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A Father Selected to End His Life at 92. His Daughter Hit Record.


“It is a big shift for the Reform movement,” Rachel said.

A remarkable moment occurs within the film when Rachel ministers the confessional prayer, the vidui, at Eli’s bedside. It’s a moment of revelation and acceptance, allowing a dying person to rid himself of regrets and the perceived wrongdoings he committed during his life. Rachel knew her father carried quite a lot of shame, primarily over his inability to supply for his family financially, but she was still stunned by his level of regret. Within the film he calls himself a schmuck. He believes himself to be a failure yet finally, with two days to live, we witness him let go of the shame and see his life from a special perspective.

“Now, I would like so many individuals to see this movie,” Rachel said. “What about all of the individuals who might see it and think, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m also walking around beating myself up because I don’t have enough ‘price’ when actually I even have inalienable, inherent, God-given price.’ If people get that from this film, then I don’t have any reservations anymore. I would like people to see it and feel that for themselves and never should wait until the last day of their lives.”

The Timoner clan gathered in Telluride to rejoice the film and to rejoice their father. At a dining room table of their rental house above the mountain town, the brood began discussing the afterlife. Jews, Rachel explained, don’t imagine in hell, but they do imagine in Olam Haba, which translates to “a world after death.” To this family, there isn’t any query that Eli continues to be present and that the film has made his presence even larger, because now, in accordance with them, he lives contained in the audience, too.

As a fitting end to this emotional journey, Rachel officiated at the marriage of Ondi and her partner, Morgan Doctor, the composer of the film, mere hours after our interview ended. In an email sent two weeks after the large day, Ondi reaffirmed her belief.

“I did feel Dad smiling across the sky after we were standing within the meadow and Rachel was marrying us.”

Audio producer by Tally Abecassis.

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