Loving Leah

Synopsis: When his estranged brother dies suddenly, Jake Lever is confronted with an old Jewish custom. In days past, a man was expected to marry his deceased brother's childless widow, but it is now customary to perform a ceremony releasing the pair from the obligation. During the Halizah ceremony, Jake feels uncomfortable renouncing his brother's memory. Additionally, Leah wishes to escape the confines of her orthodox community and avoid her mother's matchmaking. On the spur of the moment, Leah and Jake decide to enter into a platonic marriage of convenience.
Genre: Drama, Romance
Director(s): Jeff Bleckner
Production: CBS
  Nominated for 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 4 nominations.
95 min


How are you feeling now, Mrs. Wellers?

You're pretty.

We're good to go.

Benjamin, what are you doing here?

Who's the woman?

My girlfriend.

What are you doing here?

You and I...

...are okay.





That's a lot of bridesmaids.

Don't worry, I'm only going to have eight.

But it will be in a church,

and it will be big.

That's my family's thing.


I had a dream about my brother.


I told you I have a brother.

"I have a brother."

That's about it.

He's a rabbi.

A religious one.

I haven't seen him in six years.

Now, he comes to me in a dream.

Maybe it's time to reconnect.

Eight bridesmaids, huh?

Diane, my younger sister, had 14.

Oh, that's ridiculous.

Yeah, I know.

Hey, Mom, what's up?


The brother's single, a doctor.

He's coming with the mother.

Point him out to me.

I never met him.

He's Reform, like the mother,

who shows up once a year, if that.


You're in my prayers.

Thank you, Mrs. Goldfarb.


He should've been here already.

You sure you told him the right time?

Oh, I have on open-toed shoes.

What was I thinking?

Ma, it's fine. Come on.

Mama, they're here.

- Dr. Lever?

- Yes?

My condolences to you both.

If you would stand with the men.

And if you would join Leah.


I always thought of Benjamin as my own son.

Here, sit.

In the days and weeks to come,

when we think Rabbi Lever,

we may be compelled to ask God,


"Why would a man so full of life,

"in his prime

be taken from his wife and his family?"

We come into this world with a purpose.

And because death is so much a part of life...

...we come to see Benjamin's departure,

as a, a lesson,

which we must take as a gift.

And in time,

it will become apparent

what his gift is

to each of us.

- Amen.

- Amen.

Are they going to stare at us the whole time?

Shh-shh, shh-shh.


No, thank you. No, thank you.

I'll be back around with a tray of fruit.

I think the fruit comes next.


Why he never comes to visit?

He disapproves of us?


The fruit is ready.

To drop dead just like that...

I tell you, it's best that Leah has no children.

It's a terrible thing

- when children are left...

- Yeah, I know.

- Well, what happens now?

- Well, Rabbi Tenzer's

family will take the apartment

since the shul owns it,

and Leah'll move back here with me.



Can I get you something?

Nothing, thank you.

I'm going to get some air.

Sorry, look, I'll...

It's okay.

I should go.

Don't leave

because of me.

I should be downstairs.

I just needed some air.

I wish I had worn an old suit.

What's the meaning behind it?

The rending of the garments.

It allows the mourners to express

their grief and anger.

There are things of Benjamin's you should have.

Thanks, but don't rush.

I know you have to pack.

I heard you're moving.

It's just down two flights.

Your mother lives in the same building?

Yes, and my sister, too.

He wanted you in his life.

I know he did.

I just couldn't find a way to relate to him.

Everything I did was sinful.

I should have been around.

You know, I might, I might have

seen the signs, and then...

you and I, you and I wouldn't

be standing here right now.

When it happened,

Benjamin couldn't find me.

I should have felt something when he died.

He couldn't find me to say good-bye.

What do you mean?

A person's soul finds the one

they love to say good-bye.

He found you?

It was just a dream.

The rabbi is downstairs.

You're wanted now.

Oh, you, too.


The Levirate Marriage takes place

between the childless widow whose husband

has just died and the unmarried

brother of the deceased.

It's his obligation to marry her,

so the brother's name will carry on.

You're kidding right?

He's kidding?

Well, I-I, I can't.

I'm in a relationship. I'm sorry, but...

I mean, it's no offense, Leah,

or to all of you, but I...

Shh-shh, Dr. Lever.

We no longer practice this.

However, to release

both of you from your obligation,

we have to perform a ceremony.

Great. What do I have to do?

You have to wait three months

to see if Leah is pregnant.

If not, we reconvene

for the Halizah,

that's the ceremony that will

release Leah from the law.


All right, everybody inside.

No running like meshugges, huh?

Come on, come on, in you go.

In you go.

Hannah Rifka?

Come. You're in charge, okay?

Play quietly.

Bubbe, she has more toys!

What a mistake giving them sugar.

Here, I saved the last two doughnuts for us.

Have you seen Mama yet?


She's meeting with Mrs. Finkelman.

I'm sure it's only preliminary, you know?

To see who's out there and interested in you.

Nothing can really happen if you're...

What? Pregnant?

I'm not pregnant, and you and Mama know it.

Things do happen.

She called the matchmaker?

What is her hurry?

I got other plans, Essy.

I don't like that look.

What are you digging?


I've got my interview this afternoon.

How are you going to tell Mama?

Winging this would not be advised.

I'm not moving back in with Mama.

Come on, I'm going to be late.

Help me with my wig.

We've got your transcripts.

You're not applying for financial aid.

You plan to matriculate

as a bachelor's candidate.

That's right.

So, uh, okay,

well, all we need are your, uh, SAT scores.

Yeah, uh, no, I know I have

to get that over with.

So are you applying

- for housing?

- Oh, yes.


do you have a kosher meal plan?

We do... I'll, uh, I'll make a note of it.

So you'll be requesting a roommate who is also

- of your faith?

- Oh. I didn't even know that was an option

seeing I'm applying so late for this semester.

Oh, Mrs. Lever,

the earliest if accepted here or... anywhere

would-would be for next semester.

That's almost six months away.

- Yeah, I know.

- I'm sorry.

You're covering for me in clinic tomorrow, right?

Sure. What's up?

Remember? I have to be in

Brooklyn tomorrow morning

to divorce my sister-in-law.

Right. And people think my religion's strange.

What do you have to do?

It's all online.

Recite some biblical passages,

get spit on by Leah,

and then the rabbi will

consider my obligation broken.

Strictly ceremonial.

No. It's my experience

that in the presence of God and religious men

that nothing's strictly ceremonial,

especially when there's spitting.

Oh. That, they say, signifies...

Oh, one special.

Ten even, please.

"To shame the brother

for not building up his brother's house."

"For he shall be forgotten now

that no offspring shall be raised in his name."

It sounds different when it's read aloud.

Like I said.

Do you love him, Loretta?

- Ma, I love him awful.

- Oh, God, that's too bad.

She loves me.

What's the matter, Pop?

I'm confused.

I'm sorry I'm late, Ruth.

You have Mama's order ready?


Hi, Mama. Ruth gave away your lemon cake,

- so...

- Oh...

here she is.

I told Carmie you might stop by.

Join us for a L'Chaim, Leah.

Mrs. Finkelman thought it'd be nice

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Pnenah Goldstein

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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