Two years ago, Sandi DuBowski’s groundbreaking documentary Trembling Before G-d, a searing look at what it means to be homosexual in the Orthodox and Hasidic worlds, hit the theatres. Since then, DuBowski has traveled around the country, showing his film to audiences in theatres and synagogues, some of them Orthodox. For the first time, homosexuality, formerly a forbidden subject in the Orthodox world, was being openly discussed. In October, Trembling was released on DVD, which DuBowski calls an “almost sequel” to the original. It contains additional footage on, in DuBowski’s words, “all the reaction sand life changes” that have resulted. For example, Leah, an Orthodox Jew, says how proud she is now to be out of the closet, and while Leah’s partner, Malka, uses a pseudonym and won’t show her face on camera, she nonetheless says that Trembling has enabled her for the first time to communicate with her relatives. We also see the transformation of the once obese Michelle, a Hasidic lesbian who, after leaving her husband and community, has now shed over 100 pounds and stands triumphantly before an audience.
“The women literally step out of the shadows,” said DuBowski. “It’s the phenomenon of the women of Trembling. They move from the closet to visibility, from fear to empowerment.”