The Rabbi Goes West

Dirs. Amy GellerGerald Peary | 78 min
Documentary USA 2019

Yes, there are Jews in Montana!

There’s an evangelical strand of Hasidic Judaism – Chabad-Lubavitch – spreading across the world. The Rabbi Goes West focuses on one Chabad rabbi, 34-year-old Chaim Bruk, who moved from Brooklyn to unlikely Bozeman, Montana, to bring his brand of Judaism to the American West. Part of his Chabad mission is to place a mezuzah, an encased prayer offering, on the doorpost of every Montana Jew. That’s less than 2,000 families spread across a state fourteen times larger than Israel.

As he travels across this “big sky” landscape, Chaim confronts a terrifying neo-Nazi threat and faces objections to his proselytizing from some skeptical Jews and the state’s Reform and Conservative rabbis. While they acknowledge that he is beloved by his congregants, they fear his larger goal to put up Chabad centers everywhere in Montana. Will Chaim succeed in his Chabad expansion? And is there a cost?

Film rental includes a recorded conversation with co-director and producer Amy Geller, and co-director and writer Gerald Peary, which will automatically play after the film.

Presented in partnership with the Capital Jewish Museum.


Amy Geller‘s award-winning productions—PBS’s The War That Made America (2005), For the Love of Movies (2009), and The Guys Next Door (2016, WJFF)—have been broadcast and screened at prestigious film festivals around the world. She served as the Artistic Director of the Boston Jewish Film Festival and teaches production courses at Boston University.

Gerry Peary is the writer-director of two acclaimed feature documentaries, For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism (2009) and Archie’s Betty (2015) both of which played at film festivals, museums, universities, and were televised on WGBH-Boston. He was a veteran film critic for The Boston Phoenix and acted in the 2013 feature film, Computer Chess, which premiered at Sundance. Currently, he writes reviews for the website, The Arts Fuse and is the programmer of the Boston University Cinematheque.



Film rentals are $11 per household ($9.50 for the film and $1.50 additional platform fee). All programs are accessible through Eventive, JxJ’s virtual cinema platform. For unlimited access to all JxJ Festival events, purchase a JxJ All Access Pass ($90 with no additional fees).


Watch on Eventive