The Arty Semite

Retired Older Men Eating Out Wednesdays

By Curt Schleier

  • Print
  • Share Share

“The Romeows” is not a misspelled attempt to re-write Shakespeare. Nor does it have anything to do with cats. It is, in fact, a gentle, heart-warming film about the enduring friendship of a group of guys, members of the same Brooklyn College house plan (class of ’59). The title stands for “retired older men eating out Wednesdays.”

The group meets weekly for dinners that are part reminiscence, part philosophy and part therapy. Director Robert Sarnoff started to film them on a regular basis in 2008, as their 50th class reunion approached, and then shot them again in 2012.

There is something poignant about how they maintain their relationships (and still laugh at each other’s jokes) so many years after they first met. Clearly, the nourishment they get from these sessions fills their souls as well as their bellies.

In individual interviews and during their meals, they talk about everything from their mortality to the legacies they’ve left their children.

“The Romeows” will resonate with anyone who lived through that era, particularly New Yorkers who attended any of the tuition-free city colleges, all top ranked academically and important steps into the middle class and beyond for immigrants and their children.

Quoted in the production notes, Sarnoff said the audience attending an early screening reacted positively to the film, “but many questions led me to believe there was some confusion. Clarification was necessary.”

It still is. Some of it seems so basic, it’s surprising he didn’t figure this out himself. Perhaps because Sarnoff is also a Romeow, he was too close to the material to see the trees for the forest.

We learn very little about the Romeows themselves. What happened to them after school? What professions did they enter? Were they successful? Married? How long have they been meeting? Did they re-unite at some point long after graduation?

I’m not even sure how many active Romeows there are. There seems to be seven or eight. Who is the woman filmed at one of their meals and why is she there? One man labeled an “honorary” Romeow at a 2009 party tied to the class reunion says he has a disease which will likely kill him in three years. Yet he’s shown hale and healthy three years later without an explanation. That’s not kosher in a documentary.

And on the subject of Kosher: So many questions are unanswered, including the Romeows’ last names. According to the notes, with one exception, they all have Jewish surnames. But Jewish identity is never mentioned, which I find a little odd since at the time Brooklyn College (as were the other city colleges) was probably 90% Jewish.

Having said all that, I know at the film’s end, I wished I was a Romeow.

“The Romeows” opens in New YorkCity July 19.

Watch the trailer for ‘The Romeows’:


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: The Romeows, Robert Sarnoff, Curt Schleier, Documentaries, Film

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • Before there was 'Homeland,' there was 'Prisoners of War.' And before there was Claire Danes, there was Adi Ezroni. Share this with 'Homeland' fans!
  • BREAKING: Was an Israeli soldier just kidnapped in Gaza? Hamas' military wing says yes.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.