phone Lies to Me.

TREYF —“unkosher” in Yiddish— is an unorthodox documentary by and about two Jewish lesbians who met and fell in love at a Passover “seder”. With personal narration, real and imagined educational films, and haunting imagery, filmmakers Alisa Lebow and Cynthia Madansky examine the Jewish identity of their upbringings and its impact on their lives. Incisive cultural critics, astute, poignant, and poetic—never cynical—they weave their way from New York to Jerusalem in pursuit of a progressive, secular Jewish identity that draws from their childhood reminiscences as much as from their contemporary queer lives. As referenced in Alisa Lebow’s book First Person Jewish, TREYF is iconoclastic and intelligent, humorous and poignant, a personal journey from kibbutz summers to coming out, from keeping kosher to “Bat Mitzvahs.” A reflection on culture, community, and individual desire, this witty film follows the filmmakers as they discover what they thought was most profoundly “treyf” about their worldviews still has roots in Jewish history.



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Cynthia Madansky and Alisa Lebow




“Treyf,” VHS Activism Archive , accessed July 18, 2024,