Shalom Taiwan is a real heartwarmer. A rabbi’s temple is about to be foreclosed on in the latest financial crisis, and his usual round of donation-pleading to wealthy Americans falls on deaf ears, as they too feel the pinch. In his desperation, he follows a connection to Taiwan, where he tries everything to raise the funds needed.
I love that Rabbi Aaron is clearly a sincere man, wanting to do good, but there’s also a streak of ego which has found its way in, and contributed to this downfall. He’s clearly trying to live up to the reputation of the last rabbi, and has overextended the temple financially to do so. And everywhere he goes, he talks about what the temple does for the community, how it supports the community, how it holds together the community. But when it comes to saving the temple, he feels it is all on him. It shows a huge amount of sincere devotion and sense of responsibility, but also a conceit, that he alone holds up the temple. If the temple belongs to the community, why not let the community save it?
I love it because it is such a realistic and human flaw. And his journey to Taiwan makes him realise his mistakes. That there are more important things than money. That a community is a community whether it is in a upscale building or a one-room shack. That home is the place you put your priorities.
I was a bit worried going into it that the film might be a bit, you know, Live Laugh Love. But it manages not to stray too far into that territory, showing travel as a nourishing and transformative experience, without getting icky objectification vibes.
With a nice dusting of humour over it, Shalom Taiwan is just a simple and uplifting morality tale.