Thanks to the Jews of San Francisco, I have a new role: just call me Moses

It is time, my children, that you learned to tell a Passion from a Beating, and the Holy Spirit from a Good Body
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The Independent Online

Just back from the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival where they've been showing a film I made for television years ago. Nice to be resurrected.

Just back from the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival where they've been showing a film I made for television years ago. Nice to be resurrected.

And nice to see one's name in lights, to say nothing of one's person on a screen, 10 times larger than life. Can go to your head that sort of thing. Much more of it and I'll be snorting coke, picking up hookers and wearing a Kabbala bracelet.

Quite what the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival was doing unearthing my telly juvenilia I'm not sure. Something to do with Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, whose brutal reiteration of the Jews-killed-Christ mantra has left many American Jews - to employ their locution - "hurting".

Apparently they see my film, which identifies through art and myth the necessarily anti-Jewish structure of Christianity, as a sort of antidote to that. Of course the Jews have to be shown as villains if the early Church is to distinguish itself from its Hebraic origins. We are the chrysalidal shell which must be cast aside. Beats me how saying that is going to help after all these years, but if they want me to be Moses leading my troubled people from the house of bondage (which might mean something very different in San Francisco), then Moses I am.

Since Mel Gibson is the problem, I am not sure why Christians too haven't turned to me to be the solution, allowing that the The Passion of the Christ is far more insulting to them than it is to Jews. Yes, I know that there were Christians who felt their faith strengthened by Gibson's comic-cuts version of the Gospels, but they won't be going to heaven in a hurry. As Moses I only intermittently know what's on God's mind and cannot quote him verbatim on Mel Gibson, but I can with confidence proclaim that no God worthy of our worship would deem a person spiritual who found anything holy in Gibson's ineffably moronic mix (I'd say Disneyfied except that Disney is more morally subtle) of S&M and sanctimony. A Christ that gets hit a lot - what cause for reverence is there in that? It is time, my children, that you learned to tell a Passion from a Beating, and the Holy Spirit from a Good Body.

How far my own Jewishness was strengthened by being in San Francisco I am still trying to decide. Certainly I got more than I bargained for. Jewish homosexuals, for one thing. Just between ourselves, I never believed there were Jewish homosexuals until last week. Yes, yes, I'd heard the rumours. I'd even seen some of the plays and musicals said to have been written by Jewish homosexuals. But I'd always assumed that Larry Kramer and Tony Kushner and Harvey Fierstein were pseudonyms employed by gay southern Baptists to get their work past Broadway's straight Jewish impresarios.

Seems I was wrong. Every second Jew I meet in San Francisco is homosexual. And not just accidentally or to pass the time homosexual, but root and branch, till death us do part gay. I don't use that last term lightly. Gay marriage is a big issue over here, so much so that at one event I attend - a Shabbes dinner, if you must know - a speech is made commending all those men who have married men, and all those women who have married women, for their courageous acts of civil disobedience.

Your head reels a bit, if you're conventional, at the idea of marriage (whoever it's between) as a gesture of liberation. But meanings chop and change in this part of the world. And at least it would please my devout Lithuanian great-grandmother, God rest her soul, to know that of the dozens of gay brides and bridegrooms I shake hands with in San Francisco, I didn't meet a single one, not a solitary chossen or a kalleh, who's married out.

Faigelehs, yes. Jews who hanker after Canaanites, no.

And such good parents they make, great-grandma! Here again, it takes me a while to get my bearings. "Hi, my name's Daniel and I'm the proud father of twins," a handsome boy announces before Shabbes dinner, as we, in the Californian manner, introduce ourselves to our fellow guests. A minute later, after the applause has died down, another handsome Jewish boy presents himself - "Hi, I'm Lawrence, and I'm also the proud father of twins." I nudge the person standing next to me. "What an amazing coincidence," I observe. "Someone should introduce them. They could help each other with the diapers." She smiles sweetly at me. "Someone already has introduced them," she explains. "They're married." Light dawns slowly when you're straight. "So the twins ..." "...Are the same twins, right," she says.

Up and down the Castro, where everyone is gay, men in leather shorts and built bodies push their prams. And not just the Jewish gays either.

Parenthood has spread like wildfire here. First you buy your studded codpiece, then your wedding band, then your pushchair. I am not one of those who believe that gay culture owes it to the rest of us to keep nudging the limits of the acceptable. A gay man is not the hero of transgression I cannot be for myself. If he wants a quiet life he is entitled to one. But it is strange to see homosexuals borrowing the burdens of heterosexuality - wives, husbands, babies, twins for God's sake. What next? Are gay men going to decide that what they'd really like is a woman? And when they do, where is that going to leave those of us who only ever wanted a woman in the first place? When all gays are grown straight, what do straights become?

Jews, maybe. If you're looking for a niche, I recommend it. You get pissed on by Mel Gibson, it's true, but that's a small price to pay for being invited to the San Francisco Film Festival. Be a Jew, I say, marry another Jew your own sex, have twins, it's bracing. Trust me. I'm Moses.

I've cleared it.

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