Nolan Lebovitz was recently featured in an article for The North Shore Weekend in Chicago, Illinois. The article spoke about Lebovitz, the producer of “Roadmap Genesis” being a resident of the North Shore community and his journey of becoming a major Hollywood filmmaker and latest effort producing a film that focuses on the relevance of the Bible for society today.
The article goes on to discuss the upcoming screening event scheduled in June for the film. That event will take place at Highland Park’s North Suburban Synagogue Beth El, on Sheridan Road. The event is open to everyone in the community. If you’re interested in attending, we encourage you to visit the Roadmap Genesis Facebook page and join the event scheduled there.
Francis Cardinal George, who appeared in featured clips within “Roadmap Genesis”, passed away this past Friday after a battle with cancer. His words and insight into the messages and meanings found in the book of Genesis were treasured and appreciated as we released and continue to promote the film. Unique to to his service, Francis Cardinal George, was one of the only Archbishops of Chicago that was actually born in Chicago. He was born on January 16, 1937 and passed away on April 17th, 2015 at the age of 78.
Here’s a clip of Francis Cardinal George sharing some specific insights on video that didn’t make it into the final cut of the film.
One of the central themes of the Book of Genesis is the importance of family. I am the grandchild of four Prevailers of the Shoah (Hebrew word for Holocaust). A day does not go by when I do not appreciate their strong influence on my life. Tonight begins Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day). This year, in addition to lighting a memorial candle and thinking about the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis and their European accomplices, please dedicate yourself to spending time with a Prevailer. Bring your kids and introduce them. Unfortunately, it’s a gift you will not be able to offer your children much longer. Take a picture and send it to us. The pictures will stand as testimony to how much we cherish them.
Read more of Nolan’s thoughts on the Shoah and family on this Jewish Journal post, “Never Forget – The Victims and the Prevailers“. You can also read more about the Shoah survivors and their current struggles in the two articles below:
Nolan Lebovitz was interviewed on The Phil Valentine show on Monday, March 16th. During the interview Nolan had the opportunity to talk both about the film but also about his motivations and perspective on making the film. Phil also asked Nolan about his experience as a Hollywood filmmaker, and eventually becoming a rabbi.
During the interview Phil also spoke on the different key contributors to the film like Mike Huckabee, Alan Dershowitz, Ken Ham, Erick Stakelbeck, Rabbi David Wolpe, Rabbi Brad Artson and many others.
A huge thank you to Phil and his staff for inviting us onto the show to talk about the film and share the message of the film to his audience and listeners.
The review appears on Page 22 and received a 4-out-of-5 star rating by the site. As the effort and message of the film confirms, the paragraph below from Christian St. John spoke volumes of how we believe this film is poised to empower viewers to change their world regardless of their religious backgrounds and faiths.
Although Roadmap Genesis was produced, written, and directed by a Jewish Rabbi, there is still plenty a Christian viewer can glean from this film. In fact, throughout the film scholars from both Christian and Jewish faith backgrounds are interviewed and talk about the relevance of Genesis, and The Bible in general, in today’s world.
The message shared in the stories of Genesis are a message for all of humanity, truly a roadmap for mankind.
Our Guest Author, Tara Stern, was inspired by the Roadmap Genesis project to do something more for her community. She got inspired by the verse in Genesis 4:9 and Rabbi Sharon Brous’ response to the verse in a segment of the film.
Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
As Rabbi Sharon Brous said in her video segment of the film, “YES”. Emphatically yes. We are our brother’s keeper! Here’s an example of how we hope many people are inspired to be the agent of social change that they should be in their communities and the world around them.
I’ve always believed in the importance of helping out, giving back, and teaching my kids that charity is a verb. (It requires action.) And when a volunteer opportunity came up that was convenient and a friend was planning it or it was nearby or whatever, I would absolutely take my kids and go. When nobody I knew was planning anything, I would wish they would, but I would never have stepped up and done it myself. It seemed like too much work, I wasn’t sure if anyone would actually turn up, but mostly I hated to ask people to give/do/spend on something for me. We all have so many obligations in our lives, I didn’t want to be another one for people.
But the first time I sat down and watched Roadmap Genesis, I realized just how OFF that thinking was. Trying to get out and do some good in the world is not about ME. It’s about giving people the opportunity to help out in OUR world. We all live in it, and I think most of us (most of the people I know anyways) realize how lucky we are to be able to have a little extra to give, and to be in the position where we can do just that.
So I decided to organize a “Backpacks for the Homeless” event. I’d been to one before – the idea is that we each bring an old backpack and enough of one thing (say, granola bars or new socks) to for everyone to put into their old backpacks. We lay everything out and let the kids do an assembly line of to fill the packs. Yep, kid friendly – super important. Afterwards, each person takes a pack or two with them and leaves them in their car. As they go about their lives, they can hand them out to people they see that might be able to use some help. (I found people were a little suspicious of me trying to give them the backpacks, not knowing what was really in them, so I was planning to donate all completed packs to a nearby women and children’s shelter.)
I reached out to my friends with short notice before a 3-day weekend, so nervous that no one would show that I made my close friend promise to come before I even sent out the invitation so in the worst case scenario, it wouldn’t be just me and my kids out there. Literally overnight, I ended up getting about 25 people (10 adults and somewhere in the vicinity of 15 kids) to show up, many of whom I’d never even met. We quickly coordinated needed supplies and met at a local park 2 days later.
Because of the overwhelmingly positive response, I decided to add a warm clothing drive to the event, and had several people who weren’t able to make backpacks drop off big bags of shoes, clothes and blankets.
Ultimately, we filled 20 backpacks with food, toiletries, water, etc. that I took to the shelter – and another 20-30 gallon-sized ZipLock bags filled with the leftover supplies. We could each take some to leave in our cars to give out – and the people receiving them can see through the clear bag to exactly what is in there, and seem much more comfortable taking them. The impromptu clothing drive yielded 5-10 garbage bags full of clothing that went directly to the shelter to be handed out as needed.
I took my two young daughters (ages 4 and 7) with me to the shelter when we made our donations. (We had to go twice because my big SUV was packed so full.) I had talked to the coordinator there, and she gave us a tour of the facilities. It was definitely an educational experience for my girls, who have about a zillion toys in their own big bedrooms, to see kids living barracks-style with their parents, 20 people in bunk beds in a room and the luckier ones get to live on the residential side where 2 families share a room not much bigger than a walk-in closet. It sparked some thoughtful conversations about gratitude and giving, and gave them some perspective on just how lucky they are.
Everyone who came out that day found the experience incredibly fulfilling, and a great way to get our kids involved in helping out. Several have asked me when I was planning the next one, and for the first time I find myself on the other side of that equation. I don’t have to sit around anymore wishing someone else would plan something. I get how important it is to get out there and do it myself – and I’m already thinking about the next one.
Guest Author, Tara Stern
Tara is the wife of David Stern, and an Executive Producer on the film. After being inspired by the Roadmap Genesis project she was inspired to start creating and carrying around “Blessing Bags” with her in her car. Basically a gallon ziplock bag with basic necessities: toothbrush, toothpaste, wet wipes, granola bars, small pad of paper, pen, small bottle of water, etc. When she sees a homeless person, she shows them the bag and asks if they would like one. Since they are transparent, the person can see what is being offered and can accept or decline. She’s found that most accept.
Erick Stakelbeck, is the host of the weekly CBN program “The Watchman with Erick Stakelbeck”. He shares his thoughts on the Book of Genesis and specifically relates to how we can see God all around us in creation. Perhaps the most moving imagery of God is when we experience and see the miracle of birth.
Watch the video to hear more of Erick’s thoughts on Genesis and the film, “Roadmap Genesis”.
Today’s post is from guest author, Pastor Rob Rynders:
Perhaps my favorite passage in the Book of Genesis is from chapter 32, the story of Jacob wrestling with God:
22 The same night he got up and took his two wives, his two maids, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23He took them and sent them across the stream, and likewise everything that he had. 24Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. 25When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket; and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. 26Then he said, ‘Let me go, for the day is breaking.’ But Jacob said, ‘I will not let you go, unless you bless me.’ 27So he said to him, ‘What is your name?’ And he said, ‘Jacob.’ 28Then the man* said, ‘You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel,* for you have striven with God and with humans,* and have prevailed.’ 29Then Jacob asked him, ‘Please tell me your name.’ But he said, ‘Why is it that you ask my name?’ And there he blessed him.
I resonate so strongly with this passage becuase my own relationship with God has been one of struggle. When times are good it’s easy to know God as a loving and compassionate God. When things are difficult, though, it can be hard to simply say that “this is all part of God’s plan.”
I believe that we humans have an immense amount of freedom and choice in this world. I believe God’s plan is for us to be loving and compassionate beings,to be in loving relationship with God and with one another. Sometimes, though, I just want to tell God what a pipe dream that really is. Some days I want to yell at God and some days I wouldn’t mind getting an opportunity to grab a hold of and shake God while screaming “what’s the point of all this?”
That’s why this passage means so much to me, because it tells us that God is a God who can not only handle our anger, dissapointment, questioning, and confusion, but God indeed encourages it – “for you have striven with God and with humans, and prevailed. Then Jacob asked him, ‘Please tell me your name.’ But he said, ‘Why is it that you ask my name?’ And there he blessed him.”
Life is not about being perfect, not about not being disappointed, or about never suffering of going through a hard time. It’s about the lessons we learn from those times and how we respond to them. It’s about knowing that God walks with us during those times and that God is there to blame if we need someone to blame, not because God causes pain and suffering, but because God suffers alongside of us. It’s also about knowing that God won’t hesitate to push back and remind us that sometimes we’re our own worst enemy.
I don’t have all the answers and I don’t have the perfect relationship with God, but I do know that God is there to struggle with us and help us move forward. For that I am thankful.
Guest Author, Pastor Rob Rynders
Rob is the co-founder and current co-pastor of City Square Church, a new and innovative United Methodist faith community in downtown Phoenix. As a networker, speaker, husband and father, he leads others in spiritual formation, building community, and developing critical thinking skills. Rob uses technology and social media to bring others together around new, innovative and creative ideas that aim to make our communities and the world a better place. You can connect with Rob at his website or on social media using the icons below
I have spent much of the last two years writing, directing and producing a faith based documentary called “Roadmap Genesis.” It is a film that makes the case that the Book of Genesis is a roadmap containing guideposts on how to live a productive, fruitful, and fulfilling life that will help our society lift itself out of its current decline and return it to prosperity, promise, and accomplishment. I traveled around the country and discussed Genesis with twenty six people ranging from Gov. Mike Huckabee of Fox News Channel to Rabbi David Wolpe, from Alan Dershowitz to the Archbishop of Chicago Francis Cardinal George, from Erick Stakelbeck of the Christian Broadcasting Network to Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum, and many, many more.
DVD’s are now available through the website www.RoadmapGenesis.com and iTunes downloads will be available at the beginning of 2015. We have already begun to license the film for communal Church and Synagogue screenings. And now that I stand on the precipice of the film’s release, I thought I should share a few words.
This is not the end of the journey, rather just the beginning. People have to actually see the film, watch it in community and download it on their iPads. The movie can connect us to one another. It can start a dialogue – between parents and children, Jews and Christians, neighbors and friends. In today’s fragmented society, we can transcend our boundaries.
Too often, I hear conversations about how Jews and Christians today are having trouble relating to the Judaism and Christianity of their parents and grandparents. And I think – that’s great! We don’t wear the clothes our grandparents wore. We don’t listen to the music they listened. And on a personal note, I am grateful that I don’t live in Lodz or the Carpathian Mountains like my grandparents did. I am proud to be an American living in 2014 (soon to be 2015)!
The bigger question is when will younger Jews and Christians take ownership of something new and make it their newer, younger religious outlook? I hope that it’s today. I hope that “Roadmap Genesis” offers a path to open dialogue, not only between faiths, but also within our own family. People of all ages and denominations and associations are not only represented in the movie but also can use the movie to begin a dialogue to rededicate ourselves to the everlasting words of the Bible.
And that is why I wanted to start “In the beginning…” Let us begin anew together as one family proud of the Judeo-Christian ethic upon which our country was founded, proud of our shared commonalities and of our diversities, and proud that we derive meaning from the Bible.
Thank you to my wife and children who appear in the movie and have put up with my crazy schedule while I filmed, edited (here and in Israel) and attended countless meetings. Thanks to my parents and family who have helped me throughout the process. Thanks to my teachers and friends who sat down with me on camera and also helped me connect with people throughout the world. To one and all thank you.
From my family to yours, Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukah and may 2015 be a year of blessed new beginnings for all of us.