By Marcy Levinson
In a documentary called “Mother With a Gun,” you might expect to see a film highlighting a gun-toting mom. Maybe a mom with a whole brood of kids who have matching water guns.
At the very least, you’d expect something linking the story line to the title.
More aptly titled “For Every Jew a .22,” this film is nothing more than a historical retrospective of the Jewish Defense League as told by its current U.S. president, Shelley Rubin, over what appear to be several years — a sad four years since her son Ari’s suicide in 2012 left the organization without a director.
It’s not even a well-crafted documentary, but one piecemealed around photos, video segments, and hard-to-follow interviews with Rubin and her son, their friends, two FBI agents, and Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz.
Dershowitz lends the most credibility to the film as an outspoken voice on topics often too tender for the average person and as the winning defense counsel for a JDL bombing suspect.
If you haven’t any knowledge of the JDL (yes, millennials, I’m looking at you), it is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States and Israel. It was founded by Rabbi Meir Kahane in 1968 in New York.
In 2017, on its own website, there is no specific definition of the group, which the documentary says has more than 1,000 members in “more than nine countries.” The site says, “Self defense is the Jewish right.”
Rubin’s husband, Irv, led the JDL after Rabbi Kahane, who was assassinated in 1990. Irv Rubin killed himself in prison in November 2002.
While sitting barefoot on a chair in her messy living room for some of the interviews, Rubin, like a starry-eyed school girl, relived her romance with Irv and talked about the JDL accusations and arrests made by the FBI as if they were silly games, even though people were hurt and died.
Where the tough-talking Jew on a tuchus-kicking mission opened the film, by the end there was only a sad, lonely woman with a broken home, broken heart, glorified memories of a shrunken organization and no remorse. It was as if reliving the memories to make the documentary gave Rubin enough steam to power through the pain, but by the end she was running on empty — no son, no husband, no gun.