Directed by Aaron Wolf, Restoring Tomorrowtells a universal story of hope as a beloved local temple in decay is revitalized through a community’s commitment to recover their history. Wolf follows the journey of the Wilshire Boulevard Temple, a Los Angeles treasure built by the original Hollywood moguls, that needs to raise millions in order to restore its beauty. However, Wolf also recognizes that, in doing so, the renewed temple on Wilshire could also restore the future of the Jewish community, and the greater Los Angeles community itself.
Despite the film’s central structure around the rebuilding of Wilshire Boulevard Temple, Restoring Tomorrow, Wolf has much larger questions in mind. Instead, he begins to ask why so many young people have walked away from faith systems in droves over the last decade, including himself. Is it simply that we have lost the value of our histories and traditions? Are the beliefs associated with the synagogue irrelevant in today’s culture? What does it mean to have inter-faith dialogue and how might it be expressed in the meaningful context of community? In Wolf’s mind, all of these issues have contributed to the slow decay of the church at large by revealing the disconnect that has developed between culture and faith.
Make no mistake, however, Wolf also makes it clear that this issue is not only restricted to Wilshire by showing multiple places of faith around the world that need restoration as well. Although much of the value of faith has been lost within our Western culture of achievement and… well… building structures, Tomorrow asks the viewer to slow down and experience the spiritual heart behind rituals and community. Time and again, the film records people who recognize that they are a part of something ‘greater than themselves’ simply by sitting within the synagogue itself.
In many ways, Tomorrow’s greatest asset is its personal nature. Choosing to tell his own story as a young man who had lost touch with his own faith and traditions, Wolf moves the film from merely objective to somewhat intimate. By showing clips of himself interviewing his guests (as opposed to the usual ‘talking heads’ seen in documentaries), Wolf reveals that the questions he’s asking aren’t merely for general information. They are for his own interest as well. As such,Tomorrow becomes much more than a report about the restoration of a building. It’s about reclaiming one’s own spiritual history. Through Wolf’s journey, we recognize the value in opening up ourselves to see meaning in what once was meaningful.
In essence, although Restoring Tomorrow may begin with the restoration of a synagogue, Wolf allows himself to ask questions that are far greater than he have originally anticipated. In doing so, the film offers a poignant and personal look at the damage we’ve cause by our loss of traditions and the value that stems from their reclamation.
For audio of our interview with director Aaron Wolf, click here.
Restoring Tomorrow opens in Toronto, NY and LA on Friday, October 12th, 2018 and expands throughout November.