Chasid’s ‘Sacred Sperm’ film causes stir


The Chasid who made a film about masturbation has said that he was caught off-guard by the massive interest that it generated.

“I’m surprised because I didn’t realise that it would interest people around the world,” said Ori Gruder.

When Mr Gruder left his secular lifestyle and became Chasidic 13 years ago, aged 30, one of the hardest things to absorb was the depth and strictness of his new community’s ban on masturbation. Now the father of a 10-year-old boy, he made his film, Sacred Sperm, as he grappled with the need to raise the subject with his son.

“I think it’s a way to deal with the problems — it’s an educational film. I made the film for myself, to know how to educate my son in this delicate matter.” However, he balks at the idea of his son seeing it — or any film, due to the general Charedi ban on media.

It has been a hit at art house cinemas in Israel, and received positive reviews at several foreign film festivals. A longer version for US cinemas is in the works, and European TV stations are in talks to show the current version.

Sacred Sperm shows conversations with rabbis on just how gravely they view masturbation, frank discussions on how boys are told to deal with their urges, and footage of Mr Gruder’s own self-imposed penances for his actions, which include rolling naked in snow.

Sacred Sperm is a rarity — a film made about a normally-taboo subject in the community, by a member of the community and with the blessing of a rabbi. Viewers see Mr Gruder visit his rabbi in the Charedi stronghold of Mea Shearim, Jerusalem, and receive approval to make the film.

The reason for the surprising rabbinical decision, Mr Gruder said, was that the availability of internet porn was intensifying the challenge of enforcing the no-masturbation rule, and rabbis were open to new ways of solving the “problem”.

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