"Praying With Lior," a film that documents Lior Liebling's Jewish journey, opened to solid ticket sales last weekend at the Bala Theatre in Bala Cynwyd. Due to the strong turnout at its Philadelphia-area premiere, the film has been extended on a full schedule at the Bala through March 27. Lior, who has Down syndrome, is the son of Rabbi Mordechai Liebling and his late wife, Devorah Bartenoff, both Reconstructionist rabbis.
The film traces the Politz Hebrew Academy alumni's intensive and joyful preparation for his May 17, 2004 Bar Mitzvah at Congregation Mishkan Shalom in Philadelphia.
Lior, whose name means "my light," was enrolled at the Orthodox Jewish day school when he was 6 years old. His work with Orot, a program for children with special needs that makes it possible for them to attend Jewish day schools, helped him to integrate well with his fellow students. His teacher, Beverly Bernstein, who serves as coordinator for Orot, commented, "He was [just] one of the boys — yet, at the same time, they understood that he had a special quality about him."
"Praying With Lior," directed by Ilana Trachtman, has won audience awards for best documentary at the Boston and Washington Film Festivals and at the Margaret Mead Festival in New York.
The film documents the exemplary work of Orot in helping students like Lior achieve their full potential. Orot's annual gala, celebrating 10 years of service to the community, will honor Joyce and Ed Rosenberg. The event will be held on Wednesday, May 14, at a private home.
The Bala Theatre is located at 157 Bala Avenue, Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004. For screening times, call 610-668-4695.