My Sister Tikva – Review by Tim Gardner

Sunday, Oct. 16 – 5:15 CF Performing Arts Center

In an April 2011 interview with writer ShirKe, Tikva says, “My first memory is of a house with closed shutters and the sound of breaking glass. I don’t remember suffering at all. I’ve erased my emotions.”

If you’re a compassionate person your emotions might swell a bit watching My Sister Tikva. If you’re a nurture-gatherer, bring tissue.

It’s not surprising that Tikva has erased her emotions. Breathing chloroform nightly as a toddler to assure silence and avoid detection by evil forces lurking in the ghetto might do that to a person. So, too, might knowing that your beloved brother, whom you fiercely protect, is somewhat of a math whiz and you’re not.  Then one day, your “didactic mathematics teacher”of a mother tells you that she is not your real Mother. You will be going to live elsewhere.

And so, once again in her young but otherwise congenial life, Tikva moves on. She moves on a total of three times. Always, it’s with her best interest in mind.

Billed as a “Holocaust Movie,” I wasn’t sure what to expect from My Sister Tikva.  But as Tikva tells Ke, the holocaust isn’t central to her memory.“The insufferable detachment from Israel is,” she says. Today, Tikva is retired, a grandmother and living in Baltimore. She had trepidation about becoming a mother. “I was very much afraid to lose them,” she reveals.  But as we learn from the film, in Hebrew Tikva means Hope.

Hope was delivered by way of a Lithuanian Catholic couple who already had two daughters. Then, through a well-meaning Aunt who took her to a Kibbutz. Finally to America, where in those days, “the roads were paved in Gold.”

The film follows Tikva as she is reunited with Yair, the brother who also suffered the trauma of separation. She meets the man who first saved her life, Edomas Gecevicius.  Edomas persuaded his wife, Bronia to take Tikva in just before the Slobodka Ghetto was leveled, reminding her that, “When you were a sickly child your parents entrusted you to relatives and that’s how your life was saved. Jesus is giving you the opportunity to repay him.”

In the end, we realize that Tikva is still moving on.  She tells us so early in the film, “I know that the passing of time is the only constant in life.” Ghost